Billy Crudup is set to play Angelo in the Mary Zimmerman staging of “Measure for Measure,” the first production of the 46th summer of Shakespeare in Central Park.
“Measure,” which will run June 5-28, will be followed by the Mike Nichols production of “The Seagull,” with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and an equally impressive supporting cast. The Chekhov play begins performances July 24.
“Measure for Measure,” one of the Bard’s “problem” comedies, also features John Pankow, best known as Ira Buchman on NBC’s “Mad About You,” and Sanaa Lathan, who starred opposite Taye Diggs in “The Best Man” and “The Wood.” Crudup was most recently seen onscreen as the lead rocker in “Almost Famous.”
The Public Theatre, which produces Shakespeare in Central Park, will be enjoying an especially star-driven summer, thanks in part to the impending film actors strike.
At the Public’s downtown theater, Don Cheadle (“Traffic”) and Jeffrey Wright (“Shaft”) will star in Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog”; Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Goodman, Christopher Walken and Allison Janney will join Streep and Kline in the Central Park “Seagull.”
Zimmerman’s last directorial gig at the Public was Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII” in 1997. The writer-director has been much lauded in recent years for her innovative dramatic adaptations of classical narrative texts such as “The Odyssey” and “The Arabian Nights.” Her “Metamorphoses,” based on the work of Ovid, will most likely resurface at Second Stage next season. It has played several regional theaters, having originated at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre in 1998, and is renowned for the use of a large pool as the work’s primary playing space.