The Tempest, Featuring Laura Benanti, Norm Lewis and Todd Almond, Sweeps Into Central Park Sept. 6
By Adam Hetrick
Lear deBessonet and Todd Almond's new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, utilizing a 200-person cast comprising professional actors and members of the public, is offered Sept. 6-8 at the Delacorte Theater. Co-writer Almond, Laura Benanti, Norm Lewis, Carson Elrod, Jeff Hiller and Jacob Ming-Trent star.
The production is the first of the Public Theater's new Public Works initiative, which aims to build audience engagement in all five boroughs of New York City. Admission is free. All performances are at 8 PM.
DeBessonet and Almond previously collaborated on ambitious adaptations of The Odyssey at San Diego's Old Globe, as well as Don Quixote in Philadelphia.
The Tempest is conceived and directed by Lear and features book, music and lyrics by Almond, who also stars as Ariel. The large-scale staging is inspired by a 1916 event at City College, which featured professional actors working with 1,500 city residents who united for an adaptation of The Tempest, billed as Caliban by the Yellow Sands.
Tony Award winner Benanti (Gypsy, Women on the Verge) plays Goddess, with Tony nominee Lewis (Porgy and Bess) as Prospero, Elrod (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Caliban, Hiller (Love's Labour's Lost) as Trinculo and Ming-Trent (Hands on a Hardbody) as Stephano.
The Tempest also features individuals from such diverse groups as Children's Aid Society (Manhattan); DreamYard (Bronx); Fortune Society (Queens); Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island), as well as Ballet Tech, the NYC Public School for Dance, the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Ensemble, the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, Generation X, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, Raya Brass Band and Stephen Duncan.
"Public Works is an opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy of New York City," deBessonet said in a statement. "In this first year we've joined with five organizations that embody some of the most innovative approaches to community building. Together we are shaping a vision of how theatre can transform a community and enrich the civic life of our city."
The Tempest has scenic design by Matt Saunders, costume design by Paul Carey, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau and sound design by Acme Sound Partners. Chase Brock choreographs.
Tickets to The Tempest are free and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park the day of the show beginning at noon. The Public Theater is offering free tickets through its Virtual Ticketing lottery at shakespeareinthepark.org on the day of the show.
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