Shakespeare stars swelter in heatwave

Al Pacino tackles the role of Shylock in the open-air production opposite former Law & Order star Jesse L. Martin, and the actors endured blistering heat at the Delacorte Theater as temperatures in the city hit a record 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 Celsius).

The heatwave has caused blackouts and affected commuter train services, but the show in Central Park went ahead as planned and producers took precautions to make sure the stars didn’t suffer.

The actors were offered ice packs, isotonic drinks and towels drenched in cold water to keep them cool, while engineers attempted to stop their microphones short-circuiting by spraying them with compressed air.

Stage manager Stephen Kaus tells the New York Post, “I am absolutely sure it takes twice as much stamina… to get through a performance in this weather. The more you sweat on your brow, the more your perspiration may get into your microphone. So the crew runs around backstage spraying the microphones with compressed air to keep them dry.”

Martin admits he found the performance tough, saying, “It’s no party, I can tell you that. It feels like exercising in a microwave. The show must go on, but whew!”

But Pacino insisted he had been unaffected by the heat, adding, “The show was great.”