For William Shakespeare "All the world's a stage." But lately all the stages seem to be Shakespeare's. The season will welcome several new productions of the Bard's work and there really is something for everyone, from big-budget Broadway spectacles to experimental international interpretations — not to mention performances by two of the greatest living Shakespearean actors of our day.
Click through to read an overview of the season's Shakespearean productions and what each of them has to offer New York audiences.
"I think Shakespeare's work is the perfect way to explore the issue of stop-and-frisk."
Hudson Guild Theater
Through Nov. 2
The New York Shakespeare Exchange brings a dash of youthful insight to the Bard's tale of jealousy and deceit. Cristina Lundy directs Terence MacSweeny as Iago and Keldrick Crowder as Othello in this downtown production which "transports the Moor of Venice to a world where stop-and-frisk can become the political issue of the day and innocent men are gunned down because of the color of their skin," said Ross Williams, NYSE's producing artistic director. shakespeareexchange.org
|Photo by Helen Maybanks|
Another Shakespeare import from London, the Donmar Warehouse's all-female Julius Caesar is set in a women's prison and uses Shakespeare's take on the Roman history to look at female incarceration — just like your favorite Netflix drama! Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, of Mamma Mia! and "The Iron Lady" fame, the production has received wide acclaim, especially for Harriet Walter as Brutus and Frances Barber as Caesar. stannswarehouse.org
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Indie-film starlet Elizabeth Olsen stars in one of two stagings of Romeo and Juliet to hit theatres this fall. Up-and-coming director Tea Alagić gives the oft-produced play a contemporary re-imagining sure to fit in with the downtown crowd enthusiastic about the other Olsen sister's New York theatre debut. TV and film stars T.R. Knight and Daniel Davis round out the cast. classicstage.org
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Thankfully, Julie Taymor's Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark debacle is behind her and she can get back to what she does best: Shakespeare. She'll inaugurate Theatre for a New Audience's beautiful new home in downtown Brooklyn, the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, with a production of the fantasy-filled comedy. This is Taymor's fourth Shakespeare for TFANA — two of which she later adapted into films — so many expect big things from her Midsummer. tfana.org
I like that Ethan Hawke is doing more horror movies now.
Lincoln Center Theater
Through Jan. 11, 2014
Ethan Hawke, who of late has made a career out of horror films, thanks to the success of "The Purge" and "Sinister," will be right at home in the title role of Jack O'Brien's new production of the Scottish Play. O'Brien's vision promises to bring the "nightmare" — though we're certain the 42-year-old Hawke will still provide some of that boyish sex appeal. lct.org
I just don't get why Shakespeare didn't write any musicals.
The Metropolitan Opera
Dec. 6–Jan. 11
It is true Shakespeare didn't write any musicals, but that doesn't mean Shakespeare's verse hasn't been set to music. The Metropolitan Opera presents a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's comedic favorite, Falstaff, which the composer adapted from both The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV. James Levine conducts Robert Carsen's lavish new production set in the mid-20th century English countryside, giving Verdi's final work a "Downton Abbey" spin. metoperafamily.org
The only Shakespeare I know is the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet
Richard Rodgers Theatre
Through Jan. 12
So you avoided reading Shakespeare in high school by watching Baz Luhrmann's colorful 1996 adaptation starring heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio? No problem! You'll likely get the same rush of emotion from "Lord of the Rings" star Orlando Bloom — and at least the same world-famous verse — in the Broadway production that presents the tale of star crossed lovers from warring families as a conflict along racial lines. Come for Bloom's lean muscled torso (yes, he takes off his shirt), and stay for the poetry of young love. romeoandjulietbroadway.com
Shakespeare should be performed as it was in Elizabethan times — with an all-male cast.
Twelfth Night and Richard III
Through Feb. 2
Shakespeare expert and master thespian Mark Rylance will star on Broadway in two celebrated productions from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Rylance, who served as artistic director of the Globe before hitting Broadway with Tony Award-winning roles in shows like Boeing-Boeing and Jerusalem, breathes new life into the centuries-old verse. Both shows, playing in repertory, will be performed by an all-male cast in period costumes on a reconstructed Elizabethan stage — just as they were in Shakespeare's time. shakespearebroadway.com
I'm sad I didn't get tickets to see Shakespeare in the Park.
Antony & Cleopatra
The Public Theater
Feb. 18–March 23
The good news for anyone who couldn't wait in line to see The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park? The Public does Shakespeare all year round. And while it's not free, this year's production, Antony & Cleopatra — co-produced with the Royal Shakespeare Company — is directed by playwright and MacArthur "Genius" Award-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney, who set his stripped-down version of the political tragedy in the Caribbean islands on the eve of revolution. publictheater.org
I wish Shakespearean drama was more like "Game of Thrones."
Park Avenue Armory
The last Shakespeare entry of the season might be the most anticipated: Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's big-budget, site-specific production of the Scottish Play. Played out on a stage more reminiscent of Medieval Times than The Globe, Branagh's production — in which he also stars — features rain, fire, and huge muddy battles. It thrilled when it debuted at the Manchester International Festival. Good luck getting tickets. armoryonpark.org