MERRY WIVES - FREE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
July 6, 2021 - September 18, 2021
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Saheem Ali
Featuring Abena, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Pascale Armand, MaYaa Boateng, Phillip James Brannon, Brandon E. Burton, Joshua Echebiri, Angela Grovey, Branden Lindsay, Zonya Love, Jarvis D. Matthews, Jacob Ming-Trent, Jennifer Mogbock, Julian Rozzell Jr., Kyle Scatliffe, David Ryan Smith, and Sarin Monae West
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.
WELCOME BACK NEW YORK CITY
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
DIVE DEEPER INTO MERRY WIVES
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
ANGELA GROVEY (Mama Quickly). A very proud native Texan who has learned to embrace the cold, Grovey is proud to be making her Shakespeare in the Park debut with this beautiful company. Broadway: Escape to Margaritaville, Leap of Faith. National Tour: The Play That Goes Wrong (Annie), Newsies (Medda). Coming up: Master (Netflix), “Modern Love” (Amazon). TV/ Film: “Monsterland” (Amazon), “The Blacklist” (NBC), “High Maintenance” (HBO), “Ray Donavan” (Showtime), “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix), “Iron Fist” (Netflix), Joyful Noise (Warner Bros), “30 Rock” (NBC), “The Unusuals” (ABC). Some of the theaters Grovey has danced across: Irish Rep, City Center Encores, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Vineyard, Papermill, Goodspeed. @angelagrovey
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.
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.
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.
JENNIFER MOGBOCK (Madam Nkechi Ford). 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.
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.
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.
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.
Sarin Monae West
SARIN MONAE WEST (Ensemble). RedBull Theater: Romeo and Juliet (virtual). Recent directors include: Whitney White, Brandon Dirden, Michele Shay, Arin Arbus. Upcoming: Mia MIA (La MaMa). BFA: Oklahoma City University. MFA: NYU Graduate Acting. @sarinmonae www.sarinmonae.com
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