Shakespeare in the Park Plagued by Bad Weather, Raccoons

Photo: Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: iStockphoto, Michal Daniel/Courtesy of The Public Theater

One of the great thrills of seeing Shakespeare in the Park is knowing that every show can fall victim to vagaries of nature (example: Last year's opening of Romeo & Juliet was hit with a low-grade monsoon). And this summer's production of Hamlet has already seen a few doozies. Public Theater director Oskar Eustis says that they had a performance during that crazy wind-and-thunder storm on June 10 (you know, the one that was blowing lumber off safety-lax construction sites and sending Death Cab for Cutie running for cover at McCarren Park Pool). Eustis delayed calling off the show in hope that the weather would clear. "We eventually had to call it," he says, "but not before Michael Stuhlbarg [Hamlet] did 'O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!' in the middle of what looked like a tornado. I mean it looked like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. It's a moment I'll never forget. So I can't regret that one."

And then there are the Public's furry friends, a pair of raccoons who call the Delacorte Theater home. "They live in the theater, and they will occasionally stroll across the stage," says Eustis. "One night during the gravedigger scene we had a couple of raccoons just walk across upstage. The entire audience reacted to the raccoons, and the actors, who were downstage, had no idea what was happening. They thought suddenly they'd become very funny." Their affinity for ruining dramatic moments has earned the raccoon nicknames, says Eustis. "But they're not names that I can say in what might be a family publication." —Jada Yuan