Usually the Public Theater using the summer to focus on the spectacular event that is Shakespeare in the Park every year, but this summer they’ve had their hands full with the park and two musicals down on Astor Place! (Here Lies Love & Venice) What a glorious and busy summer it has been at the Public Theater thus far!  Shakespeare in Park kicked off this Summer with Comedy of Errors while bring forth a world premiere musical, Venice (based on the story of Othello). Today, (June 30th) both shows will have their final curtains. 

comedy-of-errors1

Going to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is always an event & a special way to see theater. The beautiful outdoor theater creates magic! Whether its the moon shining right above the stage that make it look like a perfect prop to the show or the rainy days where the actors perform there hearts out despite the weather.  This Summer has been a rainy one for the run of Comedy of Errors featuring J. Clint Allen, de’Adre Aziza, Becky Ann Baker, Emily Bergl,  Tyler Caffall, Reed Campbell, Keith Eric Chappelle, Robert Creighton, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Reggie Gowland, Jonathan Hadary, Bryan Langlitz,  Brian T. Lawton, Hamish Linklater,  Michael McArthur,  Rachel McMullin, Heidi Schreck, Skipp Sudduth,  Adrienne Weidert, Natalie Woolams-Torres and Jessica Wu.  See highlights from the show below: (courtesy of Playbill)

Comedy of Errors was a hit! There are plenty reviews out there of how great the show is,  but instead of a review of the show, I rather share with you Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Facebook Status from one of the most memorable shows the Public has had!

Last nights performance (6.27) of “The Comedy of Errors” at The Delacort Theater for  Shakespeare in the Park will be an experience I will remember forever. It will go down as one of the most moving nights I have EVER had as an actor. Here is what happened:

About 30 minutes into our 90 minute show it began to rain. Nothing new for an actor doing out door theater. We continued for about 10 more minutes until it began to down pour. Buckets. At that point our stage manager, Cole made an announcement to the audience over the sound system that we would hold until the storm passed.  The audience cheered, encouraging us that they were willing to wait out the rain with us. After all, they waited all day for the free tickets that got them into the theater in the first place! (New York theater goers are beasts. I love them!)

The rain only got worse. I began to realize it would be very unlikely for us to be able to continue. Our dancers would slip, the expensive sound equipment that we were wearing to amplify our voices would be ruined. Still, the audience stayed, only cheering harder when the rain increased. 

Finally, the storm lightened and Cole announced that we would begin again shortly which was met with applause and cheers from the audience AND the cast. 

Then something beyond mother natures control happened: the sound board fried and shut down. Apparently there wasn’t enough time to properly cover all the equipment and now the entire sound system was down. No mics to amplify. No speakers to play music for the dancers. Nothing. Stage Management was about to announce to the audience that we would have to unfortunately call the show. 

The Comedy of Errors Public Theater/Delacorte Theater

Courtesy- Joan Marcus

Then Hamish and I had an idea. 

Did George C. Scott have a body mic when he did “The Merchant of Venice” back in 1961 at this same theater?

(Granted, he didn’t have to worry about helicopters or private jets flying over the Delacort Theater on their way to the Hamptons). 

Lets finish the show wireless. Unplugged! 

To my amazement Rebecca Sherman, our company manager took a deep breath and just said “Do it. It will be amazing.” 

Hamish and I ran out onto the soaking wet stage and announced to the equally wet audience that we would continue! Using Hamish’s mother’s famed  “Linklater Technique” we explained to the audience that they would have to move down as close to the stage as possible to hear. (Only 600 brave people from the originally sold out 1800 seat house had stayed). 

What proceeded was one of the most magical hours of my life. 

The brilliant De’Adre Aziza started where we left off, with her jazz influenced version of “Sigh No More”, the audience snapping along to keep the beat. 

One of the dance fueled transitions started with Bryan Langlitz, our dance captain yelling out : “And a 5,6,7,8” as the dancers leapt and flew across the puddled stage. 

During a moment that required a sound cue of a bell, I pointed at the church that was meant to be producing the sound and exclaimed “BONG! BONG!” 

When Emily Bergl knocked a gun out of Tyler Caffall’s hand the entire company, in unison yelled “BANG” and then produced the dying cat sound that was meant to follow. 

The Comedy of Errors Public Theater/Delacorte Theater

Actress De’Adre Aziza -Courtesy: Joan Marcus

At one point it started raining sheets again… only this time Cole had no way of stoping us.  We just spoke louder to be heard over the rain that was pounding down upon us. 

Hamish called it the greatest game of “Chicken” ever played. The audience wasn’t leaving because we kept going and we continued on only because the 600 strong stayed put. Everyone was soaked but at this point, who cared.  (Apologies to our brilliant costume designer Toni Leslie James who probably cared a little.)

The play finishes with a quiet moment I share with my long lost twin. The audience stayed completely still and silent to hear the final words of the play, laughing where the jokes were but then silencing immeaditly to hear the next lines. That’s when I lost it. You never would have been able to tell because I was soaking wet but I started to ugly cry. 

I was so moved by this shared moment. It truly personified why I am fueled to put on silly costumes  and wigs and pretend to be someone else in front of a collected group of strangers. 

When we finally reached the end of the play the audience exploded into applause. We didn’t bow though….all we could do was applaud right back to THEM.

From this day forward when I am asked why I want to act I will think upon last night. Thank you to the cast of “Comedy of Errors”! Thank you to the crew at the Delacort for being so game. Thank you to the staff at The Public Theater and to the ushers who never flinched. Thank you to the wardrobe and hair department who had to dry all of our clothes and reset our wigs…and again, sorry. Thank you to our Stagemanager Cole and our company manager Rebecca who told us to just go and have fun. Most of all: Thank you to the 600 amazing audience members who cheered us on and stayed. You have no idea what joy you gave ALL of us. 

Also, R.I.P. old soggy sound board. You will be missed.

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