In honor and celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater, The Public Theater will hold a special one-night-only gala event on Monday, June 18, featuring Kevin Kline as Romeo and Meryl Streep as Juliet in a star-studded staged reading of ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by Daniel Sullivan.
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park officially opened on June 18, 1962 with a production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Public Theater founder Joe Papp and Gladys Vaughn and featuring the then-unknown actors George C. Scott and James Earl Jones. Conceived by Papp as a way to make great theater accessible to all, over the past 50 years more than five million people have enjoyed more than 100 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte.
At The Public Theater's Anniversary Gala on June 18, Tony Award winner Al Pacino will be honored for his body of work with The Public Theater, going back to the early 1970s and including his acclaimed performance as Shylock in the Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice in 2010. The unforgettable evening in Central Park will include dinner al fresco, the staged reading of ROMEO AND JULIET, and a party immediately following the performance. The benefit event is being chaired by Public Theater Board Members Arielle Tepper Madover and Alexandra Shiva.
"For 50 years the Delacorte Theater has been home to the greatest American actors, who have been able to hone their artistry in the most beautiful, democratic theater in the world. Romeo and Juliet will be a celebration of those actors, a joyous love letter to the Delacorte, to Central Park and to New York City," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "Meryl is the greatest actress of our age, and Kevin is America's preeminent Shakespearean. Their partnership, which has stretched over 30 years, has provided some of the most incandescent moments in our dramatic history. This unforgettable evening will be a spectacular addition to that history and a perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte. It will also give us the breathtaking chance to see Meryl and Kevin play the Balcony scene."
ROMEO AND JULIET is one of the great love stories of all time. The tragic story of two young romantics star-crossed by family pressures and a society that values status above all else, ROMEO AND JULIET's passion and sweep make it the perfect play for a moonlit Central Park night. The Public Theater has produced this beloved play only twice before at the Delacorte (1968 and 2007). Now Meryl Streep, who has performed five times at the Delacorte since 1976, and Kevin Kline, who has performed nine times since 1970, will assay these roles for the first time in their careers and celebrate the priceless gift of Shakespeare in the Park to the people of New York.
Tickets for The Public Theater's Anniversary Gala on Monday, June 18 begin at $1,500. For more information, please call (212) 539-8547 or visit www.publictheater.org.
THE DELACORTE THEATER officially opened in Central Park on June 18, 1962 with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Joseph Papp and Gladys Vaughan and featuring George C. Scott as Shylock. The Merchant of Venice was followed that summer by a production of The Tempest, directed by Gerald Freedman and featuring Paul Stevens as Prospero and James Earl Jones as Caliban. The first Delacorte summer season concluded with King Lear, directed by Joseph Papp and Gladys Vaughan and featuring Frank Silvera as Lear. Since that time more than 100 productions have been presented for free at the Delacorte Theater. Highlights of past productions include Othello in 1964 with James Earl Jones; Hamlet in 1975 with Sam Waterston; The Taming of the Shrew in 1978 with Raul Julia and Meryl Streep; The Pirates of Penzance in 1980 with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt; Henry V in 1984 with Kevin Kline; Much Ado About Nothing in 1988 with Kevin Kline and Blythe Danner; Richard III in 1990 with Denzel Washington; Othello in 1991 with Raul Julia and Christopher Walken; The Tempest in 1995 with Patrick Stewart; The Seagull in 2001 with Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Philip Seymour Hoffman; Mother Courage in 2006 with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline; Macbeth in 2006 with Liev Schreiber; HAIR in 2008 with Jonathan Groff and Will Swenson; Twelfth Night in 2009 with Anne Hathaway; The Merchant of Venice in 2010 with Al Pacino and Lily Rabe; and most recently last summer's acclaimed productions of All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure.