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The Delacorte Theater is a 1,800-seat open-air theater located in Central Park, in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It is home to the Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park productions.
Over five million people have attended more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte Theater since its opening in 1962.
The theater is named in honor of George T. Delacorte, Jr., who donated money for its establishment, after several seasons presented by Joseph Papp's Shakespeare Workshop (founded in 1954) had been touring New York's boroughs on temporary staging and had proved the venture worthwhile. Papp had started seeking funds in 1958 for a permanent outdoor amphitheater in Central Park, under the aegis of Helen Hayes. Papp believed theater was essential for all to experience, and that it should be free for all. These conceits, and Papp's personal drive and determination, are what propelled Shakespeare in the Park into becoming one of New York City's most treasured and beloved traditions.
Notable recent productions include Amy Adams, Denis O'Hare and Donna Murphy in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods, Lily Rabe in As You Like It, Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice, Anne Hathaway and Audra McDonald in Twelfth Night, and the 2008 revival of HAIR.
The Public is known for casting both seasoned talent and for providing exposure for up and coming actors in Park productions, including Billy Crudup, Morgan Freeman, Marcia Gay Harden, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Walken and Denzel Washington, not to mention dozens of directors and designers.
In 2010, Shakespeare in the Park featured repertory casting for the first time in decades. Two shows, The Merchant of Venice and The Winter's Tale, ran on an alternating basis over the course of the series and featured largely the same cast. The trend continued in the 2011 season.
The 2011 season, featured All's Well That Ends Well, directed by Daniel Sullivan, and Measure for Measure, directed by David Esbjornson, running in repertory on alternate evenings. The repertory cast featured John Cullum, Danai Gurira, Michael Hayden, Annie Parisse, Tonya Pinkins, and Reg Rogers.
The 2012 season celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte Theater, featuring Lily Rabe and Oliver Platt in Shakespeare's As You Like It directed by Daniel Sullivan and Amy Adams and Donna Murphy in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods, a transfer of an outdoor production done in Regent's Park in London in 2010.
The season also featured a one-night only reading of Romeo and Juliet starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in the two lead roles, supported by Phylicia Rashād, Sam Waterston, Sandra Oh, Bill Irwin, Christine Baranski, John Cullum, Raúl Esparza, Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Stiller, Christopher Walken and others.
The Public’s 2013 season began with The Comedy of Errors, directed by Dan Sullivan and featuring Shakespeare in the Park alumni Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Dromio and Hamish Linklater as Antipholus. Ferguson and Linklater last performed together in The Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice in 2010 for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park.
The second show of the 2013 season is a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Alex Timbers with songs by Michael Friedman, and book adaptation by Alex Timbers. Timbers and Friedman last collaborated on the award-winning musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at The Public and Timbers will direct the new David Byrne musical Here Lies Love this spring at The Public’s downtown home at Astor Place.
2014 will feature Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe and John Lithgow all in starring roles. Linklater and Rabe take on the witty love-match of Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeares' Much Ado About Nothing while Lithgow will tackle one of the great Shakespearean roles of King Lear.
Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are free and can only be obtained the day of a performance. At 12 noon tickets are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte to the line of people that usually springs up early in the morning when the park opens at 6AM. People have been known to camp out at the park entrance closest to the theater, 81st & Central Park West, to get tickets for that day's performance. Anyone 5 years old and older can obtain and are required to have a ticket should they wish to see the show. The 2013 Season features a new policy that one person can only obtain two tickets for two performances of one production.
In addition to the main line which snakes through the park the Public also offers a few other options to get tickets. One being the line for Seniors which begins at the benches closest to the theater's box office. The tickets provided to that line have easy access inside the theater and are only available to persons 65 and above. ID is required to obtain the tickets.
The ADA Accessible line is intended for patrons with disabilities and can by joined by checking in with staff at the box office the morning of a performance who will provide, as availability dictates, tickets in locations suited to various individual needs. In addition to the line Shakespeare in the Park also offers specific performances throughout the summer for patrons with hearing and/or vision loss including Sign Language interpreted performances, audio-described performances, and open-captioned performances.
In 2009 the Public introduced the Virtual Ticketing system which is an online drawing to win tickets to that days performance without waiting in line in person. On the day of a show, users can log on to shakespeareinthepark.org anytime between midnight and 11:59 a.m. to register for that evening’s performance. After 12:00 p.m. that same day, users will receive an e-mail stating that they have received tickets to the show. Tickets can be claimed at the Delacorte box office between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. under the name and address used for registration. A valid photo ID is required for all pick-ups at the Box Office. Any tickets not claimed by 7:00 p.m. will be given away to the stand-by line. Within the Virtual Ticketing system Seniors can register for the Senior Virtual Ticketing as long as they are 65 or older and have valid photo ID with proof of age. And any patron requiring Accessible (ADA) seating can also make that clear when registering and specific tickets will be provided according to their specific needs.
In addition to the ticket line at the Delacorte Theater and Virtual Ticketing online, a limited number of vouchers for specific performances are distributed at locations throughout New York City's five boroughs on certain days during the run of a production. Each person in line is allowed two vouchers and each voucher is good for one ticket for that evening’s performance. Vouchers must be exchanged for tickets at the Delacorte Theater box office that same day from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tickets cannot be exchanged in the event the performance is rained-out, which is a possibility. A performance will never be cancelled before the scheduled start time and may continue in the rain if it is deemed safe by the production staff. Late seating is at the discretion of management and may not be granted until 30-40 minutes into the show.