Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Four Productions Play Broadway Simultaneously

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07 Nov 2013

Mark Rylance in <i>Richard III</i>.
Mark Rylance in Richard III.
Photo by Joan Marcus

William Shakespeare's popularity continues to be in evidence in New York, where four of his plays are being presented simultaneously on Broadway for the first time since 1987. 

November 2013 is making a bit of theatrical history. With Macbeth, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night treading various boards around town, this is the first time that four Shakespeare plays are performing on Broadway at the same time in more than a quarter century.

Romeo and Juliet opened in September and runs through January, 2014, at the Rodgers Theatre; Twelfth Night and Richard III are being performed in repertory through February at the Belasco Theatre; and Macbeth is now in previews for a Nov. 21 opening at the Beaumont Theatre.

According to the Broadway League, the last time so many of the Bard’s plays were on Broadway at the same time was May 1987, when a repertory bill of As You Like It, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet was appearing at the Belasco in special productions for students, while The Comedy of Errors was previewing at Beaumont.

The record for the most Shakespeare productions at one time was established when the Chicago Civic Shakespeare Society produced nine in rep in March of 1930; the current alignment is unusual in that it involves three separate productions, two of which are put up by for-profit producers.



Broadway usually sees one or two Shakespeares every season. Macbeth is especially popular, having been produced on Broadway 18 times since 1928. Three productions of the Scottish Play were performed New York in the last year alone, including Alan Cumming’s one-man adaptation, seen on Broadway this past spring.

In addition to the Broadway productions, Off-Broadway is currently hosting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre for a New Audience, Hamlet at the West End Theatre, Sleep No More (based on Macbeth) at the McKittrick Hotel and another Romeo and Juliet at Classic Stage Company. At a stretch, you might also include Disney's The Lion King, whose plot bears a close resemblance to Hamlet.

Shakespeare can also be found at the Public Theater, formerly the New York Shakespeare Festival, which will host the Mobile Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing from Nov. 25-Dec. 15.

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Mark Rylance and Samuel Barnett in Richard III
Photo by Joan Marcus