A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public Theater)
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A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public Theater)
86

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public Theater) NYC Reviews and Tickets

86%
(231 Reviews)
Positive
97%
Mixed
3%
Negative
0%
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.

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Member Reviews (231)

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96
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 ...

83
Wonderfully entertaining mndream that nails the comedy but misses some of the magic

See it if director brilliantly brings out MND's comedic side by setting up as inspired sitcom, casting musical comedy stars A. Ashford & D. Burstein

Don't see it if missing magic inherent in MND in fairyland, miscasts Nielsen as Puck, misconceives fairies as alta cockers Read more

Critic Reviews (42)

The New York Times
July 31st, 2017

"Ms. deBessonet has brought to the play the high spirits and communitarian pageantry that made her previous park outings...so 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."
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Time Out New York
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
July 31st, 2017

"As directed by Lear deBessonet, this 'Midsummer' is not so much play as pageant, a Technicolor mishmash...There are plays that are pure, delightful fluff. 'Dream' doesn’t have to be one of them. There is a there there. And it’s angrier, dirtier, sexier and therefore much, much funnier than the glitter-bomb that’s currently exploding at the Delacorte...The production is not without fun — it just feels rather desperate to ensure that you are in fact having fun every minute."
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The Hollywood Reporter
July 31st, 2017

"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 line...is 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."
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Variety
August 1st, 2017

“Who’d have thought that the Rude Mechanicals would rescue a floundering production…Whatever overall concept deBessonet had in mind for this production is lost in a muddle of performance styles…The antics of the lovers are all at odds...While the acting tends to sitcom style, none of it comes from the same sitcom…Unlike those self-conscious young lovers, the Rude Mechanicals never play to the audience or force a laugh."
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New York Daily News
July 31st, 2017

"A high-spirited hodgepodge that glides along with just a few hiccups and so-so performances. At 2 3/4 hours, the show comes close to overstaying its welcome. But sustained laughter and amusement compensate...Ashford oozes hilarity from start to finish as the besotted Helena...Two more standouts are Danny Burstein, who serves up thick slices of ham as Nick Bottom...And Jeff Hiller, an ace comic actor makes a big impression in the small role of the artisan-actor Flute."
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AM New York
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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NY1
August 1st, 2017

“‘Midsummer’ most certainly entertains in exuberant fashion; and if not a perfect production, its spell of enchantment makes for a near perfect midsummer night...Director Lear deBessonet assembled a dream team of talents to strut their stuff...The performances are sublime…If it all seems a hodgepodge, it is but a delightful one that holds pleasant surprises…If there were occasional misses, it mostly hit the bull's-eye aiming for both heart and funny bone."
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Theatermania
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
August 1st, 2017

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
August 5th, 2017

“Unseen for a decade at The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park, the new production of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream,’ directed by Lear deBessonet, is lavish to the eye and ear. What it is not is funny, being very low on the laugh quotient. While the actors, including such Tony Award winners as Phylicia Rashad and Annaleigh Ashford and nominees De'Adre Aziza, Danny Burstein, Shalita Grant and Kristine Nielsen try very hard to tickle the funny bone, the results are in vain.”
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Theater Pizzazz
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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CurtainUp
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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Front Row Center
August 1st, 2017

“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.”
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Stage Buddy
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
July 31st, 2017

"As directed by Lear deBessonet, the production showcases a proclivity for slapstick humor, which mostly works in a funny charming manner. It has an identity problem, though, that doesn’t quite know what kind of show this lot is putting on...Lots of choices of casting and style are questionable, although brave for the most part, with some of the ideas working. And others don’t quite hit the sweet spot."
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New York Theater
July 31st, 2017

"Burstein...more or less upstages everybody else...Ashford’s performance as Helena upstages the rest of the quartet of lovers...Maybe it would be more polite, perhaps even more accurate, to say these performers stand out, rather than that they upstage...All this talk of upstaging may give the wrong impression. 'Midsummer' in Central Park offers the kind of fun and free summer evening’s entertainment that the Public has been providing at the Delacorte for 56 summers."
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Broadway Blog
July 31st, 2017

“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.”
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C
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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Newsday
July 31st, 2017

"This resolutely upbeat Shakespeare in the Park production is so broad, you could drive an 18-wheeler through it...The performances are as bright and over-the-top as Clint Ramos’ costumes...After a while, Ashford’s efforts only bring diminishing returns...Nielsen looks uncomfortable with the language and over-relies on her usual bag of tricks...As diverse as this 'Midsummer' looks and sounds, it is uniform in tone, reducing the play to a one-note romp."
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Times Square Chronicles
August 1st, 2017

