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Al Pacino Stuns Crowd in The Merchant of Venice
anne mclendon 14 staff writer
December 16, 2010

Awaiting a Sunday matinee of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on Broadway, eager audience members form a line that stretches all the way down the block. Why all the fuss?

The star of popular movies The Godfather and Scarface, Al Pacino has established himself as a talented film actor and now tries his land at live drama. Despite the title, the play focuses not on the Italian merchant, Antonio, but instead on Mr. Pacino’s character, a Jewish moneylender named Shylock. The combination of classic Shakespeare and the notorious film actor attracts many.

Shylock lends money to the anti-Semitic Antonio under the condition that if he does not pay him back he must pay him with a pound of his own flesh. Antonio discriminates against Shylock, and so the moneylender decides to take revenge.

Though widely considered a tragedy, the play has comedic moments involving Lily Rabe’s character, Portia, a young heiress wooed by suitors. As demanded by Portia’s late father, the suitors must pass a test of character and choose a box of lead over boxes of gold and silver.

Ms. Rabe’s performance of Portia has the audience roaring with laughter, and Mr. Pacino mesmerizes the crowd with his stage presence. It certainly is a unique opportunity to see such a famous actor live on Broadway. The New York Times‘s Ben Brantley wrote, “… The aftertaste is thrillingly sweet.”

Many Deerfield students will commence studies of Shakespeare after vacation, and the community will soon enjoy a visit from Shakespearean star John Douglas Thompson. Why not begin the Shakespeare frenzy sooner by attending The Merchant of Venice? The theater is on West 44th Street and 8th Avenue, and the show plays until January 9th.