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Sixty-one Brooklyn residents ‘go the distance’ in Public Works’ “Hercules”

BOROUGHWIDE — Sixty-one residents of Brooklyn are part of the cast of the new Public Works’ adaptation of the 1997 Disney classic “Hercules.” They’ve joined together with over 200 New Yorkers to tell the story of the mighty Roman god.

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Kristoffer Diaz, the show is directed by Lear deBessonet. It will run for seven nights at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, from Friday, Aug. 31 to Sunday, Sept. 8. Free tickets will be distributed via digital lottery.

Along with six songs from the Academy Award-nominated film’s beloved score, the Public Works production includes new, additional songs by Menken and Zippel.

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Hercules is played by Jelani Alladin. Tony Award-winning actor Roger Bart, who voiced the character of Hercules in the animated version and sang “Go the Distance,” returns as Hades in the new production. “Go the Distance” was also recorded by Michael Bolton, reaching number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997.

The Public Works production is a partnership with borough-based nonprofits Brownsville Recreation Center, which offers extensive resources for youth and seniors, and Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, which provides comprehensive social services for children and adults.

Working with community partners in all five boroughs, Public Works has invited community members to take classes, attend performances and join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater.

“The heart of Public Works is our partnerships with community organizations across the city,” said Laurie Woolery, director of Public Works. “We are so honored that the ‘Hercules’ cast includes people from Staten Island to the north Bronx, all joining together in Central Park to make magnificent, soulful and excellent art.”


Choreographer Chase Brock and the company in rehearsal for Public Works’ “Hercules.”

According to Hélène Onserud of Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, “Public Works is only one part of what we do, but it fits so perfectly with what we are trying to accomplish in the neighborhood.”

Onserud continued, “Public Works recognizes that the fabric of a community is meaningful relationships, and what Public Works does really well is intentionally create occasions for meaningful relationships to happen.”

This is eight-year-old Isabelle Romero’s first theatrical performance, and she says she’s having fun and learning at the same time. “I was cast as one of the three Fates,” Isabelle told this paper. “Public Works has been teaching me how to use my voice and new dance moves. I am excited for everyone to watch the show. I am so happy to be part of the Public Works community.”

Her five-year-old sister Mayiah agrees: “I am part of the town of Agora in the play,” she said. “It was a lot of fun learning the songs and the dance moves.”

The sisters live in Sunset Park and attend P.S. 506 at 59th Street and Third Avenue. They are part of the Center for Life after-school program.

“My daughters and I became a part of the acting classes this year,” the girls’ father Marvin Romero told this paper.

“We auditioned for the ‘Hercules’ show. They were very interested in Isabelle’s voice and after several auditions she was cast as one of the three Fates. It has really been a great experience for my daughters and me to be a part of this play. The entire Public Works community has been so helpful. I never would have imagined being in a play. We are very grateful to Public Works,” he added.

Additional information about Public Works’ “Hercules” can be found at www.publictheater.org.


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