"Look for the delightfully adorable Ashford and Burstein to steal every scene and your hearts...For me, this production seemed a little unmagical and disjointed...The costumes look like they were badly sewn, with no color sense or time reference...Davies-Lashley provides lovely vocals, but they come out of nowhere...Also dances happen for no rhyme or reason. Just to watch Ashford and Burstein strut their stuff, it’s worth seeing this production."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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What Should We Do?
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
August 1st, 2017

“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.”
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W
August 4th, 2017

"Any director must helm all this with a clear point of view, however, or chaos ensues. Unfortunately, deBessonet apparently has none. The four factions bump against each other without cohesion...There are two unfathomable casting errors. The first is Nielsen as a leaden Robin Goodfellow...The second, nightshirt-wearing fairies ranging from 65-85 years old...Ashford is hit or miss as Helena...The usually fine Danny Burstein doesn’t seem to be having enough fun with the role."
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T
August 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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T
July 31st, 2017

"'Dream' comes streaked with whimsy—and a scene- and production-stealing performance by Annaleigh Ashford...The other three in this confused lovers’ nest...are solidly devoted to their roles, but no match for Ashford as she dictates the pace, laughs, and meaning of every scene she appears in...The evening is like a sweet-intentioned, indulgent fever dream. If 'Midsummer' is a play full of japes, it also feels like a jape itself. It dissolves, like its characters, into the night."
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The Huffington Post
August 6th, 2017

"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."
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Financial Times (UK)
August 1st, 2017

“Ashford brings goofy charm and a natural flair for physical comedy…Rashad offers a more languorous, though no less assured, portrayal of Titania…Burstein invests his role with unflagging pantomime energy. The rest of ‘the Mechanicals’ form a solid comic unit…Other performers often seem to be going through the motions…The songs seem gratuitous…DeBessonet nonetheless succeeds throughout in marshaling her sizable ensemble and creating an infectious air of merriment."
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WNBC
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
August 10th, 2017

"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?"
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NJ.com
August 3rd, 2017

"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."
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W
August 5th, 2017

"DeBessonet pushes the whimsical slapstick of the story, drawing on a flight of gifted comic actors...All of this sweet joy is both the production's greatest asset and largest drawback. On the plus side: this is fun fluff, with nothing to distract from the silliness. On the minus side: this is fun fluff, with none of the melancholy undertones about intimate betrayals that give some productions of 'Midsummer' surprising heft. No matter. This sort of pure pleasure is all too rare."
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The Wrap
July 31st, 2017

"Lear deBessonet delivers an uneven, down-the-middle version of one of Shakespeare’s most familiar comedies that emphasizes the broad, sitcommy action among the various sets of mismatched lovers. Hers is a 'Midsummer' by way of TVLand, complete with bouncy musical 'bumpers' between the scenes...Subtlety is not the predominant theme of this 'Midsummer,' which seems bent on trotting out just about every Borscht belt cliche to poke us in the ribs."
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Reflections in the Light
August 6th, 2017

"This version...offers a couple of pleasant treats: Ashford as Helena and Nielsen as Puck. These are two of the theater's finest comedic actresses and they don't disappoint here. Also turning in notable performances, in a very strong ensemble cast, are Burstein as Bottom, Poe as Oberon and Rashad as Titania...I didn't care for the heavy, jazzy original music...It doesn't blend with the light feel of the show...The costumes also stand out for not fitting with the whimsical, airy atmosphere."
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Z
August 1st, 2017

“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.”
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Film Festival Traveler
August 7th, 2017

"Director deBessonet has flattened everything out so that, though it all flows nicely on the surface, the play’s disturbing undercurrents are left, well, undisturbed...Ashford has a unique way of speaking her lines that seems to work for anything...The only other cast member on Ashford’s level is Burstein...He's funny and poignant and realistic and fantastical simultaneously, which is what deBessonet’s 'Dream,' despite some splendid moments, ultimately isn’t."
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Scene on Stage
August 6th, 2017

"How refreshing, now, to see the romantic, magical work played where it is largely set, in an open-air nocturnal park...The comedy, as funny here as you’ll ever see it, is a perfect fit for The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in Central Park...The entire cast in director Lear deBessonet’s delightfully free-wheeling production is terrific, including the hilarious ‘Pyramus & Thisbe’ ensemble, but first-among-equals has to be snazzy Annaleigh Ashford."
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Edge New York
July 31st, 2017

“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.”
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F
July 31st, 2017

"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."
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Broadway Showbiz
August 3rd, 2017

“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.”
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