New York | 2h 30m | Already closed

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public Theater)

From 42 critic and 231 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Funny

About the show

The Delacorte transforms into an enchanted forest for the Bard's rom-com starring Tony winners Phylicia Rashad and Annaleigh Ashford, and nominee Danny Burstein. Part of the Public's free Shakespeare in the Park season. More…

When the merry sprite Puck (Tony nominee Kristine Nielsen) meddles with a magical love potion, young lovers lost in the woods mysteriously find themselves infatuated with the wrong person in this hilarious, fairy-tale fantasia. Lear deBessonet brings her electric theatrical vision to the classic romance about the supernatural nature of love.

2h 30m | Already closed | The Delacorte Theatre (Upper W Side)


"The most fascinating, heartfelt, thoroughly entertaining attraction playing in New York this summer...The Public Theater and director deBessonet emphasize magic and mirth in this vibrant production...Adding to the enjoyment of an already great play are uniformly excellent performances from the cast...The physical comedy is cranked up to a ten...Two-and-a-half hours melt away like a particularly pleasant dream, one from which you feel slightly sad to wake." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“A magical presentation of the Bard’s most unique and ethereal comedy. Innovative director Lear deBessonet has added some unusual tweaks to the fanciful journey into the forest, creating an even more wondrous and special atmosphere…One outstanding and often magical performance after another, so much so that the play merits multiple viewings...'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is a perfectly executed, ethereal escape from the all the world’s troubles.” Full Review


"A ravishingly beautiful, joyously performed take on Shakespeare's fairy-dusted tale of crisscrossed lovers. Directed by Lear deBessonet, this is a very traditional and straightforward 'Midsummer' with lovely modern touches...The clarity of the performances and direction mean that this would also be a terrific introduction to Shakespeare for younger viewers...This production is two-and-three-quarter hours of dreamy bliss." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Captures all the magic of Shakespeare's beloved comedy...I'd be remiss if I didn't give credit for the vibrancy of this production to a cast of spirited actors...What's most delightful about this production: it perfectly captures the magic and wonder of Shakespeare's fantastic fairy tale without following religiously the tropes of previous productions of the play. The result is that this performance comes off as both highly original and true in the most important ways to Shakespeare's script." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"The best, the most exhilarating free Shakespeare from the Public in a long time...It’s a troupe of equals, although there may be a first among them: Annaleigh Ashford, as the frantically lovelorn Helena...Perhaps second among equals is Danny Burstein...DeBessonet’s numerous jolly good notions are too many to list in their entirety, and why give them all away? But one of the best is casting senior-citizen thespians as Titania’s ubiquitous fairies and setting them free to cavort." Full Review

What Should We Do?

“A jazzy, sweet, altogether delightful staging of William Shakespeare’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream.' With storybook visuals, smart directorial touches, and a frisky, diverse ensemble, this ‘Dream’ is the sort of wonder-struck, bighearted spectacle Shakespeare in the Park was created for...DeBessonet has a terrific group of actors at her disposal…DeBessonet does a marvelous job conjuring and maintaining a sense of wonder and enchantment.” Full Review


"Often hilarious, ultimately touching, and consistently magical production of this beloved work...Like with many Shakespeare in the Park productions, there’s a certain amount of multi-cultural, gender-bending casting, but it rarely distracts here...While there’s not a weak performer in this large ensemble—including the inimitable Kristine Nielsen as a rather unusual Puck—perhaps the real star of the production is costume designer Clint Ramos...A 'Dream' you’ll never want to awaken from." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Under Lear deBessonet’s superb direction, the mood is kept light and hilarity reigns. Modern expressions and deliveries heighten the entertainment, as does the physical comedy, especially from Ashford...The cast is uniformly excellent; Jeff Hiller mines the comic elements of Thisbe to great effect...The Public’s 'Midsummer' is crackling with humor. Credit first-rate acting and electric staging for a glorious night under the stars." Full Review


“Filled with charm and hilarity, beautiful music and magic. It’s so much fun that it’s hard to say what the best part is...Ashford can get more laughs with a crook of her little finger than most actors can manage with their entire bodies…It is to deBessonet’s credit that we are never confused by all the lovers and their shifting passions...When the lights twinkle and the music plays and these sublimely talented performers speak and search and love, we are as enchanted as poor Nick Bottom.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“This production hit the target and far exceeded my expectations. This show pulls us out of our respective realities for a few hours and sends us away a bit lighter because we have laughed so freely – perhaps for the first time in a long while...This is what is so pleasing about this production: Every single person seems to be having a really good time. We can’t help but feel that tingle in the fronts of our faces as these actors drink each other in and we follow them on a trippy ride.” Full Review


"The magical combination of one of Shakespeare's best plays, an inventive staging by director deBessonet, and a charming ensemble cast transports us...A smart approach, accentuating the surreal elements and heightening its humor. If 'Caesar' showed the timeliness of Shakespeare's work, this production powerfully demonstrates its timelessness...A true ensemble effort...It's a perfect way to experience this delightful, diverting production of one of Shakespeare's most treasured works." Full Review

