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5 Unique Ways to See Shakespeare in NYC This Season

Category Broadway

|by Mikey Miller |

From ‘King Lear’ to ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’

The English-speaking world often claims William Shakespeare as its greatest writer. His plays have been performed time and time again for the past several centuries, and people are always looking for new and interesting ways to update, adapt and riff off his texts. Although the hit Broadway musical Something Rotten! may have taught us that “it’s hard to be the bard,” it’s definitely easy to get your fix of Shakespeare in New York this season in some unique ways.

Nathan Lane in ‘Gary,’ Kelli O’Hara in ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’ and Glenda Jackson in ‘King Lear’ (Photos: Julieta Cervantes; Joan Marcus; Brigitte Lacombe)

Nathan Lane in ‘Gary,’ Kelli O’Hara in ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’ and Glenda Jackson in ‘King Lear’ (Photos: Julieta Cervantes; Joan Marcus; Brigitte Lacombe)

King Lear starring Glenda Jackson on Broadway
King Lear has been cited as one of the most challenging roles in the dramatic canon. For the first time ever on Broadway, His Royal Highness is currently being played by none other than a woman, Tony, Academy and Emmy Award winner Glenda Jackson, who is just coming off a successful run as “A” in the 2018 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. Critics have been praising Jackson for her rich portrayal of Lear, and should she win the Tony for her performance, she would be the first actress to win Best Actress in a Play two years in a row. Jayne Houdyshell and Ruth Wilson also assume roles traditionally played by male actors.

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
What happened after Titus Andronicus, after everyone important in Roman society is dead? What happens to the bodies, and how does society live on? Taylor Mac’s raunchy comedy revisits the story of the Clown, a throwaway character in the Shakespearean text, names him Gary, and decides that he is left to clean up the remains of those who inhabited Rome. Gary, portrayed by three-time Tony Award winner Nathan Lane, must team up with Janice (an experienced maid in the kingdom) to finish up the job, or he risks execution himself.

Kiss Me, Kate!: A Musical Taming of the Shrew
Widely regarded as a paragon of classic Broadway-style musical comedy, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate! actually claims Shakespearean roots. The backstage-set story follows Fred Graham (Smash’s Will Chase), an egotistical actor and director who has lured his actress ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Kelli O’Hara), back from Hollywood to star alongside him in a jazz-infused musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Both Lilli and Fred’s comically vicious relationship and the musical-within-a-musical pay homage to the bard’s wit. Kiss Me, Kate! is currently playing a limited engagement that ends June 30th at Studio 54, so see it while you can.

Drunk Shakespeare
Who doesn’t love fancy Shakespearean language uttered by people who are under the influence? A mainstay of New York theater, nestled right in the Theatre District at 47th Street and 8th Avenue and playing nine times a week, Drunk Shakespeare asks the question of what happens when a professional actor takes five shots of whiskey and is then forced to perform a Shakespearean role to the best of their ability. Marvelous mayhem ensues.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New York City Ballet
What better way to imbue new life into one of Shakespeare’s most joyous comedies than through dance? From May 26 to June 2, the New York City Ballet, housed at the David H. Koch Theatre in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, will perform the balletic version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The ballet, which was premiered by the New York City Ballet in 1962 and was the group’s first production in their current theater, is set to music by German composer Felix Mendelssohn, and is choreographed by George Balanchine. Celebrate the magical, romantic and theatrical joys of Midsummer just as summer begins!

For more of the best of New York Theater, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in April 2019.

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