NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A beloved New York City tradition that was halted during the pandemic is planning a comeback.

The Public Theater on Tuesday announced the return of Shakespeare in the Park.

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Like all theaters, the Delacorte has been shut down since last March, but in just a few months, that will all change.

The decades-old summer tradition is returning from July 5 to Aug. 29, filling a painful void caused by the pandemic.

“This is hope. This is New York City coming back to life,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.


Saheem Ali will be directing “Merry Wives,” an adaptation of “Merry Wives of Windsor,” complete with a New York City twist.

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“We’re excited to fill this theater with laughter, with radical Black joy and to celebrate the rich diversity that New York City has to offer,” Ali said.

But as with everything these days, it’s not just business as usual.

Organizers are waiting for new health guidelines to know how many people can fill the audience, and for safety reasons, those long lines for free tickets, a hallmark of the experience, may have to temporarily disappear.

“The idea of the line fundamentally is the equitable distribution of the tickets,” Oskar Eustis, artistic director for the Public Theater, told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas. “We’ll find a way to equitably distribute the tickets even if we can’t have a physical line.”

Finding a way is grit that’s sustained the arts community during a devastating year, and finally, it’s time for their comeback.

If they were to put on a show today, the Delacorte would be allowed to have about 500 people in the stands. Organizers expect that number to rise by July.

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But they say whatever the number, those performances will be an utter celebration.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas