The Tempest

Something for Everyone
Shakespeare in The Park – The Tempest
Dark and Stormy, Wild and Wonderful
One Enchanted Evening With
Law and Order’s Sam Waterston
Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Boom! The clash of thunder jolts; physically awakening every sense as The Tempest opens. Belvedere Castle beckons in the background, a teasing glimpse of land framing the shipwreck that anchors this Shakespeare tale of sound and fury, love and redemption in Central Park. Bare-staged the stark set brings us into the world of Prospero (Academy Award nominee Sam Waterson) robbed of his throne, exiled to an “Isle full of noises” and bent on revenge. The evening delivers something for everyone – drama, comedy and a love story within a tale of betrayal and redemption – skillfully, passionately directed by Tony Award nominee Michael Grief (Romeo and Juliet, If/Then, Next To Normal.)

Modern Family fans will delight in Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Trinculo, one half of a pair of stumblebums. A jester who is petulantly, perfectly hysterically funny. Paired with the perpetually sloshed Stephano, the butler (Danny Mastrogiorgio), together they bring us Shakespearean comedy at its most ribald and raucous. Accompanied by the clueless Caliban, a deformed slave who’s deprived but not depraved, played with earnestness and muscularity by Louis Cancelmi (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), this trio of not so swift schemers adds hilarity with madcap misadventures: Too much wine deflects them from their ill-advised plot to off Prospero.

Ariel (played by Chris Perfetti), a willful sprite barely contained in an s&m-ready black leather harness, instigates much magical mischief at his master’s bidding, heeding Prospero’s plans of revenge against his dastardly, throne-thieving brother all in pursuit of his own freedom. But this is Shakespeare remember and the Bard has a crowd to please…so enter romance as Prospero’s daughter Miranda (the lovely, luminous Francesca Carpanini presently a Julliard student), whom her father so fiercely guards, finds on this fantasy island the love of her life, the first man other than her father and Caliban, she has ever seen: Ferdinad (an athletic Rodney Richardson – catch his back flip for joy!), the son of the King of Naples.

Plots thicken, of course and devious deeds are divulged, but like the tide, evil is eventually drawn out to sea as all’s well that ends well here on this no longer troubled Isle. The calm that follows the storm as Prospero relinquishes not only his daughter but his quest for revenge leaves the audience walking on sunshine and wondering how they too can find “such stuff that dreams are made on.”

The Tempest plays at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park until July 5, 2015. Tickets are free, go to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline is next this summer starting July 23, 2015. Stay tuned for a fairy tale of cross-dressing girls and boys armed with poisons and ready for swordfights but ready to reveal the conquering power of love. Lily Rabe, Kate Burton and Raul Esparza lead a stellar cast.

More than five million people have visited the Delacorte Theater for free performances of Shakespeare in the Park, making it one of New York City’s most beloved summer traditions. Celebrating its 53rd Anniversary in 2015, the Delacorte Theater officially opened in Central Park on June 18, 1962. Over the years star-studded performances have unfolded under evening skies as George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Raul Julia, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, Blythe Danner; Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Patrick Stewart, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Groff, Anne Hathaway, Al Pacino, Lily Rabe, Amy Adams, and John Lithgow have all performed al fresco. Of course, the occasional raccoon attempts to upstage such serious talent but nature finds its own balance between theatre and life outdoors in the heart of Central Park.