Picks revealed for free summer Central Park plays

January 26, 2012 - 6:05 PM
Theater Shakespeare Park

FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2011 file photo, actress Lily Rabe attends the premiere of "The Ides of March" at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. The Public Theater will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Shakespeare in the Park series this summer with a little Bard and a little Sondheim. The Public said Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, that Daniel Sullivan will direct “As You Like It” in June with Lily Rabe as Rosalind. A month later, directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel will present Sondheim and James Lapine's “Into the Woods.” Both works will be free at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Public Theater will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Shakespeare in the Park series this summer with a little Bard and a little Sondheim.

The Public said Thursday that Daniel Sullivan will direct "As You Like It" in June with Lily Rabe as Rosalind. A month later, Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel will direct Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's "Into the Woods."

Both works will be free at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Additional casting and dates will be announced later.

The Shakespeare comedy reunites Rabe and Sullivan, who combined in 2010 in the park with a thrilling production of "The Merchant of Venice" led by Al Pacino as Shylock that transferred to Broadway and earned Tony Award nominations for all three.

The Sondheim musical, a reimagining of beloved classic fairy tales that opened on Broadway in 1987, will be based on the Olivier Award-winning Regent's Park Open Air Theatre London production in 2010, which also was directed by Sheader and Steel. The original Broadway cast featured Bernadette Peters and a 2002 revival starred Vanessa Williams.

"I'm delighted that we are adding Stephen Sondheim to the Delacorte's roster: our greatest artist of musical theater will sit very comfortably next to Shakespeare," Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater, said in a statement. "Sondheim in the Park has a good ring to it."

The Delacorte Theater officially opened in Central Park on June 18, 1962, with a production of "The Merchant of Venice," directed by Joseph Papp and Gladys Vaughan and featuring George C. Scott as Shylock. Since then, stars including James Earl Jones, Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Raul Julia and Christopher Walken have acted on its stage.

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