Shakespeare and Sondheim in the Park

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Shakespeare in the Park is -- and no pun intended -- a New York theater lover’s midsummer night’s dream. This is the 50th anniversary year of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare productions in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, which opened in 1962 with a version of The Merchant of Venice that starred George C. Scott as Shylock.

On the playbill this summer are the Shakespeare play As You Like It, and a classic of the American musical theater, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods.

The Sondheim production opens July 23, but As You Like It is currently up and running through the end of this month. The production, directed by Daniel Sullivan, moves the Forest of Arden from the traditional England or France to the American South, with costumes and music that might surprise audience members who come expecting a stereotypical “Shakespeare” scene setting.

The central character of the play is Rosalind, a young woman who, disguised as a young man, must also disguise her feelings about love. Lily Rabe plays the role, surrounded by a number of distinguished actors from stage and screen. This is the play that contains the famous speech beginning with “All the world’s a stage ... ."

New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood has marked the entrances and exits of the men and women playing their parts, and offers his review.