Theater: All's Well That Begins Well

Midsummer Night's Dream launches Papp's Shakespeare cycle

The era of the impresario is all but ended in the commercial theater. Practically everything that comes to Broadway nowadays is funded by committee and imported wholesale from somewhere else. Off-Broadway, however, the American theater's boldest, most ambitious, quirkiest, most pedantic and at times most infuriating showman holds sway more forcefully than ever. Joseph Papp has built, at the New York Shakespeare Festival, a personal barony more than an institution. Although he sometimes describes his $14 million annual operation as the biggest "regional" theater in the nation, its six-theater complex and staff of 125 stand in the shadows of his outsize...

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