The Shakespeare in the Park production of Merry Wives officially opens August 9 at the outdoor Delacorte Theater following previews that began July 6. The opening, originally set for July 27, was postponed following an injury sustained by Jacob Ming-Trent during a performance. During his absence, understudy Brandon E. Burton performed as Falstaff.
The Public Theater's free staging, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor penned by Jocelyn Bioh, is directed by Associate Artistic Director and Resident Director Saheem Ali and continues through September 18. (The Public will close out the summer with its annual gala September 20, featuring a performance of Merry Wives.)
The Public also canceled performances July 21–23 following a member of the production testing positive for COVID-19.
The cast also features Abena as Anne Page, Shola Adewusi as Mama Quickly, Gbenga Akinnagbe as Mister Nduka Ford, Pascale Armand as Madam Ekua Page, MaYaa Boateng as Fenton/Simple, Phillip James Brannon as Pastor Evans, Joshua Echebiri as Slender/Pistol, Julian Rozzell Jr. as Shallow, Kyle Scatliffe as Mister Kwame Page, David Ryan Smith as Doctor Caius, and Susan Kelechi Watson as Madam Nkechi Ford with ensemble members Brandon E. Burton, Branden Lindsay, Ebony Marshall-Oliver, Jarvis D. Matthews, and Jennifer Mogbock.
Set in South Harlem amid a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants, Merry Wives 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 outdoor production also has 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 Mendez, choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie, hair, wigs, and make-up design by Cookie Jordan, and sound system design by Jessica Paz. Narda E. Alcorn serves as production stage manager.
People ticketed into full capacity sections must show proof of full vaccination before entering the theatre. Those age 12 and over must have received their final vaccination dose at least 14 days before the performance. Attendees in physically distanced sections do not need to show proof of negative testing for entry. For more information about safety protocols, click here.
Free tickets are distributed, two per person, via an advanced digital lottery hosted by Goldstar through its app and website.