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Public Theater Mobile Unit brings free, outdoor bilingual musical production to Queens

May. 5, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

This month, The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit is embarking on a new tour in Queens with a bilingual musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors” that will include English and Spanish music inspired by styles across Latin America. 

In partnership with New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation and Department of Transportation, as well as other key Mobile Unit partners, ‘The Comedy of Errors’ will pop up both outside and indoors at public plazas, parks, and community centers across the five boroughs from Tuesday, May 2, through Sunday, May 21, as part of The Public’s commitment to bringing free theater to all and deepening its engagement with communities around NYC. 

In Queens, The Public Theatre made its first stop at the Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, located at 177-01 Baisley Blvd. in Jamaica, on Thursday, May 4. 

There will be a performance at the A.R.R.O.W. Field House, located at 35-30 35th St. in Astoria, on Wednesday, May 17, at 5 p.m. followed by another show at the same location on Friday, May 19, at 5 p.m. The Mobile Unit will conclude its tour at Corona Plaza, located at 40-04 National St., on Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. 

“The Comedy of Errors” is conceived by Director Rebecca Martínez and Composer Julián Mesri, a member of The Public’s 2022-23 Emerging Writers Group. 

Director Rebecca Martínez. (Photo courtesy of The Public Theater)

This new adaptation rigorously embraces music from all over Latin America in this tale of separation and joyous reunion. With songs in English and Spanish, this new musical adaptation brings an energetic vibe to this age-old tale of two sets of twins separated by stormy seas as they overcome a baffling case of mistaken identity and the mayhem and hilarious confusion that follows.

“Rebecca Martínez and Julián Mesri have masterfully adapted Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors,’ injecting it with warmth and energy that you will find infectious as you tap your toes and hum new songs that feel amazingly recognizable yet entirely new,” said Freedome Bradley-Ballentine, associate artistic director/director of artistic programs at The Public Theater. “They have embraced one of Joe Papp’s core values — accessibility — by creating a bilingual version that invites everyone into the joyous world they’ve created.”

Composer Composer Julián Mesri. (Photo courtesy of The Public Theater)

Praycious Wilson-Gay, interim director of the Mobile Unit, said she is elated to be in community with the Mobile Unit’s new and inveterate partners sharing this modern reimagining of a classic story. 

“Working with Rebecca Martinez and Julián Mesri is a gift. With the help of Shakespeare’s ingenuity, Rebecca’s exemplary vision and Julián’s resonant music, ‘The Comedy of Errors’ is an amusing and witty story of mistaken identity and family separation,” Wilson-Gay said. 

The Mobile Unit’s free tours bring Shakespeare and other works to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts, traditionally by visiting correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations and other community organizations. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mobile Unit has expanded its tour locations to primarily outdoor venues, returning to long-standing partners and visiting new locations around the five boroughs. Mobile Unit continues its relationships with NYC’s Department of Parks & Recreation, Department of Transportation, and local community groups to bring this hybrid indoor-outdoor tour to accessible spaces around the city.

A full tour schedule and more details can be found at publictheater.org.

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