Who says New York City has to be expensive? Every month the Big Apple is filled with free events in the arts and culture that are open to the public, without advance reservations or ticketing. Among the top picks for May are celebrations of one of the city’s most iconic performing arts venues, a selection of snippets from this season on Broadway, and a classic work by Shakespeare given a new feminist aspect.
1. 60th Anniversary Block Party at Lincoln Center – Marking six decades since its historic groundbreaking, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, from West 60th to 66th Streets) celebrates the milestone with an event-filled block party on the plaza on Saturday, May 4, beginning at 10 am. Featuring the Center’s eleven constituent organizations, the festivities include activities for all ages, so bring the kids to experience a variety of performances, film screenings, tours, art-making stations, food trucks, and more, culminating in a grand finale at 1:30, with Musical Director Sunny Jain, who will conduct more than 135 musicians from atop the Revson Fountain. Among the highlights for theater-lovers is a song from Lincoln Center Theater’s current production of My Fair Lady performed by Christian Dante White.
2. Stars in the Alley – The Broadway League presents its annual star-studded live outdoor concert of songs from over 25 current shows on the Great White Way in Broadway’s legendary Shubert Alley (in the heart of New York’s Theater District, running between Eighth Avenue and Broadway, 44th and 45th Streets). Kicking off at 1 pm on Friday, May 10, the rain-or-shine event will be hosted by 2019 Tony-Award nominee Alex Brightman, star of Beetlejuice, and Aladdin ‘s Michael James Scott will serve as backstage host, covering the event live on Instagram @Broadway. Participating musicals (subject to change) include Ain’t Too Proud; Aladdin; Beautiful: The Carol King Musical; Beetlejuice; Be More Chill; The Cher Show; Chicago; Come From Away; Dear Evan Hansen; Frozen; Hadestown; King Kong; Kiss Me, Kate; The Lion King; Mean Girls; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!; The Phantom of the Opera; Pretty Woman; The Prom; Tootsie; Waitress; and Wicked, with additional appearances from The Ferryman; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 &2; Ink; and What the Constitution Means to Me.
3. Hamlet: Princess of Denmark – The Drilling Company returns for another season of outdoor productions of Shakespeare in Bryant Park (located between 40th and 42nd Streets, Fifth and Sixth Avenues), beginning with a gender-reversed adaptation of The Bard’s beloved tragedy. In the acclaimed ensemble’s new re-envisioning, it’s not just a woman playing the Dane, but the Dane is now a woman, bringing a defining female power to the doomed character. Directed by Karla Hendrick and starring Jane Bradley in the titular role, this is sure to be a smart and relevant view of Shakespeare for the #MeToo era. Performances run Thursday, May 16 to Saturday, May 25, with a 7 pm curtain time.
Springtime in the city offers something for everyone, and you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a satisfying selection of theatrical events!