Edge New York

“Ashford truly brings the words of the Bard alive in her mastery of the language. The play within the play is always the thing in ‘Midsummer,’ and this show does not disappoint. The Mechanicals put on a stellar production of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe,’ with a bearded Danny Burstein stealing the show as a spotlight-hungry Nick Bottom…This production goes above and beyond other freebies. In fact, it's priceless.” Full Review

Broadway Showbiz

“The perfect casting makes for a hilarious and different production. I was howling at the comedic timing of Ashford, Burstein, Nielsen, and Hiller. I was having such a good time, I didn’t want the great evening to end. If you want a fresh and modern look at this brilliant play, go. Get a ticket. I am still giddy thinking about it. The casting is pure perfection and kudos to Chase Brock for the fabulous dance throughout the play.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Huggable and kind-natured...Annaleigh Ashford, as Helena, offers a divinely funny portrait of romantic desperation—she works offbeat wonders on every line—and Shalita Grant’s Hermia slides memorably from pertness to fury...Clint Ramos’s fanciful costumes and Justin Levine’s brassy-funky ’70s-flavored score add to the swirl of pleasure. DeBessonet's production welcomes the spirits of community theater and theater community. You leave with a lovestruck smile." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A joyful, crowd-pleasing Mardi Gras of a production...Even if some of the slapstick and mugging can seem a bit much at times, only a genuine curmudgeon or Shakespeare absolutist is likely to be able to resist the spell of this most gleeful of productions...All told, it's hard to imagine a more pleasing antidote to political malaise than this stellar production by the Public, a real treasure of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in an ideal setting." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“Perfectly enjoyable…The staging and acting are broad, which works fine for the comedy that lends itself to such a romp, especially in an outdoor setting…Ashford gives a striking performance, cutting up in broad fashion in showing off her unique talent. She is often hilarious. Another standout is the ever-reliable Burstein as weaver Nick Bottom…Whether playing parts large or small in the huge ensemble, the collection of cast members makes for a vital company that delivers convincingly.” Full Review

Theater Life

“An unexpectedly fresh production…In addition to this novel interpretation, deBessonet provides dazzlingly funny direction as the multiple plots play out on David Rockwell’s revolving pastoral set, perfectly suited to the park’s natural milieu. Add some spicy battle-of-the-sexes chemistry between Bhavesh Patel’s pompous Theseus and De’Adre Aziza’s sexy Hippolyta and you have the perfect 'Dream' for a midsummer night.” Full Review

Frequent Business Traveler

"This particular production continues on its very own trajectory making excellent use of the various talents that the superb cast brings to the Delacorte’s stage...Much of the success is due to the music, with some incredible vocals by Marcelle Davies-Lashley...The result is an interesting and hilarious yet thoughtful production that is likely to beguile and enchant the theatergoer." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"DeBessonet has all sorts of interesting ideas...I'd be lying if I said that all of this comes together in some intellectually coherent way--the production often feels blown this way, then that, willing to pursue all sorts of notions without a clear sense of how to put them together. And yet, what shouldn't work somehow does: this is a 'Midsummer' that, for all its laughter, is oddly, persuasively, wistful...I'm willing to bet that you'll feel thoroughly satisfied." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“While Lear deBessonet's colorful version may not fully capture the play's romantic lyricism or its magical allure, it largely makes up for those drawbacks in its infectious exuberance and joie de vivre…deBessonet stresses the play's comedic values over its poetic ones, but the payoff is inconsistent…too much of the humor is forced rather than organic…Clint Ramos's costumes run the gamut from the ordinary to the extraordinary…deBessonet elicits a clear story line and well-spoken language.” Full Review

The New York Times

"Ms. deBessonet has brought to the play the high spirits and communitarian pageantry that made her previous park embraceable....Unusually well cast, her production is full of sharply etched if sometimes unsubtle comic performances...What the production lacks in depth and subtlety it makes up for in clarity and swiftness...For all that, I missed the moments when, in some productions, Helena’s desperation lands a punch in the gut." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A delightfully frothy theatrical palate cleanser...Delivers loads of antic fun, even if there are times when the kitchen-sink approach borders on overkill...Shakespeare's convoluted story rendered here with uncommon clarity. But while the performers prove highly adept with the poetical language, the action is as much physical as verbal...While not all of the performances are effective, the standouts in the ensemble provide ample compensation." Full Review

AM New York

"A bright and jubilant staging of the perennial romantic comedy...Except for a few distinct touches—older actors playing the fairies, a tree house containing a live band and ad-libs directed to the audience, to name a few—deBessonet’s production is relatively straightforward...This shifts the focus to the terrific performances of Phylicia Rashad, Danny Burstein, Kristine Nielsen, Shalita Grant and Annaleigh Ashford." Full Review


"This 'Dream' is just classic Delacorte eye candy. DeBessonet has assembled an enviable cast for a lush production of the multi-pronged Shakespeare comedy set in an enchanted forest...Nielsen’s fans will delight in her comically twitchy presence...The final wedding scene is a rousing affair with the Mechanicals performing to the Duke’s delight, and a string of festive bulbs raised behind the stage." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"A splendidly opulent production, and the Central Park background on a summer’s eve is a very real contributor to the pleasures of the evening...A large cast which includes a half dozen Broadway favorites is having a grand time cavorting across its vast stage...Ashford brings her own very special charms to the role of Helena...Danny Burstein is on target as Bottom the Weaver...With everyone having such a fine summer evening out, who could resist that?" Full Review

Absorbing, Enchanting, Funny, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you like to see a new take on a classic Shakespeare play. You love a strong cast. You love a good laugh. You love open air theatres.

