Shakespeare In The Park Increases Audience Capacity For ‘Merry Wives’ As New York Covid Restrictions Ease

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The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Merry Wives will begin performances next month with audience capacity at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater expanded significantly over what was previously announced.

Though masks will be required for audiences at the beloved New York summertime institution, audience size will be expanded from the previously announced 428 to 1,468, or approximately 80% of the 1,800-seat Delacorte.

“We are thrilled with the news that we will be able to welcome far more New Yorkers into The Delacorte than was previously possible,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “What better sign that New York is returning than our theater in Central Park full of laughter, applause, and excitement.”

Eustis said that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent “decree to lift restrictions acknowledges a beautiful reality: we are finally starting to recover from COVID-19. And how gorgeous that when we gather, we’ll be in the most democratic of civic spaces. Shakespeare in the Park is free because the culture belongs to everyone…”

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Adapted from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor by playwright Jocelyn Bioh, the all-Black staging begins performances at Central Park’s Delacorte on Tuesday, July 6, with an official opening night of Tuesday, July 27. The musical runs through Saturday, Sept. 18.

Proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test will not be required for entry to the outdoor production, but all patrons over the age of two must wear an approved mask in accordance with theatrical union requirements and under the guidance of the Public’s health advisory consultants. Policies may be updated.

As described by the Public, Merry Wives is set in South Harlem amidst a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants: “A raucous spinoff featuring the Bard’s most beloved comic characters, this hilarious farce tells the story of the trickster Falstaff and the wily wives who outwit him in a new celebration of Black joy, laughter, and vitality.”

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