Audiences attending the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater's summer season at Central Park's Delacorte Theater, beginning June 17 with the first preview of The Taming of the Shrew, will see more than just Shakespeare: Part of a $4.35 million Delacorte facelift will be evident to ticketholders.
Walkways will be less congested, concession areas will be streamlined and new cedar siding and fences will greet fans of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (through July 11) and Moliere's Tartuffe (Aug. 10-Sept. 5).
Other changes, to make the stage and production areas more modern and efficient, will be evident mostly to artistic personnel, although keen-eyed patrons will note the added traps in the stage when actors or set pieces rise from the floor. The Delacorte renovations are by the architectural firm Kapell and Kostow.
Among improvements made:
* Cedar siding on the entire exterior.
* Fencing at Gates 1 & 4.
* Refurbished canopy.
* Handicap ramp.
* Assisted hearing system.
* New bleachers and seating.
* Emergency lighting system.
* Paving in east and west "yards" and all public walkways and vomitories.
* Three concession stands built into the theater (rather than freestanding).
* Complete site drainage.
* Production and operations support rooms built under the seating area.
* Newly created usher area and locker rooms.
* Concession prep and storage rooms.
* Re-built walkways under the seating for the actors.
* Passageway between the understage and the dressing room areas.
* New workroom under the stage.
* New stage deck (slightly higher than before) with increased "trap" capacity.
* Extensive electrical power distribution upgrade.
* Audio system upgrade.
* Production "shack" upgrade. The Delacorte renovations received major financial support from the City of New York. In addition, The Delacorte Fund has made a significant gift, managed by the New York Community Trust, the interest from which will be used for annual maintenance of the of the Delacorte Theater and the surrounding grounds.
The other major capital improvement projects for the Public Theater are the creation of Joe's Pub and future upgrades to the various theatre spaces within the Lafayette Street complex.
Allison Janney and Jay O. Sanders will spar as Kate and Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater production of The Taming of the Shrew in Central Park June 17-July 11.
Lending comic support are Mario Cantone (Love! Valour! Compassion!) as Grumio and Max Wright (Lincoln Center's Ivanov and Twelfth Night) as Christopher Sly. Erika Alexander (TV's "Living Single") will play Bianca.
Mel Shapiro directs. Designers are Karl Eigsti (sets), Marina Draghici (costumes) and Brian MacDevitt (lights). Original music is by composer Mark Bennett.
-- By Kenneth Jones