Tony Award winner Kenny Leon during rehearsal for HAMLET (Photo by Joan Marcus)

HAMLET promises to be a tour-de-force nine-week production under the creative direction of Kenny Leon, whose enchanting 2019 production of Much Ado About Nothing received acclaim and praise. Leon’s contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece explores timeless themes of Family, betrayal, and the human condition against the backdrop of Central Park.

The stellar cast of HAMLET includes Ato Blankson-Wood in the titular role, Liam Craig as the understudy, and a host of talented performers, such as Brandon Gill as Guildenstern, Safiya Kaija Harris, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson, Greg Hildreth, Solea Pfeiffer, and John Douglas Thompson. With a diverse and accomplished ensemble, this production is poised to bring Shakespeare’s characters to life with depth and authenticity.

Director Kenny Leon shares his excitement for this production: “A 400-year-old play exploring the need for a strong foundation of Family, with music and words, Shakespeare’s Hamlet has much to say about humanity and the importance of our connectedness to each other. We set this production in 2021, filled with all of the challenges we face as Americans as we explore our need to love more profoundly both nature and its people.”

The history of HAMLET at The Delacorte Theater adds to the anticipation surrounding this year’s production. In the theatre’s 61-year legacy, HAMLET has graced the stage four times, with notable performances etched in the memories of theatergoers. In 2008, Michael Stuhlbarg took on the role of Hamlet, accompanied by Lauren Ambrose as Ophelia, Andre Braugher as Claudius, and David Harbour as Laertes, in a production directed by Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. This rendition showcased the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s tragic tale.

The Delacorte Theater also saw remarkable productions of HAMLET in 1975, directed by Michael Rudman, with Sam Waterston in the lead role and Ruby Dee as Gertrude. In 1972, Gerald Freedman helmed a memorable staging with Stacy Keach as Hamlet, James Earl Jones as Claudius, and Raul Julia as Osric, leaving an indelible mark on the theatrical landscape. In 1964, two years after The Delacorte opened, Public Theater founder Joseph Papp directed a production featuring Alfred Ryder as Hamlet, Howard Da Silva as Claudius, and Julie Harris as Ophelia, marking the beginning of a tradition that continues to captivate audiences.

Since its inception in 1962, Free Shakespeare in the Park has welcomed over five million people to enjoy over 150 free productions of Shakespeare’s work and other classical pieces. Under Joseph Papp’s guidance, Public Theater created this initiative to make exceptional theater accessible to all. Free tickets for HAMLET will be distributed across New York City. The virtual ticket lottery, facilitated by TodayTix, will also offer a chance to secure tickets online. 

As the city eagerly awaits the arrival of HAMLET, The Public Theater is working diligently to ensure the safety and well-being of all attendees. In line with evolving COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, protocols will be announced in May 2023, guaranteeing everyone a secure and enjoyable experience.

The Public Theater gratefully acknowledges the Jerome L. Greene Foundation as the season sponsor, whose generous support enables the realization of their mission to create exceptional, accessible theater for all. The partnership with the foundation underscores the importance of fostering inclusivity and artistic excellence in the performing arts.

In addition to the enchanting performances in the park, The Public Theater’s Annual Gala will be on June 12, offering a star-studded evening of dinner and captivating performances on the lush grounds of The Delacorte Theater. This year, the Gala will honor Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, for his remarkable philanthropic contributions to the arts. The Public will also celebrate Marlla-Altagracia Torres as the community honoree, recognizing her invaluable work as the Family & School Partnership Coordinator for LION Charter School.

The Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) has announced the highly anticipated Free Shakespeare in the Park production of HAMLET, directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon. This summer, The Delacorte Theater in Central Park will come alive with a mesmerizing rendition of Shakespeare’s classic drama, captivating audiences from June 8 to August 6, with an official press opening on June 28. Free tickets for HAMLET — The Public Theater Presents HAMLET — June 8 to August 6.

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