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What is Antonio to do? He’s a well-respected community leader, but through a complex effort to help a friend in love he owes a pound of his own flesh to a man who despises him.

And what about that pathetic Sir John Falstaff? He devised a get-rich-quick scheme that backfired big time. Now he’s being humiliated bigger time.

These two scenarios come to eight Queens parks in July and August (the Bronx, Jersey City, and Southampton, too). The Hip to Hip Theatre Company is back for its ninth year, providing free, family-friendly performances of Shakespeare plays. This summer, Woodside-based co-founders Jason and Joy Marr have chosen The Merchant of Venice, a dark drama about a 16th century merchant, Antonio, who defaults on a loan from a moneylender, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy about a flat broke, alcoholic aristocrat, Sir John Falstaff, who tries to bed the wives of two rich men. However, the women are not amused and respond with a series of practical jokes.

The fun begins on Wednesday with Merchant at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On Thursday, Merry Wives plays at Crocheron Park in Bayside. Then, the professional actors do 17 more productions in such neighborhoods as Forest Park, Fresh Meadows, Long Island City, and Sunnyside.

Click here for the complete schedule.

Photo by Hip to Hip Theatre Company

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Carol Burnett comes to Queens this weekend. Lucky her! She’ll find great opera, Cameroonian music, Brazilian film, Indian modernist art, Mexican dance, Canadian puppetry, a brand new musical, and even kite-flying. Here’s the rundown.

May 7, Operatic Classics, 7 pm. The Queens Symphony Orchestra presents classic selections with Metropolitan Opera tenor Chad Shelton and baritone David Adam Moore. Free. Electrical Industry Center Auditorium, 158-11 Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Avenue, Fresh Meadows.

May 8, Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett, 8 pm. This 90-minute interactive experience’s format harkens back to the openings of The Carol Burnett Show, when her studio audience had an unfiltered opportunity to engage the comedian with questions and receive spontaneous answers. $39-$85. Colden Auditorium, Queens College, 65-23 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing.

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Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.

Details after the jump.

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Is it possible to create twins via cloning? Because that’s the only way to enjoy all the top-notch live music in Queens this Thursday, when the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the country’s best Beatles tribute band come to town.

At 7 pm, the Met — in association with SummerStage and City Parks Foundation — will host a concert in Socrates Sculpture Park featuring Mary-Jane Lee (soprano), Ginger Costa-Jackson (mezzo-soprano), and Yunpeng Wang (baritone), accompanied by Dan Saunders (pianist). They will perform arias and duets from a variety of operas. At 7:30 pm, Strawberry Fields (above), a group that former President Bill Clinton praises in his book Giving, will take its audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the Fab Four’s biggest hits as part of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s 2014 Waterfront Concert Series. Then at 8 pm, the New York Philharmonic, which is the county’s oldest symphony orchestra, will venture away from Lincoln Center to give a free concert with Strauss, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Alan Gilbert as the conductor in Cunningham Park.

Opera details: Metropolitan Opera Recital, Socrates Sculpture Park (below), 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, July 10th, 7 pm, free. 

Beatles details: Strawberry Fields, Astoria Park Great Lawn, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool, Astoria, July 10th, 7:30 pm, free.

Orchestra details: New York Philharmonic in the Park, Cunningham Park, 193rd Street near Union
Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, July 10th, 8 pm, free.

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It’s the appropriate show for the world’s most diverse county. Ty Tojo, a 15-year-old from Japan who holds three Guinness world records, juggles until the crowd’s jaws drop. Duo Guerrero, who hail from Portugal and Colombia, dance across the sky on a high wire. French flimflam fellow Pierre Ginet favors fusing comedy and crime, bewildering audiences with his shenanigans…and relieving them of their wallets, watches and jewelry. But patriots can rejoice, too, as US-born Jenny Vidbel (above) warms the heart with her adorable ponies and animated puppies. From this Sunday through June 15th, the Big Apple Circus will present Luminocity, its new gig celebrating vivacity, velocity and verve, in Cunningham Park. The travelling troupe will do 47 performances under an air-conditioned Big Top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from ringside.

