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Twelfth Night, or What You Will, in the Park

Yesterday morning I crawled (literally) out of my incredibly comfortable bed at 4:30 AM, so that I could get on one of the only subways that seems to run that early in the morning, and find myself at Central Park by 5:45 AM.  We then grabbed a spot at the end of the line, threw down an old blanket, and went promptly back to sleep.

By the time we woke up, freezing of course, the line behind us had elongated to the point where we couldn’t see the end (the beginning neither, but we knew we were close).  Then began the rest of the 7 hour stretch for free tickets to this years Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater just off the Great Lawn in Central Park.

It was worth the wait.

Charles Isherwood in the New York Times called this year’s show “the most consistently pleasurable the city has seen in at least a decade…. Certainly one of the most accomplished Shakespeare in the Park productions the Public Theater has fielded in some time.”

I’m no theatre critic, but rest assured: Isherwood is not exaggerating in the least.  Laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously melodramatic, and beautifully set, Twelfth Night is the best Shakespeare I’ve seen since moving to the city over five years ago.

For me the highlight of the show was the music.  Written and performed by indie-folk band Hem and sung by the cast (which included Anne Hathaway, Raul Esparza, and David Pittu), the music set the mood in the outdoor theater (which was dressed to look like a slice of the park itself) and by the end had the audience on their feet in a standing ovation.  Thankfully, they’ll be releasing the soundtrack within a few weeks: you can preorder the album here.

The show is running through July 12th.  If you’re going to go, get there early.  Words of warning: nobody that arrived after 7 o’clock got tickets that morning.  So pack up a picnic, bring along that book you’ve been wanting to read, and settle in for a long wait.  You won’t regret that missed sleep.

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