Sometimes the show just can't go on.

By Nick Romano
April 17, 2020 at 11:33 AM EDT
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Joan Marcus

For the past 58 years, New York City's famed and acclaimed Shakespeare in the Park offered free stage productions in Manhattan's Central Park during the summer season. The show, as they say, must go on. But this year, the show just can't go on.

For the first time in more than five decades, the Public Theater has canceled this summer's season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Every summer for the last 58 years we have reveled in gathering under the stars at the magical Delacorte Theater for Free Shakespeare in the Park," a statement reads. "We come together as strangers, visitors, and fellow New Yorkers, as audiences and artists, and we get a glimpse of what a unified city could look like. But this year is different. This year, we must stand together in keeping our city and each other safe."

The cancellations include the planned productions of William Shakespeare's Richard II, As You Like It at Public Works, the new Afro-surrealist play Cullud Wattah, and all Joe's Pub performances in Astor Place through Aug. 31.

"This is a time of immense shared loss, throughout our city and throughout the world," the statement continues. "The Public will bear financial losses, reductions in our staffing, and most heartbreakingly, the loss of our ability to gather and share stories together. While our stages will remain dark, our commitment to our mission will burn brighter than ever."

According to Playbill.com, about 70 percent of the Public Theater's staff have been furloughed.

For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.

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