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Merry Wives - Free Shakespeare in the Park


The Delacorte Theater
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES ADDED! July 6 - September 18, 2021

By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Saheem Ali

Featuring Abena, Shola Adewusi, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Pascale Armand, MaYaa Boateng, Phillip James Brannon, Brandon E. Burton, Joshua Echebiri, Branden Lindsay, Ebony Marshall-Oliver, Jarvis D. MatthewsJacob Ming-Trent, Jennifer Mogbock, Julian Rozzell Jr., Kyle Scatliffe, David Ryan Smith, and Susan Kelechi Watson

We’re thrilled to return to Central Park this summer for Free Shakespeare in the Park beginning July 6 through September 18, with MERRY WIVES, a fresh and joyous adaptation by Jocelyn Bioh of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by our Associate Artistic Director and Resident Director Saheem Ali.

Set in South Harlem, amidst a vibrant and eclectic community of West African immigrants, MERRY WIVES is a New York story about tricks of the heart, performed in the heart of the City—Central Park’s magical Delacorte Theater. A raucous spinoff featuring the Bard’s most beloved comic characters, this hilarious farce tells the story of the trickster Falstaff and the wily wives who outwit him in a new celebration of Black joy, laughter, and vitality.  


We are proud to honor and celebrate the humans of New York's incredible borough communities as we finally return and gather together once again. As we begin performances and throughout the season, join us in thanking our essential workers and all of the incredible people that make New York City the best city in the world. You fill The Delacorte with joy and give it life.

  • Celebrating Essential Workers: July 6 – July 10
  • The borough of Manhattan: July 12 – July 17
  • The borough of Brooklyn: July 19 – July 24
  • The borough of the Bronx: July 26 – July 31
  • The borough of Queens: Aug 2 – Aug 7
  • The neighborhood of Harlem: Aug 9 – Aug 14 
  • The borough of Staten Island: Aug 16 – Aug 21

And more to come...

The Delacorte Theater
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES ADDED! July 6 - September 18, 2021


Run Time: 110 minutes, no intermission.

Health and Safety Information

At the heart of The Public’s return to The Delacorte this summer, is our commitment to health and safety protocols that ensure Free Shakespeare in the Park is a safe and celebratory experience for you, the artists, and our staff.

The Delacorte Theater’s seating capacity will be at 80% with both Full Capacity and Physically Distanced sections. 

Full Capacity sections are reserved for those who are 12 years or older who have COVID-19 vaccinated, and you must show proof of full vaccination before entering the theater. Children 11 years or younger may accompany their vaccinated parent or guardian. We encourage you to use Health Pass by CLEAR to streamline your entry into the venue. Learn more about other options for proof of vaccination

Physically Distanced sections are reserved for those who are not COVID-19 vaccinated, and you do not need to show any proof of a negative test for entry.

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask for entry into the theater and when moving around. Those in Full Capacity sections have the option to remove their mask when sitting in their ticketed seat. Those in Physically Distanced sections must always keep a face mask on.

Further details and specifics at our SAFE IN THE PARK page, which is subject to change at any time.




Ticket Info

American Express Partnership 

In partnership with American Express, we will be hosting an exclusive Card Member Performance on Friday, September 17 at 8:00PM ET. This performance will include a post-show discussion with a Public Theater staff member or artists from the production. Access this performance with a $300 donation to The Public using your American Express® Card.

Free Tickets

Due to current Health and Safety protocols, there will not be any day-of-performance, free ticket distribution lines in Central Park, in the boroughs, or at The Public's flagship on Lafayette Street.

Instead, this summer, free tickets will be distributed entirely via an advanced digital lottery hosted by our new partner, GOLDSTAR.

Enter the lottery through the Goldstar app on AppleAndroid, and the website each Tuesday and Friday, one week prior to the next week’s scheduled performances.

Goldstar will begin accepting entries on Tuesday, June 29 (12AM ET to 12PM ET) for the Tuesday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 7 performances, and then again on Friday July 2 (12AM ET to 12PM ET) for performances July 8 through July 10, and continue each Tuesday for Monday-Wednesday performances and Friday for Thursday-Saturday performances thereafter.

Learn more and view the Enter to Win entry calendar.

