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Susan Kelechi Watson, Jacob Ming-Trent Lead Free Shakespeare in the Park's Merry Wives

The Jocelyn Bioh adaptation will be directed by Saheem Ali.

Susan Kelechi Watson
(image provided by the production)

Casting has been announced for the Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park production of Jocelyn Bioh's adaptation of Merry Wives, directed by Saheem Ali at the Delacorte Theater. Performances will run July 6-September 18, with an opening night on July 27.

Set in South Harlem, amidst a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants, Merry Wives is a New York story about tricks of the heart, performed in the heart of the City — Central Park's magical Delacorte Theater. 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.

The all-Black cast of Merry Wives will include Abena (Anne Page), Shola Adewusi (Mama Quickly), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Mister Nduka Ford), Pascale Armand (Madam Ekua Page), MaYaa Boateng (Fenton/Simple), Phillip James Brannon (Pastor Evans), Brandon E. Burton (ensemble), Joshua Echebiri (Slender/Pistol), Branden Lindsay (ensemble), Ebony Marshall-Oliver (ensemble), Jarvis D. Matthews (ensemble), Jacob Ming-Trent (Falstaff), Jennifer Mogbock (ensemble), Julian Rozzell Jr. (Shallow), Kyle Scatliffe (Mister Kwame Page), David Ryan Smith (Doctor Caius), and Susan Kelechi Watson (Madam Nkechi Ford).

Merry Wives will feature scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Jiyoun Chang, co-sound design by Kai Harada and Palmer Hefferan, original music by Michael Thurber, fight direction by Rocío Mende, choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie, hair, wigs, and make-up design by Cookie Jordan, and sound system design by Jessica Paz. Narda E. Alcorn will serve as production stage manager.

In accordance to New York State guidelines, the theater's capacity will be limited to 428 seats. All patrons over the age of two will be required to wear an approved face mask, will be required to show either proof of completed vaccination course 14 days prior to the performance, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, or a negative rapid antigen test within six hours. This year, free tickets will be distributed, two per person, entirely via an advanced digital lottery.