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Julius Caesar is done — what's next for outdoor theater in NYC

Anything can happen when shows get outdoors and make the streets and parks of NYC their theater.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot by The Drilling Company Photo: Lee Wexler, Images for Innovation
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot by The Drilling Company Photo: Lee Wexler, Images for Innovation

New York City's 2017 outdoor theater season got off to an exciting start with the modern-day adaptation of “Julius Caesar” that turned ancient Rome into Trump’s America. While Shakespeare in the Park does tend to grab headlines, it’s just one of many productions bringing theater outdoors for the season to the city’s parks and parking lots. The best part: Many of these shows are free, and just a subway ride away. 

New York Classical Theatre

For 17 years as the city’s only all-free professional theater troupe, New York Classical Theatre has been bringing the stage to the street. The company’s 2017 summer season kicks off with “The Rivals,” a comedy of manners by Richard Brinsley Sheridan in Central Park (through July 2), followed by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” at The Battery’s Castle Clinton (July 31-Aug. 20). Both shows will continue playing short stints at various other parks in the city. newyorkclassical.org

Bryant Park Presents

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Bryant Park’s summer schedule of events, which reads almost like it’s challenging you to think of something you can’t do in a park. From opera to theater for young audiences, Bryant Park has an eclectic and totally free season of live entertainment in store — and they even provide blankets to watch from the lawn! Get a taste of the hottest Broadway and off-Broadway productions on Thursday afternoons as the casts of “Cats,” the “Hamilton” parody “Spamilton” and the new smash hit “Groundhog Day,” among others, take the stage (July 6-Aug. ​10, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.) And there’s Shakespeare, of course, with “Twelfth Night” (July 28-30) and “The Tempest” (Aug. 25-Sept. 9). bryantpark.org

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

The setting may not be glamorous, but you won’t miss the trappings of a theater once the Drilling Company starts weaving its tale. As they’ve done every summer since 2006, the company will pull up some chairs for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot at The Clemente. First up is “All’s Well That Ends Well,” a tricky comedy about a woman who really will do anything for love. Expect this to be a blockbuster ­— it’s been on the company’s production wish list since the beginning (July 6-22). Next up is the bloody saga of revenge that is “Henry VI, Part 3,” about what society loses when it goes to war (July 27-Aug. 12). Shows take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., 114 Norfolk St., Lower East Side, shakespeareintheparkinglot.com

 

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SummerStage

Watch what happens when Latinx performers and music mix with Pablo Neruda’s Spanish translation of “Romeo and Juliet.” This free event, presented as part of SummerStage’s series of concerts and performances held in all five boroughs, will be held at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx on July 26. If you’re in the mood for dialogue outside of the normal iambic pentameter offerings, check out excerpts from Broadway’s “A Bronx Tale” (yep, the one based on the hit play that inspired the classic film) in the Bronx’s Crotona Park on Aug. 3. Various locations; summerstage.org

The Classical Theatre of Harlem

This dynamic theater company will present Catherine Bush’s adaptation of “The Three Musketeers,” based on the beloved book by Alexandre Dumas. The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s action-packed free production will hit the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park as the outlaw swashbucklers rise up against their tyrannous cardinal to show the power of courage and unity. July 9-31, 18 Mount Morris Park West, cthnyc.org

Piper Theatre Productions

Go west this summer — to Arizona! Piper Theatre Productions is putting on the Broadway smash and gender-bending jukebox musical “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” (July 6-22). Director John P. McEneny moved the show’s original setting from the Outback to the wastelands of Arizona to align the themes of homophobia, transgender rights and equality to our current landscape. Later this summer, Piper Theatre, in association with Theater in Asylum, will premiere “The Brontes,” an original musical (July 9-23) exploring the struggles of the Bronte family that led to such dark works as “Wuthering Heights.” Old Stone House & Washington Park, Fifth Avenue and Third Street, Park Slope; pipertheatre.org

Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater’s annual free duet of plays in Central Park certainly got off to a controversial start with “Julius Caesar.” Its second production offers a comedic antidote to the hard-hitting political tragedy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” about the troublesome spirits ready to meddle in mankind’s already messy affairs of love. July 11-Aug. 13, Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West; publictheater.org

 

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