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Shaina Taub, left, and the cast of "As You Like It" at the Public Theater. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Public Theater to Premiere ‘Hercules’ Musical

Alan Menken and Kristoffer Diaz will adapt the Disney movie for a free production at Shakespeare in the Park.

NEW YORK CITY: The Public Theater has announced the line up for Shakespeare in the Park, its annual summer program of free theatre at the Delacorte Theater in Manhattan’s Central Park. This year’s lineup includes a Much Ado About Nothing directed by Kenny Leon, Coriolanus directed by Daniel Sullivan, and a world premiere adaptation of Disney’s Hercules.

Shakespeare in the Park will launch in may with Much Ado About Nothing (May 21-June 23). Leon promises a modern version of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.

Next will be the drama Coriolanus, which will also be presented in a modern setting (July 16-Aug. 11). This will be Sullivan’s 10th production with Shakespeare in the Park.

Then to close out the summer season, the theatre will present Hercules, adapted from the Disney film of the same name (Aug. 31-Sept 8). The musical tells the story of the son of Zeus, who seeks to reclaim his god-hood by being a hero. It will feature music music by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel, book by Kristoffer Diaz, and will be directed by Lear deBessonet. The show will be presented in the Public Works format, which will bring together professional actors and community members. Hercules will also feature choreography by Chase Brock and new music by Menken and Zippel.

Hercules will also feature partnership with NYC community organizations: Brownsville Recreation Center, Center for Family Life, DreamYard, The Fortune Society, and Military Resilience Foundation, along with alumni partners Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Children’s Aid, and Domestic Workers United.

Since its inception in 2013, Public Works has developed original musicals and featured local performers. The musicals have been produced around the country as part of the Public Works National Affiliates program. This year, there will be Public Works affiliates in 10 cities and there will be three productions at Dallas Theater Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the National Theatre in London (they will all produce Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery’s musical version of As You Like It).

Since 1962, more than five million people have attended free performances of Shakespeare in the Park. It was conceived by Public Theater founder Joseph Papp.

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