Day-Of-Performance Standby Tickets

On the day of each scheduled performance, a limited number of free tickets may become available beginning at 12PM (noon) until the start of the performance at 8PM. This summer, we are piloting an option to request Standby tickets via Text messaging, in order to minimize waiting in line in Central Park.

Learn more and join in.

Reserved Tickets

We offer a very limited number of reserved seats to our Partners, Young Partners and Supporter Plus donors who support making Shakespeare in the Park available and free for thousands of people each summer through their generous donations. Learn more or donate today to reserve your seats.

ADA Accessible Tickets

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The following ADA Accessible performances will be available with our partner organizations (TDF and Hands On).

  • August 24, 2021 Open Caption with TDF TAP
  • August 25, 2021 Audio Description with TDF TAP
  • August 27, 2021 American Sign Language Interpretation with Hands On
  • September 9, 2021 American Sign Language Interpretation with Hands On

Access to these performances will also be available through our GOLDSTAR ADA Accessible Digital Distribution. Sign up for the ADA Accessible Digital Line on Goldstar.

Additionally, Closed Captions, Spanish Subtitles, and Audio Descriptions will become available on our around Aug 2, through our partner GalaPro. Learn more about GalaPro or download its Apple app or Android app.

For additional information about accessibility for Free Shakespeare in the Park or if you have questions, need assistance, or accommodation, please contact us at [email protected].


Image of Abena


ABENA (Anne Page). From NJ, Abena is an actor/vocalist of dual Ghanaian and African-American descent. She originated and reprised the role of Nana in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (MCC Theater, Center Theatre Group; Drama Desk Special Award). Vocalist of the Royalton Resorts theme song, “Royalton Life.” AMDA graduate. Abena is also a former Disney Cruise mainstage vocalist. Additional NYC credits: Goddess (MCC SongLab/NYSAF), Appointment With God (The Playwrights Realm), Ragtime (Ellis Island), How the Light Gets In - Water is Life (NYMF). TV: “Orange is the New Black,” “Daredevil,” “The Other Two,” "Celebs Have Issues," and “FBI.” Instagram: @abenadryl

Image of Shola Adewusi

Shola Adewusi

SHOLA ADEWUSI (Mama Quickly) is a British actress/singer/writer who currently stars on the CBS series “Bob Hearts Abishola.” Her credits include Netflix's “Turn Up Charlie” starring Idris Elba, “Chewing Gum” starring Michaela Coel, and “The Worst Witch”; BBC’s “The Kennedys;” amongst many others. Her feature film credits include Quartet, Paddington 2, and The Riot Club. Adewusi is also a contemporary and traditional jazz singer and songwriter and performs under the pseudonym Misty Lee-Brown. Adewusi was born in London and grew up in Little Waltham, Essex, London, and Nigeria. She divides her time between Los Angeles and London.

Image of Gbenga Akinnagbe

Gbenga Akinnagbe

GBENGA AKINNAGBE (Mister Nduka Ford) starred as Tom Robinson in the original cast of To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway. Additional theater credits include Fulfillment and Lower Ninth (The Flea), The Thin Place (Intiman), and A View from 151st Street (The Public). TV: “The Old Man” (upcoming), “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” “The Deuce,” “The Following,” “24,” “The Good Wife,” “Damages,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “The Wire.” Film: The Sun Is Also a Star, All the Devil’s Men, Crown Heights, Detroit, Independence Day 2, Edge of Darkness, and The Taking of Pelham 123. Akinnagbe is the founder of Liberated People, a social justice lifestyle brand, and he recently sold his original pilot “Lewisburg” to NBC.

Image of Pascale Armand

Pascale Armand

PASCALE ARMAND (Madam Ekua Page). Broadway: Eclipsed by Danai Gurira (2016 Tony nominee, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play) and The Trip to Bountiful with the late great Cicely Tyson. Film/TV: “Prodigal Son,” “The Blacklist,” “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Core member of Quick Silver Theater Company (QSTC). NYU Graduate Acting Program alumna. As of 2018, Armand expanded her artistry into writing. During the pandemic, her passion project—developing her one-woman show, $#!thole Country Clapback—resulted in a virtual reading available on YouTube. www.pascalearmand.com.

