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An aisle seat under the stars in the city

Neither (light) rain nor sweat nor noisy helicopters can get in the way of New Yorkers and their outdoor summer theater. Here are a few classics in the open air this weekend.


1. 'The Merchant of Venice'

WHAT Two chances to see the summer's biggie, the one with Al Pacino as Shylock in Daniel Sullivan's gripping production of the monumental ethical conundrum of a tragicomedy. Lines begin early - would you believe the night before? - for distribution of tickets at 1 p.m.

WHEN | WHERE Friday and Saturday nights at 8, Delacorte Theater, Central Park, entrance at 81st Street and Central Park West.

INFO Free, two tickets per person on the day of performance. Also, a limited number of tickets are awarded through an online lottery at publictheater.org. For those willing to donate $350, reserved "summer supporter" seats are available. Visit shakespeareinthepark.org


2. 'The Winter's Tale'

WHAT Shakespeare's other tricky production in Central Park is half revenge tragedy, half bucolic romance, tied together with a lot of forgiveness. Michael Greif's production stars Ruben Santiago-Hudson as the jealous king and Linda Emond as his wronged wife.

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 8 p.m., Delacorte Theater, Central Park, entrance at 81st Street and Central Park West.

INFO See "Merchant," above


3. 'Love's Labour's Lost'

WHAT The alt-theater troupe called the Drilling Company continues its Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot project this summer with a modern update of the romantic comedy. (An updated "Julius Caesar" runs Thursday to Aug. 14.)

WHEN | WHERE Friday and Saturday nights at 8, municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome streets.

INFO Free, 212-873-9050, shakespeareintheparkinglot.com


4. 'Cyrano'

WHAT See? Somebody dares to greet the elements with words by someone other than Shakespeare. Nicholas Martin-Smith directs this revival of Edmond Rostand's irresistible late-romantic swashbuckling tragedy about the heroism and beauty lost behind a nose.

WHEN | WHERE Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Riverside Park, 89th Street at Riverside Drive.

INFO Suggested $5 donation, hudsonwarehouse.net


5. 'Much Ado About Nothing'

WHAT This one is guaranteed to be a moving experience. In what the New York Classical Theatre calls its "signature panoramic style," theatergoers are led from scene to scene through the evening. Flashlights are used when the sun sets. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

WHEN | WHERE Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m.; meet in front of Castle Clinton in Battery Park. (From Aug. 5 to 29, the production moves uptown to meet at Central Park West and 103rd Street.)

INFO Free, 212-252-4531, newyorkclassical.org

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