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Oskar Eustis

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Shakespeare in the Park: Wet and Wild

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The first bad sign at last night's opening performance of Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare in the Park came when the lighting operators suddenly descended from their rigs in the middle of Juliet's sleeping-potion soliloquy. Lauren Ambrose as Juliet collapsed on her bed, and then, le deluge. Cut to a thousand-odd slow-moving theater folk, stuck in the open-air Delacorte, trying to flee a downpour in their gala finery. Shakespeare's wasn't the only tragedy on display. Outside, huddled six-deep under the theater's awning and waiting to find out if we'd head back for the big finish, Allison Janney told us that when she’d done Taming of the Shrew in the park, the cast had prayed for rain because it was so hot. (Be careful what you pray for, as they say.) Then Oskar Eustis, the Public's creative director, made a decree: “God decided that tonight Romeo and Juliet will live!” There would be no death-scene finale. But the party was still on.