Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, the first production presented in 2001 by the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater in Central Park's Delacorte Theatre, will officially open on June 17. Previews began June 5. The production, directed by Mary Zimmerman, stars Billy Crudup, Sanaa Lathan, Joe Morton and John Pankow.
In Measure for Measure — one of the Bard's so-called "problem plays"— the Duke of Vienna seeks to return order to his city, now overrun with brothels and prostitutes. He announces he will leave the city and appoint virtuous Judge Angelo as the ruler. Secretly he disguises himself as a friar and watches as the supposedly moral man condemns young Claudio to death for getting his fiancee pregnant, while Angelo seeks to exchange Claudio's death with a chance to sleep with the man's sister Isabella, who is about to enter holy orders.
Billy Crudup stars as Angelo, while Sanaa Lathan is Isabella and John Pankow is Lucio. While Crudup hasn't been on the New York stage at all this past season, he has been seen at many of the recent year-end award events and benefits, accompanying his longtime companion Mary-Louise Parker. The actress, more often than not, collected a trophy or accolade for her performance in Proof before the night was over, typically mentioning Crudup in her acceptance speech. Parker continues in Proof through Labor Day.
Also in the cast are Eric Alperin, Tom Aulino, Gregory Bratman, Traber Burns, Bryan Cogman, Robert Colston, Cote de Pablo, Sanjit De Silva, Christopher Donahue, Glenn Fleshler, Herb Foster, Julia Gibson, Dennis Michael Hall, Dale Ho, Felicity Jones, Nicole Lowrance, Joe Morton, Daniel Pierce, Jenn Perkins, Darren Pettie, Daniel Pino, Victor Quinaz, John Livingston Rolle and Christopher Evan Welch.
The 2001 season of Shakespeare in Central Park is sponsored in part by The New York Times, America Online, Penguin Putnam, TDI, and WCBS Newsradio 88. *
Measure will be followed by Mike Nichols' staging of The Seagull, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. The production begins July 24 and opens Aug. 12 for a run through Aug.19.