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4 Shakespeare Plays That Would Be Timely in 2019

Category Broadway

|by Marshall W. Mabry IV |

In honor of the Bard’s birthday

Though Shakespeare’s works are the oldest commonly produced shows, they somehow often manage to be the timeliest. With King Lear and the Shakespeare-inspired Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus currently running on Broadway, as well as Shakespearean homages in current Broadway musical comedies like Kiss Me, Kate! and Tootsie, it’s easy to see that Shakespeare isn’t going anywhere. His works somehow manage to work in a modern context. In honor of the April 23rd anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, here are 4 of his plays that could work perfectly in 2019.

Leslie Donna Flesner, Shina Ann Morris, Santino Fontana and Julie Halston in ‘Tootsie,’ which features a Shakespearean musical-within-a-musical called ‘Juliet’s Nurse’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Leslie Donna Flesner, Shina Ann Morris, Santino Fontana and Julie Halston in ‘Tootsie,’ which features a Shakespearean musical-within-a-musical called ‘Juliet’s Nurse’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Othello, when you boil it down, is a story of love, deceit and how we love, and is one of Shakespeare’s most inherently human pieces. Othello is the story of a young soldier fighting for acceptance from himself and society until the wrong person catches his ear. It deals with trust and who you allow to influence your life. Iago, Othello’s friend and betrayer, has become the benchmark for villains, and his psychological warfare has stood the test of time. With theater actors like Sterling K. Brown, Brian Tyree Henry and Winston Duke currently taking the big screen by storm, this could be their return to the stage.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream
Could any other Shakespeare piece be this meta? A Midsummer’s Night Dream is regarded as one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, featuring a weird love triangle that’s tested by a king’s disapproval, fairies, a donkey and a play. It is probably the most bizarre Shakespeare piece you’ll see in a theater. It’s an ensemble piece that would lend itself well to a star-studded cast of actors.

Hamlet might be the most heightened, but also the most relatable role in Shakespeare’s canon. Hamlet is as normal as a prince can be until his father’s death and mother’s remarriage begin to send him down the rabbit hole. He starts to lose his mind, his love and who he is. Everything about him fades, and that’s where the magic is in Hamlet. You get to watch an actor create a character, unlearn himself within an act, and then rebuild it. It’s a transformative piece for actors, and is known as Shakespeare’s best work. Actors like Michael Urie and Benedict Cumberbatch have taken on the behemoth, and would almost certainly feel at home in the material if it were revived on Broadway.

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is the love story to end all love stories. Nearly every popular romantic story since its release has been based on it in some way. You root for the title characters’ love to be greater than kingdom’s worries, rivalries and politics. Love is the one thing that’ll always attract an audience and, like clockwork, Romeo and Juliet is revived and reimagined every decade or so on Broadway. Last time it starred Tony nominee Condola Rashad (Saint Joan, A Doll’s House Part 2) and Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean), who were phenomenal. We’re excited to see what this story could become, or what shape it would take in a modernized version.

For more of the best of Broadway and beyond, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in May 2019

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