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Bryant Park’s free performance lineup includes ballet master class and Shakespeare

Your weeknights are about to get much more exciting.

In celebration of Shakespeare's 454th birthday, The Drilling

In celebration of Shakespeare's 454th birthday, The Drilling Company will perform monologues and scenes featuring dynamic female leads from the bard's various plays, and there will be a New Orleans Second Line funeral procession by the Jambalaya Brass Band. (Free, 6 to 8 p.m., Bryant Park's Fountain Terrace, bryantpark.org) Photo Credit: Ryan Muir

Bryant Park has announced its jam-packed summer schedule of live performances, with dance parties that even include a free ballet master class with the American Ballet Theatre.

The 2018 summer performing arts series, which has been renamed “Bryant Park Picnics,” opens April 23 with “The Folio is Female: Great Women of Shakespeare.”

The Drilling Company, a New York-based theater troupe that puts on free Shakespeare plays, some with modern twists, will perform classic monologues and scenes featuring dynamic female leads in Shakespeare’s plays to celebrate the bard’s birthday. There also will be a New Orleans second line funeral processional by the Jambalaya Brass Band to usher in Shakespeare’s spirit.

Whether you’re watching shows by Carnegie Hall Citywide, Shakespeare or a New York City Opera show, you’ll be able to spread out on the lawn with one of the park’s blankets after a long work day. There are no lines, no fees and no wait, the park states in its announcement.

Here are some highlights of the lineup:

  • “The Folio is Female” by The Drilling Company — April 23, 6 p.m.
  • “Carmen” by the New York City Opera — May 14, 6 p.m.
  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by The Drilling Company - Fridays and Saturdays, May 18 — June 2, 7 p.m.
  • “Madama Butterfly” by the New York City Opera — June 13, 6 p.m.
  • Free outdoor ballet master class with Cynthia Harvey, a former ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre and artistic director at ABT’s school. Following the class, principal dancers from ABT will join the stage for a conversation about their journeys. Registration encouraged — June 15
  • Brave Combo — July 18, 5:30 p.m.
  • Decoda — July 25, 5:30 p.m.
  • “Twelfth Night” by The Drilling Company — July 27-28, 7 p.m., and July 29, 3 p.m.
  • Locos por Juana — Aug. 1, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sinkane — Aug. 8, 5:30 p.m.
  • The Campbell Brothers, Les Grands Hurleurs, Jordan Officer, Ismael & The Radiant Select and Tribu Baharu at the Carnegie Hall Citywide Night — Aug. 10, 5 to 10 p.m.
  • “Accordions Around the World” — Wednesdays, Aug. 15 - Sept. 12, 5:30 p.m.
  • Emerging Music Festival with Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton with Terry Waldo’s Rum House Jass Band, EZTV, Plastic Picnic, Katie von Schleicher, Underground System and more — Aug. 17-18
  • “Macbeth” by the The Drilling Company — Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 24 - Sept. 8, 7 p.m.
  • “The Crucible” by the New York City Opera — Aug. 28, 6 p.m.
  • The Accordion Festival with Italian superstars Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino and Shilpa Ray, Bukharan Jewish music and dance from Shashmaqam and all-female Mexican Nortena Rimel — Aug. 15
  • “The Barber of Seville” by the New York City Opera — Sept. 17, 6 p.m.
  • Contemporary dance (Kate Weare, Bryn Cohn & Artists, NOW Dance Project, Kinetic Architecture, Earl Mosely School, Joe Monteleone, Eryc Taylor, Tina Croll, Benny Royce, Diva Dancers, Julia Ehrstrand, Igal Perry Peridance Company, Tiffany Mills, Steps on Broadway Summer Study NYC and the Harlem School of the Arts) — Fridays, June 22 - July 20, 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Weekly dance parties featuring swing, tango, bhangra and salsa music — Wednesdays, May 2 - June 8, at 6 p.m.

You won’t have to worry about getting dinner first before heading to Bryant Park. There will be a slew of food vendors to choose from, such as Brooklyn Oyster Company, Bonsai Kakigori, Sweetface Snoballs and more, including those with beer and wine for sale.

And as always, there will be jugglers and supersized games on site.

“Grab a blanket and try something new: listen to opera for the first time, learn a ballet move or watch ‘Macbeth,’” Dan Fishman, the public events manager at the Bryant Park Corporation, said in a statement. “It’s completely free, and there is nothing like watching a world-class performance from the comfort of a picnic.”

Check out bryantpark.org for more information.

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