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Check Out These 8 Shows If You Love Shakespeare in the Park

June 22, 2018 by Mary McKinny
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Heather Lind and Chukwudi Iwuji in “Othello” (Photographed by Joan Marcus)

Enjoying Shakespeare al fresco is as much of a New York City tradition as spotting a Mister Softee truck on each corner and wrestling to install your air conditioning unit. But if you’ve already queued up for your free tickets to “Othello” (or were smart and entered the TodayTix Lottery), here are a handful of other shows with a similar vibe.

Midsummer Night Swing
Like sipping rosé, dancing is just more fun when you’re outside. A smashing lineup of musicians — ranging from Big Band to tango, disco to salsa — take over Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park through July 14. Got two left feet? The open-air dance party is open to newcomers and pros alike, and dancing’s not actually required.

Drunk Shakespeare
If you’re a fan of Drunk History, then this is the show for you. A professional actor slams five shots of whiskey and then attempts to perform a Shakespearean play (the titles rotate each night). The drunk player is assisted by four other actors (don’t worry, they also rotate), who try to help keep the play on track. Two lucky audience members are also chosen as the night’s King and Queen, and those titles come with extra drinks, the power to make decisions about the action, and, of course, crowns.

The lineup for this speakeasy-set symposium is varied, with comedy, science talks, storytelling nights, concerts, trivia competitions, live podcasts, and special events all taking a turn. You might witness a fully improvised musical or hip-hopera, take part in an interactive debate, or learn the secret histories behind New York City’s past. No matter what, you’re sure to walk out a little smarter than when you came in.

The Band’s Visit
There’s a touch of Shakespearean magic to this intimate musical, which swept the 2018 Tony Awards with 10 wins, including Best Musical. A touring Egyptian police band gets on the wrong bus, ending up in a tiny desert town. To their surprise, the locals welcome them and everyone finds their lives changed in one way or another before the bus returns the next day.

Ozy Fest
During the weekend of July 21-22, you can head to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park to listen to a different assortment of stars. Martha Stewart, Michelle Wolf, Salman Rushdie, Christian Siriano, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Laverne Cox, Malcolm Gladwell, and Common are just a few of the big-time names you’ll find at this do-it-all festival, which combines hot music acts, laugh-out loud comedy, global business leaders, best-selling authors, cultural influencers, and award-winning chefs.

Beat the Bomb
Even if you don’t always understand what Shakespeare’s characters are saying, their meaning usually comes across crystal-clear. Communication is also key in this interactive experience, which drops you in an ‘80s-style video game where you have to hack computers, navigate a laser maze, and crack codes on your way to the bomb room in a test of teamwork.


Guilty Pleasures Cabaret
The Duplex in Greenwich Village gets transformed into Coney Island by an all-female creative team, who have programmed a night of sultry song and dance. The cheeky revue redefines the American cabaret experience, though the standard two-drink minimum still applies.

The Let Go
Much like the Public Works project, which puts members of the community into Shakespeare plays produced by The Public Theater (this year’s show is “Twelfth Night”), interdisciplinary artist Nick Cave is inviting regular folks to participate. Express yourself through movement as some of New York’s leading DJs spin, and engage in a dance line or game of Twister while following “chase,” the multi-colored, 100-foot-long mylar sculpture that glides across the dance floor.