Image of MaYaa Boateng

MaYaa Boateng

MAYAA BOATENG (Fenton/Simple) is a proud daughter of West African immigrants. She returns to Shakespeare in the Park after being featured in The Public’s Julius Caesar, directed by Oskar Eustis. Boateng was last seen starring in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fairview (Theatre for a New Audience). Other notable theatre credits include Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, or The Reeducation of Undine (Signature Theatre); Fairview (Soho Rep); Good Men Wanted (New York Stage & Film). On screen credits include “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), “City on a Hill” (Showtime), and the culminating episode of Season 4 of “High Maintenance” (HBO). Education: NYU Graduate Acting, MFA.

Image of Phillip James Brannon

Phillip James Brannon

PHILLIP JAMES BRANNON (Pastor Evans). The Public: Shipwreck, Tiny Beautiful Things, ToasT. Broadway: JUNK (Lincoln Center). Off-Broadway: Toni Stone (Roundabout); Log Cabin, BootyCandy (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award); The Antipodes (Signature Theatre); The City of Conversation (Lincoln Center); Nat Turner in Jerusalem, Love and Information, Belleville (NYTW); We Are Proud… (Soho Rep). Regional: Williamstown, Steppenwolf, Huntington, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, Kansas City Rep, Woolly Mammoth, The Wilma, Court Theatre. TV/Film: Roscoe on “Servant,” “The Sinner,” “The Blacklist,” “The Good Fight,” “Elementary,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Law & Order: SVU,” Contagion. Training: DePaul University.

Image of Brandon E. Burton

Brandon E. Burton

BRANDON E. BURTON (Ensemble) is a St.Louis, MO, native and a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, where he won the prestigious Herschel Williams Prize awarded to the top actor of the class. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival: Macbeth, Richard II, Antony and Cleopatra. Yale Theater: Othello (Othello); Henry VI, Part 3 (York, George, Bona); Marty and the Hands That Could (Mike Money). Yale Rep: A Raisin in the Sun (Bobo).

Image of Joshua Echebiri

Joshua Echebiri

JOSHUA ECHEBIRI (Slender/Pistol). Pittsburgh Public Theatre: Romeo N Juliet (virtual); Williamstown Theatre Festival: A Raisin in the Sun, Something Happens for Joe, Soft. TV: He will next be seen recurring on season 5 of “The Good Fight” on Paramount+. BA: Dartmouth College. MFA: NYU Graduate Acting. @joshuaechebiri. www.joshuaechebiri.com.

Image of Branden Lindsay

Branden Lindsay

BRANDEN LINDSAY (Ensemble) is a southern gentleman born and raised in Greenville, SC. He received his BA from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS, and recently completed his MFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Lindsay has worked with some incredible directors such as Brandon Dirden, Tazewell Thompson, and Stevie Walker-Webb. He was also a part of the Nate Parker Film Institute where their film Baggage was screened at The Pan African Film Festival. Lindsay is looking forward to celebrating Black joy and being a part of a historical return to the Park.

Image of Ebony Marshall-Oliver

Ebony Marshall-Oliver

EBONY MARSHALL-OLIVER (Ensemble). The Public: Ain't No Mo’; Off-Broadway: Seussical (Sour Kangaroo, TheatreWorksUSA: director Marcia Milgrom Dodge). Regional: Chicken & Biscuits (Beverly Jenkins, Queens Theatre: director Zhailon Levingston); Sister Act (Delores, EverBlue Arts: director Joseph Spieldener); Dreamgirls (Ensemble, Dallas Theater Center: director Joel Ferrell); Memphis (Felicia, Theatre 3 Dallas: director Bruce Coleman); Raisin (Lena Younger, Astoria PAC: director Dev Bondarin); The Color Purple (Celie: director Akin Babatunde); In Real Life, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Neat, Pretty Fire (Jubilee Theatre). Film: Sunday Brunch (Evie Paige, director Joseph Craig), One Week In Heaven (Deb, director Joseph Craig), A Tangled Web (Georgie Kane, director Joseph Craig).

Image of Jarvis D. Matthews

Jarvis D. Matthews

JARVIS D. MATTHEWS (Ensemble). Regional: Soft, Tempo (Williamstown); uber everywhere (National Black Theatre); Fences (Jamaica PAC); The Flying Dutchman (McCarter). Film: A Cakewalk (GARAGE Magazine & GUCCI), Gabriela, En Route.

