Today I’m reporting live from the line for free Shakespeare in the Park! It’s the very first line of 2015!
Tonight is the first public performance of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
You’ve probably heard about Shakespeare in the Park. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember it’s pretty much my absolutely favorite NYC summer activity. World class, theatre, outdoors in Central Park, for FREE!
The only catch is the line.
The infamous line, the dreaded line, the line that scares people so they won’t even go near it.
“I hear you have to wake up at 5AM to get tickets.”
“You think I’m going to camp out in Central Park to see a play? HA!”
“I’m a New Yorker. I hate lines. Fuhgettaboutit.”
This mythical line is where I’m spending my morning. The New York cliché may be to think of it as a huge chore, a never-ending wait, a sentence I’ve madly chosen to serve. But sitting here right now, on a blanket in Central Park, surrounded by people who like Shakespeare, with the sight and sound of sprinklers in front of me, all I can think is it’s a beautiful morning and I get to spend it in Central Park! This is GREAT!
The deal with THE LINE for Shakespeare in the Park
I did NOT join this line at 5AM. I strolled up leisurely at the reasonable hour of 9:30AM. It’s nearly an hour later and if you joined the line now, I’m pretty confident you’d still get tickets! That said, it is a Wednesday morning and tonight is the very first preview. Today is pretty much the easiest day to get tickets. Tomorrow is the second easiest. If you are a person with a normal job and can’t get out of work for a morning, this weekend is the absolute best time to go!
Once reviews for The Tempest come out on June 6th, the line will get longer. The press will remind people, “Oh yeah! Shakespeare in the Park exists! I should go to that!” If the reviews are good some people will decide, “Okay fine, it’s worth my time if some critic says it’s good.” I’ve seen almost every production Shakespeare in the Park has done for the past 8 years. I confidently claim: every single production I’ve seen at the Delacorte was worth seeing, completely worth my time.
This is Shakespeare performed in a naturalistic style by brilliant New York professional actors. Even if the director makes some weird choices, that foundation is solid. The Public Theater has been making Shakespeare accessible to New Yorkers for almost 40 years. They’re fucking good at it.
“I heard they get celebrities for Shakespeare in the Park, who are the celebrities this year??”
Some A-listers have graced the Delacorte stage. Recently Al Pacino starred in The Merchant of Venice, Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night, and Amy Adams in a production of Into the Woods (sometimes they mix it up from Shakespeare). If you’re at a party of theatre people, you’ll likely hear a story about someone who saw Meryl Streep in “Mother Courage” back in ’06. People camped out all night to see Meryl, that was a show it was crazy hard to get tickets for.
There are no big celebrities this year. The star of The Tempest has a very substantial film and television career, but unless you’re a huge Law and Order fan, Sam Waterston probably won’t leave you star struck. Modern Family fans will be happy to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson, theatre fans will be happy to see him return to his roots.
The best thing about the line and waiting in person is that you have a very good idea of whether or not you will get tickets. The line may look long, but unless it’s snaked WAYYYY far around the corner, your chances are very good. The theater is BIG and they give out hundreds of free tickets a day.
If I still haven’t sold you on the line, there are other ways to try to get tickets. Check out my previous post “A Former Usher’s Tips on How to Get Shakespeare in the Park Tickets”. Ushering for Shakespeare in the Park was in fact my very first job in NYC! Also check out Shakespeare in the Park’s FAQs from their website.
At 11:40AM they had us pack up all our stuff, stand up and form a tight line. At 12PM they started handing out tickets. Ant 12:15PM I had 2 tickets in my hot little hand!
The morning sped by and I can’t wait for tonight! I’ll let you know how the show is!