THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Presents The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park Production of Much Ado About Nothing Friday, November 22 on PBS as Part of Third Annual “Broadway’s Best” Lineup
All-black cast features Danielle Brooks and Grantham Coleman, directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon
For the first time in over four decades, THIRTEEN’s Great Performances series presents a Public Theater production recorded live at Free Shakespeare in the Park. After a highly successful, critically acclaimed run at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park, Much Ado About Nothing joins the third annual Great Performances “Broadway’s Best” lineup, premiering nationwide Friday, November 22 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS video app.
This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “The Color Purple”) and Grantham Coleman (“Buzzer,” “The Americans”) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (“American Son,” “A Raisin in the Sun”) directs with choreography by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown (“Choir Boy”).
“Great Performances has a long history of providing audiences free access to the best in theater, from Broadway musicals to Shakespearean classics, and we’re delighted to partner with The Public Theater again,” said Great Performances Executive Producer David Horn, who directed the play for television. “This modern reinterpretation by Kenny Leon couldn’t be more timely, showing how Shakespeare addressed issues that we are still facing as a country today.”
“The Public is theater of, by and for all people, and we are thrilled that our partnership with Great Performances will bring our Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Kenny Leon’s brilliant production of Much Ado About Nothing to even more audiences throughout New York City and across the country,” said Patrick Willingham, Executive Director of The Public Theater.
Set in contemporary Georgia with an election race underway, Great Performances: Much Ado About Nothing finds the community of Messina celebrating a break from an ongoing war, but not all is peaceful amid the merriment. Former rivals battle it out, revenge is sought and trickery runs amok in this timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication. Earning a New York Times Critic’s Pick, the play was recorded during its final weekend of Free Shakespeare in the Park performances, June 22-23, 2019.
The cast also includes Jamar Brathwaite (Ensemble), Chuck Cooper (Leonato), Javen K. Crosby (Ensemble), Denzel DeAngelo Fields (Ensemble), Jeremie Harris (Claudio), Tayler Harris (Ensemble), Erik Laray Harvey (Antonio/Verges), Kai Heath (Messenger), Daniel Croix Henderson (Balthasar), Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Friar Francis/Sexton), Tiffany Denise Hobbs (Ursula), Lateefah Holder (Dogberry), LaWanda Hopkins (Dancer), Billy Eugene Jones (Don Pedro), Margaret Odette (Hero), Hubert Point-Du Jour (Don John), William Roberson (Ensemble), Jaime Lincoln Smith (Borachio), Jazmine Stewart (Ensemble), Khiry Walker (Conrade/Ensemble), Olivia Washington (Margaret) and Latra A. Wilson (Dancer).
The third annual Great Performances “Broadway’s Best” lineup premieres Fridays, November 1-29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS video app, featuring 42nd Street (November 1), the Broadway fable of a star-struck chorus girl dreaming of her big break; Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I (November 8), Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of the beloved musical classic inspired by the true story of a British school teacher in the royal court of Siam, starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe; Red (November 15), the Tony Award-winning play starring Alfred Molina as painter Mark Rothko; and Kinky Boots (November 29), the 2013 Broadway blockbuster about an unexpected duo joining forces to create an extraordinary line of shoes, featuring music and lyrics by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein.
Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Great Performances: Much Ado About Nothing is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET in association with The Public Theater. Directed for television by David Horn. Produced by Mitch Owgang. Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
This Great Performances presentation is funded by The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, The Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and PBS.
About The Public Theater Print
The Public is theater of, by, and for all people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public’s wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, The Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Studio, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe’s Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country and around the world. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 178 Obie Awards, 53 Drama Desk Awards, 56 Lortel Awards, 34 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes. publictheater.org
About WNET Print
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.