Danai Gurira plays Richard III at Shakespeare in the Park, “The Kite Runner” opens on Broadway, Elevator Repair Service adapts Chekhov for “Seagull,” and more.
By Michael Schulman, originally published on May 6th, 2022.
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At forty-four, the writer and performer Danai Gurira has had an unusually broad career. In 2005, she and Nikkole Salter débuted their two-woman play, “In the Continuum,” about the toll of the aids crisis on Black women in Africa and the U.S., and in 2016 Lupita Nyong’o starred in a Broadway production of Gurira’s play “Eclipsed,” set during the Second Liberian Civil War. Meanwhile, Gurira broke out as an actress in AMC’s zombie-apocalypse series “The Walking Dead” and joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in “Black Panther,” as the Wakandan warrior Okoye. This summer, she adds to her unique résumé a turn as one of Shakespeare’s most malevolent men. At the Public Theatre’s free Shakespeare in the Park, Gurira stars in “Richard III” (starting previews on June 17, at the Delacorte), directed by Robert O’Hara.
Shakespeare in the Park’s sixtieth-anniversary season continues with the return of Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery’s boisterous musical adaptation of “As You Like It” (Aug. 10), part of the community-embracing Public Works initiative. At the Park Avenue Armory, two other classics are revamped. Robert Icke’s modern adaptations of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (June 1) and Aeschylus’ Oresteia (June 9) are performed in repertory by a British ensemble led by Alex Lawther (as Hamlet) and Lia Williams (as Klytemnestra). On Broadway, Giles Croft directs “The Kite Runner” (Hayes, July 6), Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, which follows the lives of two childhood friends across decades of upheaval in Afghanistan.
Off Broadway attractions include “Between the Lines” (Tony Kiser Theatre, June 14), a new musical by Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson, and Timothy Allen McDonald, based on the novel by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha van Leer, about a girl who finds refuge from reality in her favorite book. Will Arbery, who wrote the acclaimed “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” returns with “Corsicana” (Playwrights Horizons, June 2), directed by Sam Gold, in which a woman with Down syndrome and her half brother forge a connection with a local artist after their mother’s death.
Anyone who saw all six hours of “Gatz,” Elevator Repair Service’s mesmerizing take on “The Great Gatsby,” knows that a new E.R.S. spin on a classic text is well worth noting. The troupe premières “Seagull” (N.Y.U.’s Skirball Center, July 7), a meta-theatrical adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” directed by John Collins. Another eye-catching experimental work requires a trip upstate—the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” (in Garrison, N.Y., starting July 8). First put on in 2012, this antic, epic comedy, written by Anne Washburn and the late composer Michael Friedman, imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which an episode of “The Simpsons” sparks an unlikely new oral tradition; Davis McCallum directs. At the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Daniel Fish—the director behind the recent reinvention of “Oklahoma!”—sets his sights on another mid-century musical, Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella.” “Most Happy in Concert” (starting July 13, on the Main Stage) features a female-identifying and nonbinary cast.
Published in the print edition of the May 16, 2022, issue, with the headline “Summer Preview.”