The Public Theater has announced casting for an original musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which will offer free performances at Central Park's Delacorte Theater from September 6-8. The production comes to The Public as part of its Public Works initiative to promote community-based theater.
"Theater isn't a commodity, it's an experience," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "Public Works aims to reclaim that territory by making participation central to the theatrical event. This is one of the most exciting initiatives The Public has ever embarked upon."
The show features music, lyrics, and a book by Todd Almond (Girlfriend), who also joins the cast as Ariel, along with Tony Award winner Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) as Goddess; Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) as Prospero; Carson Elrod (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Caliban; Jeff Hiller (Love's Labour's Lost) as Trinculo; and Jacob Ming-Trent (Hands on a Hardbody) as Stephano. Public Works has also joined with five community partners, representing each of the boroughs: Children's Aid Society, DreamYard, Fortune Society, Brownsville Recreation Center, and Domestic Workers United. Various participants from these community groups will perform in The Tempest in the ensemble as well as in featured roles.
The Public has also announced seven cameo performers from New York City to be featured in the production: Ballet Tech (choreography by Eliot Feld); the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company; the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Ensemble; the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir; the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance; Raya Brass Band; and Stephen Duncan, a New York City performance artist who specializes in super-sized soap bubbles.
Public Works Director Lear deBessonet will direct the production alongside choreographer Chase Brock. The creative team also features scenic design by Matt Saunders, costume design by Paul Carey, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau, and sound design by Acme Sound Partners.