A new adaptation of Hercules based on Disney’s 1997 animated film and featuring additional music by Alan Menken and David Zippel, a new book by Glow writer Kristoffer Diaz and choreography by Be More Chill choreographer Chase Brock will conclude this summer’s season of the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare In The Park, the Public announced today.
Hercules will close out the season at the Delacorte theater in Central Park following productions of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by American Son director Kenny Leon, and Coriolanus, directed by Daniel Sullivan.
The Hercules staging will be the latest of the Public’s Public Works initiative productions that invite community groups throughout the city to participate in the development of theater works. Last summer the initiative produced the very popular Twelfth Night with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub.
“Our Public Works community promises to connect this brilliantly conceived story back to the earth from which it sprang: the people,” said Oskar Eustis, Public Theater Artistic Director, in a statement. “What a grand and unlikely experience this will be.”
Casting for the productions was not announced.
Hercules, set for August 31-September 8, will feature a new book by Diaz and direction by Public Works Founder Lear deBessonet. The new adaptation will feature the film’s score with additional Menken-Zippel songs.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lear deBessonet back at the helm of our Public Works initiative for the first time since 2015,” said Eustis. “Alan Menken is one of the great musical geniuses of our time; it is an honor to welcome him, David Zippel, and Kristoffer Diaz to the Delacorte.”
Said deBessonet, “Many generations of our Public Works families have embraced Disney musicals as a shared American canon. “Hercules’ roots in Greek mythology, infused with soulful gospel music, make it a natural extension of Public Works’ radical exploration of humanity through Shakespeare and the classics. We’re excited to see how this Public Works production will uncover the deeper meaning of what it means to be a hero and how true strength is derived, not from the greatness of one person, but the transformative power of community.”
Hercules will be presented by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.
The Park season will kick off with Leon’s Much Ado, running May 21-June 23, a production described by the Public as a “bold” and “modern” new take on the romantic comedy. “Much Ado is one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, and Kenny’s vision promises to make it as fresh and revelatory as a new play,” said Eustis.
Coriolanus, rarely performed in the Park, will run July 16-August 11, and is described by the Public as a modern-day version. Among Sullivan’s many stage credits are Park productions of Troilus and Cressida, King Lear and As You Like It.