Breaking: Shakespeare in the Park announces its 2014 season

Two of Shake’s greatest plays take the Central Park stage this summer. (Hard to believe, but one day you will want to sit outdoors again.)

Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater in The Merchant of Venice (2010)

Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater in The Merchant of Venice (2010) Photograph: Joan Marcus

It isn’t necessarily the Bard’s finest work that gets trotted out for free summer Shakespeare festivals. More often than not, it’s the lowest-hanging comedy, designed to be a warm-weather trifle for the sweltering public.

So it’s no small thing that for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park season, the Public Theater will be presenting King Lear, its first tragedy in five years. Stage and screen heavyweight John Lithgow stars as the benighted king, and Shakespeare in the Park regular Daniel Sullivan directs. This is Lear’s first time on the Delacorte stage since 1973, though this will be the third major NYC production of the play this year: Frank Langella just closed a critically acclaimed run at BAM, and Michael Pennington will wail into the storm at Theatre for a New Audience next month. Still, in our opinion, there’s no such thing as too much of this grief-stricken masterpiece.

And don’t worry, comedy lovers: The season’s second offering is another one of the Bard’s best—the quick-witted Much Ado About Nothing, starring Delacorte standbys Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater as sparring would-be lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Rabe headlined in 2012’s As You Like It, and Linklater slapsticked his heart out in last year’s The Comedy of Errors. (The pair also co-starred in the Public's 2010 production of The Merchant of Venice at the Delacorte.) Triple Tony winner Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, The Coast of Utopia) is at the helm.

Send tips and cat photos to:

Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

Time Out videos

Subscribe to Time Out New York on Spotify for playlists and recommendations from our Music team.

Check out New York's best restaurants, hottest street style, cool apartments and more.