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June 13, 2012

The Public Theater Gala Celebrates Shakespeare in the Park

By Ingrid Skjong | Theater

The Public Theater Gala Celebrates Shakespeare in the Park
Joseph Moran

Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park—the annual performances of the bard’s work staged at the Delacorte Theater in New York’s Central Park—is one of the most cherished summer cultural traditions in the world. This year, as the icon turns 50, there is even more to celebrate, and the Public Theater’s gala on June 18 will do just that.

The highlight of the evening is a reading of Romeo and Juliet starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, 50 years to the day after Shakespeare in the Park’s first-ever performance at the Delacorte, which was The Merchant of Venice on June 18, 1962. Other alumni, including Sam Waterston, Jeffrey Wright and Christopher Walken, will comprise the cast; Al Pacino, who appeared in 2010’s The Merchant of Venice, which ultimately went to Broadway and garnered him a Tony nomination, is the evening’s honoree.

“For 50 years the Delacorte Theater has been home to the greatest American actors, who have been able to hone their artistry in the most beautiful, democratic theater in the world,” says artistic director Oskar Eustis. “Romeo and Juliet will be a celebration of those actors—a joyous love letter to the Delacorte, to Central Park and to New York City.”

Shakespeare in the Park has delighted more than 5 million people and staged upwards of 150 productions during its lifetime. (This year, As You Like It continues through June 30, and the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods runs from July 23 through August 25.) While it’s certainly a big year for it, the Public’s downtown home at 425 Lafayette Street is also gearing up for a major milestone: a substantial renovation to its 158-year-old building wraps up this fall. June 18; ticket prices start at $1,500; 212-539-8547; shakespeareinthepark.org; publictheater.org.