Don't see it if You dislike free Shakespeare You dislike Shakespeare You dislike bugs (outdoors by the turtle pond) You dislike open air theatre.

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You want to be whisked away becoming intrigued with the goings on of a fairy land full of wonder, hope, love, and trust.

Don't see it if Fairies on stage are not your thing and you'd rather see a political drama instead.

Also One of Shakespeare's most riveting plays shines eloquently under all t... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if By far the best performance I've seen at The Delacorte. So fun and hilarious!

Don't see it if You hate Shakespeare.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You enjoy classical theatre with a modern twist, and fabulous actors.

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare...

Delightful, Enchanting, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You want an enchanting evening of Shakespeare in the park, beautifully done.

Don't see it if you just really don't like Shakespeare

Delightful, Funny, Hilarious

See it if You love great comedic acting! You want to give Shakespeare a try for the first time! Annaleigh Ashford is delightful!

Don't see it if You don't like to laugh or want something more serious!

Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if you want a fun night in central park, and a true New York experience! Annaleigh Ashford is HILARIOUS!!

Don't see it if you have difficulty following Shakespearean stories.

Delightful, Enchanting, Great staging, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if You want to experience pure joy

Don't see it if No reason

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if Like your Shakespeare on script yet innovative with great singing and dance

Don't see it if Puck has to be an impish boy

Also You've seen this play so many times yet this production is a must see.


See it if you love magic.

Don't see it if must see! love with magic.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You want a funny night out with a fab cast.

Don't see it if You don't have a love for modern updates of the bard.

Also I was gasping for air from the very funny Ashford who takes it up a no... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Great music, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if you like great music, casually diverse casting, and many moments of superb physical acting, both subtle and quite obvious

Don't see it if you like to see this show staged as an orgy (there are a few sexy jokes, but it's very light overall)

Also This show is funny, light-hearted, and wonderful! Many excellent actor... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy large inclusive productions that make you feel good while giving a strong message

Don't see it if You hate musical theater

Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting, Delightful

See it if You want to see the best of The Bard, put on by the best of NY Theater, performed by outstanding actors, in beautiful Central Park.

Don't see it if You think you don't like Shakespeare, but that's only because you haven't seen it performed live, and well! go see any Shakespeare you can!

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Hilarious, Must see

See it if You like Shakespeare done in a more contemporary fashion with double entendres and staging that are current with today.

Don't see it if You have a problem with a different take on the Bard's intent.

Absorbing, Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You have or have not seen Shakespeare in the Park. Go!

Don't see it if There's no reason not to see this. Well, it's over now, but go see Shakespeare in the Park next year, no matter what

Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Hilarious, Masterful

See it if Simply Joyous; Superb cast of veterans and newcomers

Don't see it if already closed - hopefully the Public has a videotape that can be viewed

Great acting, Great staging, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if An amazing experience with a stellar cast, wonderful staging, rich costumes and sets. I loved everything about it. It was cool out as well!

Don't see it if You don't like the bard ...

Enchanting, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a little magic in Central Park; you want to laugh at an amazing cast lead by all-stars Annaleigh Ashford and Danny Burstein

Don't see it if you don't enjoy any cuts in your Shakespeare; you are only a fan of the tragedies

Delightful, Enchanting, Masterful

See it if You want to see a perfect production of Midsummer. The cast is amazing, the design is beautiful-it is wonderful in all the right places!

Don't see it if Honestly, don't know why you wouldn't see this is EVERYTHING!!

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Hilarious, Romantic

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and comedy. This is a wonderful production of one of Shakespeare's funniest and romantic shows - all happy endings!

Don't see it if you don't enjoy Shakespeare or hate physical comedy. Also, some of the comedy may be a bit inappropriate for kids (but may go over heads).

Clever, Hilarious, Refreshing, Must see, Delightful

See it if you love exquisite costume design or haven't had a good laugh in a while. See it even if you're not a "Shakespeare person!"

Don't see it if You prefer costumes more traditional of the time the play was written.

Funny, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Delightful

See it if You like Shakespearean comedy with a clever interpretation.

Don't see it if You don't like being outdoors watching a show.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Delightful

See it if ANNALEIGH ASHFORD IS A STAR. The actors are so superb they relay the plot through their tone and mannerisms. Do not fear Shakespeare

Don't see it if just do yourself a favor and see it, its FREE

Hilarious, Enchanting, Entertaining, Clever, Must see

See it if You want a great laugh and an amazing show.

Don't see it if You find Shakespeare hard to follow (although this is easily understandable).

Cast & Creatives (35)