NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — “Much Ado About Nothing” kicks off the Shakespeare season in Central Park.

Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe star as Benedick and Beatrice, the would-be lovers who match wits throughout one of William Shakespeare’s most fun and beloved plays.

Jack O’Brien directs the play, his first park production.

“It takes a lot of training. It takes a lot of vocal acuity. It takes all sorts of skill,” O’Brien told WCBS 880’s Lynda Lopez. “And both of these young people (Linklater and Rabe) have it in spades.”

The play, presented by The Public Theater, opened Thursday and runs through July 6 at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. Admission is free.

LINK: More Info About ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Linklater is best known for his roles in the TV series “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “The Crazy Ones.” He has previously appeared in the Shakespeare in the Park productions of “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night,” and “The Merchant of Venice.”

“Hamish might be the young actor of his own generation,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think there’s anybody more equipped, more at ease with taking something like a 400-year-old script and making it sound like he just made it up on the spot.”

Rabe, who has starred in “American Horror Story,” has previously appeared in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” and “As You Like It” at Central Park.

“She’s the real deal,” O’Brien said. “She is a first-class star of the greatest magnitude.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” also stars Broadway veteran Brian Stokes Mitchell, a Tony Award winner.

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