Image of Jacob Ming-Trent

Jacob Ming-Trent

JACOB MING-TRENT (Falstaff). Most recently seen in The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix) and R#J (Sundance). TV: starred in the series “White Famous” (Showtime), played Panda in “Watchmen” (HBO), “Ray Donovan” season six (Showtime), “Feed the Beast” (AMC), etc. Film: Starred in the reboot of SuperFly (Sony), The Possession of Hanna Grace (Screen Gems), etc. Upcoming: “Only Murders in the Building” opposite Steve Martin and Martin Short (Hulu) and “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” (Hulu). Broadway: Hands on a Hardbody and Shrek The Musical. Several Off-Broadway productions, including Father Comes Home From the Wars..., for which he earned a Lortel Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Image of Jennifer Mogbock

Jennifer Mogbock

JENNIFER MOGBOCK (Ensemble). Regional: As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Love’s Labour’s Lost, Antony And Cleopatra, Hamlet (Stratford Festival). Recent film credits include Sultana’s Dream (Magic Spell Studios), Stratford HD (Melbar Entertainment Group). TV: “Designated Survivor” (ABC), “Conviction” (ABC). MFA: NYU Graduate Acting. www.jennifermogbock.com.

Image of Julian Rozzell Jr.

Julian Rozzell Jr.

JULIAN ROZZELL, JR. (Shallow). Theater includes: Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Father Comes Home from the Wars… (The Public/Mark Taper Forum); The Piano Lesson (Arden Theater); The Total Bent (The Public); Death of the Last Black Man…, Venus (Signature Theater); Measure for Measure (Hipgnosis Theater). Television includes: “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” “The Blacklist,” “Law & Order,” “Broad City,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “High Maintenance,” “Bull,” “Person of Interest.” Film includes: Otherhood, The Breaks, The Price of Silence, Peter Grass is Dead, and as Samson Finch in Red Dead Redemption II. Rozzell has performed voice-overs and commercials, notably in the “Rhythm is a Dancer” TD Bank commercial.

Image of Kyle Scatliffe

Kyle Scatliffe

KYLE SCATLIFFE (Mister Kwame Page) is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Broadway: The Color Purple, Les Misérables, Hamilton, To Kill a Mockingbird. West End: The Scottsboro Boys (Olivier Award nomination). Tour: Hamilton. Off-Broadway: As You Like It, Big River (City Center Encores!). Regional: Ragtime (ZACH Theatre), Oklahoma! (5th Avenue Theatre). Television credits include “Bull,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “A Christmas Carol: The Concert” with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Image of David Ryan Smith

David Ryan Smith

DAVID RYAN SMITH (Doctor Caius). Broadway: One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange. Off-Broadway: Where We Stand (Women's Project); Passage (Soho Rep); The Death of the Last Black Man... (Signature); Mankind (Playwrights Horizons); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles (Public Theater); Gone Missing (Encores); The Glory of the World (BAM); Marat/Sade (Classical Theater of Harlem). Regional: Repertory Theater of Saint Louis, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Barrington Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Dallas Theater Center, California Shakespeare Theater, among others. Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Medal of Victory, Bee Season.

Image of Susan Kelechi Watson

Susan Kelechi Watson

SUSAN KELECHI WATSON (Madam Nkechi Ford). The Public: Marley, The Story. Broadway: A Naked Girl on the Appian Way. Off-Broadway: Core Values. Regional: Twelfth Night, A Raisin in the Sun. Watson currently stars as Beth Pearson on the SAG and AFI Award-winning NBC drama, “This Is Us” (multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations). She is a Critics Choice and multiple NAACP Image Award nominee for “This Is Us.” She has had recurring roles on "The Blacklist," "The Following," "Louie," "NCIS," and many guest appearances.  She recently starred in and Executive Produced HBO’s Between the World and Me. Other film: Sony’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, Blackout, and Executive Producer of Premature.


Jocelyn Bioh
Saheem Ali
Beowulf Boritt
Scenic Design
Dede Ayite
Costume Design
Jiyoun Chang
Lighting Design
Kai Harada
Co-Sound Design
Palmer Hefferan
Co-Sound Design
Michael Thurber
Original Music
Farai Malianga
Original Drum Compositions
Rocío Mendez
Fight Direction
Darrell Grand Moultrie
Cookie Jordan
Hair, Wigs and Makeup Design
Narda E. Alcorn
Production Stage Manager
Benjamin E.C. Pfister
Stage Manager
Jessica Paz
Sound System Design