Post-Papp Festival opens with a hit


NEW YORK -- The 30th anniversary season of the now world famous New York Shakespeare Festival got under way this month without founder Joseph Papp, whose death last year was mourned throughout the American theatrical community.

But the critical and popular success of its season-opening, uniquely fun-filled production of "As You Like It" is a fitting memorial tribute to the civic-minded impresario, who never lost faith that a dangerous urban greensward like Central Park could be made safe for a public's evening enjoyment, and that Shakespeare could be made enjoyable for the general public.

Starring the movies' Elizabeth McGovern and Donald Moffat, and TV's Kathryn Meisle, Richard Libertini and Siobhan Fallon, this "As You Like It" has proved one to be liked by Shakespearean purists and critics as much as average theatergoers, who are charged nothing for admission.

McGovern herself said of the show: "It's been a blast. This has been great fun for every one of us."

Much of the credit for the good humor of the production must go to director Adrian Hall, who was unable to fulfill a longstanding promise to direct for Papp until now.

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