The Public Theater has canceled the July 23 performances of Merry Wives following a member of the production testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. The Shakespeare in the Park production had also been canceled July 21 and 22.
In a July 23 posting on Twitter, the Off-Broadway company said, "To support the artistic and logistical efforts required to restart performances, we are cancelling our performance on Friday, July 23. We’ll continue adhering to the rigorous testing and daily health and safety protocols needed to support a safe and joyful experience for all at Free Shakespeare in the Park. More information about future performances will be shared soon."
The Public Theater's staging, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor penned by Jocelyn Bioh, began previews July 6. Earlier this week, it was announced that the official opening, originally scheduled for July 27, had been moved to August 9 following an injury sustained by Jacob Ming-Trent during a recent performance. Understudy Brandon E. Burton performs as Falstaff while Ming-Trent recuperates.
Directed by Associate Artistic Director and Resident Director Saheem Ali, the production is currently scheduled to continue through September 18. The Public will close out the summer with its annual gala September 20, featuring a performance of Merry Wives.
The cast also features Abena as Anne Page, Shola Adewusi as Mama Quickly, Gbenga Akinnagbe as Mister Nduka Ford, Pascale Armand as Madam Ekua Page, MaYaa Boateng as Fenton/Simple, Phillip James Brannon as Pastor Evans, Joshua Echebiri as Slender/Pistol, Julian Rozzell Jr. as Shallow, Kyle Scatliffe as Mister Kwame Page, David Ryan Smith as Doctor Caius, and Susan Kelechi Watson as Madam Nkechi Ford with ensemble members Brandon E. Burton, Branden Lindsay, Ebony Marshall-Oliver, Jarvis D. Matthews, and Jennifer Mogbock.
Set in South Harlem amid a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants, Merry Wives tells the story of the trickster Falstaff and the wily wives who outwit him in a new celebration of Black joy, laughter, and vitality.
The outdoor production also has scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Jiyoun Chang, co-sound design by Kai Harada and Palmer Hefferan, original music by Michael Thurber, fight direction by Rocío Mendez, choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie, hair, wigs, and make-up design by Cookie Jordan, and sound system design by Jessica Paz. Narda E. Alcorn serves as production stage manager.
People ticketed into full capacity sections must show proof of full vaccination before entering the theatre. Those age 12 and over must have received their final vaccination dose at least 14 days before the performance. Attendees in physically distanced sections do not need to show proof of negative testing for entry. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask for entry and when moving around. Those in full capacity sections have the option to remove their mask when sitting in their ticketed seat. Those in physically distanced sections must keep their face mask on. For more information about safety protocols, click here.
Free tickets are distributed, two per person, via an advanced digital lottery hosted by Goldstar through its app and website.