The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park begins its summer of performances with a production of Richard III starring Danai Gurira in the titular role. Following a schedule delay, previews for the Shakespeare tragedy begin June 21 in Central Park's Delacorte Theater, with a company opening night and red carpet June 30, a press opening July 10, and a run through July 17
Gurira stars as Richard III, joined by Wyatt Cirbus as Prince of Wales, Sanjit De Silva as Buckingham, Sam Duncan as Duke of York, Monique Holt as Duchess of York, Gregg Mozgala as King Edward IV and as Richmond, Paul Niebanck as George, Michael Potts as Lord Stanley, Ariel Shafir as Lord Hastings, Heather Alicia Simmsas Queen Elizabeth, Ali Stroker as Anne, Sharon Washington as Queen Margaret, and Daniel J. Watts as Catesby Ratcliffe.
The ensemble includes Maleni Chaitoo, Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Skyler Gallun, Sarah Nina Hayon, Matthew Jeffers, Matt Monaco, Xavier Pacheco, Marcus Raye Pérez, Grace Porter, and N'yomi Stewart.
Tony nominee Robert O'Hara (Slave Play) directs the production. The creative team also features scenic designer Myung Hee Cho, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Alex Jainchill, hair and wig designer Nikiya Mathis, fight directors Teniece Divya Johnson and Jeremy Sample, and movement director Byron Easley. Johnson also serves as intimacy director, Bryan Bauer as production stage manager, and Heather Englander as stage manager. Sound design and composition are by Elisheba Ittoop.
Gurira earned a 2009 Tony nomination for Eclipsed, and previously starred in Free Shakespeare in the Park's Measure for Measure in 2011. She is well-known as Michonne in the AMC series Walking Dead and Okoye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
“Richard III speaks to the dangerous machinations that we have witnessed by leaders throughout history, but most acutely in recent years in our own government," shared director O'Hara in a statement. "While navigating the projections of those around him by his decision to ‘prove the villain,’ Richard is our unreliable narrator, protagonist, and antagonist, drawing us deeper and deeper into his murderous mayhem. I am thrilled to collaborate again with the brilliant, multi-talented Danai Gurira as she returns to The Delacorte in the title role of this infamous usurper King, full of bloody confrontations, political intrigue, and familial toxicity.”
Richard III was last seen on The Delacorte stage in 1990 with Denzel Washington in the title role. Free Shakespeare in the Park's second summer production, Public Works' As You Like It, will begin its run August 10.
For more information, visit PublicTheater.org.