Details: Luminocity, Cunningham Park, 196-22 Union Turnpike just west of Francis Lewis Boulevard, Fresh Meadows, May 18th through June 15th, click for schedule, the show’s running time is about two hours, including a 15-minute intermission, $20-$65.

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They’re the best in the world. They’ve been practicing since 1842. And they’ve offered these kinds of concerts since 1965. This Thursday, the New York Philharmonic will give a free, outdoor presentation in Cunningham Park as part of a summer tour through the outer boroughs. Music Director Alan Gilbert, a native New Yorker whose resume includes stints with the Royal Stockholm, Hamburg NDR, Boston Symphony and Berlin philharmonics, will lead the musicians, while Principal Cello Carter Brey, a virtuoso known for flawless technique and complete musicianship, will take the spotlight. (Brey’s violoncello is a rare J. B. Guadagnini made in Milan in 1754.) Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor are included in the program, which will end with pyrotechnics by Bay Fireworks. Details: New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park, July 11, 8 pm, 193rd Street Field in Cunningham Park, Fresh Meadows, free.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

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A shipwreck, a conspiracy, magic, monsters and love at first sight. The Hip to Hip Theatre Company kicks off its summer season with The Tempest, Shakespeare’s romantic thriller about a deposed duke. After 12 years on a deserted island, the duke uses magic to raise a storm at sea while seeking revenge on the foes who purloined his dukedom. Hip to Hip will present The Tempest and Love’s Labor Lost at 10 Queens venues — Crocheron Park in Bayside, Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Unisphere, Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC, Lost Battalion Recreation Center in Rego Park, O’Donohue Park in Far Rockaway, Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Sunnyside Gardens Park, St. Albans Park and Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing — over the next two months. Founded in 2007 by Queens-based actors Jason and Joy Marr, Hip to Hip strives to provide fantastic theater at accessible locations. Its name comes from a phrase in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Details: Free Shakespeare in the Park, first show on July 24, O’Donohue Park, vicinity of Seagirt Boulevard at Beach 17th Street, Far Rockaway, 7 pm.

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Images Source: Fred Cantor

Brooklyn might have the “hip” factor, but Queens now has the “Qool” factor. Fresh Meadows native Fred Cantor is selling black baseball caps that read “Queens = Qool” on the front. The retired lawyer wants to make some profit, of course, but he is also hoping to improve the borough’s image and help a venerable local institution. He donates $2 from every $21.90 cap sale to the Queens Library Foundation. This entrepreneur might be familiar to some Queens enthusiasts because he co-wrote Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America: Fresh Meadows book in 2011. Check out the merchandise here.

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Image Source: http://www.lydiagable.com

QNYC, the Queens Tourism Council and Applebee’s are partnering to raise money for the Rockaways. Tomorrow, December 22, four borough Applebee’s will host Breakfast with Santa, and patrons will get a Polaroid photo with the Man in Red and a buffet including scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage, pancakes, bacon, toast, orange juice and coffee or tea. All the proceeds will go to the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit which responded to Hurricane Sandy by giving homebound residents hot meals and providing emergency food and clothing from a firehouse. Volunteers then delivered emergency supplies door-to-door. Currently, RWA has been clearing streets by removing sand and debris. For years, Applebee’s has hosted Breakfast with Santa events on Staten Island. This is its first venture into Queens. Let’s show our community spirit and love of a good breakfast with a good man.

Breakfast with Santa
Bayside, 213-29 26th Ave.; Rego Park, 95-25 Queens Blvd.; Astoria, 38-01 35th Ave; and Fresh Meadows, 61-48 188th St.
Saturday, December 22
8:30am – 10 am | $10