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Jesse Tyler Ferguson On Shakespeare In The Park: 'I Love The Challenge Of Starting A Play'

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JESSE TYLER FERGUSON SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Jesse Tyler Ferguson arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) | AP

Amid the launch of Tie the Knot's spring collection, his continued work on "Modern Family" and his red-carpet photobombs, it's a wonder Jesse Tyler Ferguson has time to squeeze anything else into his schedule. He describes himself as "mentally overbooked," but that isn't stopping him from taking on yet another project this summer: New York City's beloved Shakespeare in the Park.

Ferguson, 37, will join Hamish Linklater at Central Park's Delacorte Theater from May 28 to June 30 for a rendition of "The Comedy of Errors," a farcical play that revolves around two sets of identical twins separated at birth. This marks one of several Shakespeare in the Park stints Ferguson has done, including 2007's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and 2010's "The Merchant of Venice," the latter of which also starred Linklater and Al Pacino.

Here's what Ferguson had to say about his upcoming turn in "The Comedy of Errors." (Head to HuffPost Celeb for the full Q&A, in with the actor chats about Tie the Knot, what it's like behind the scenes at award shows and who the biggest "Modern Family" diva is.)

I was excited to hear that you’d be returning to Shakespeare in the Park this summer. I know you’ve performed there a few times before. How did that come about this time?

It’ll be my fourth summer back, I think, and my fifth show -- one summer I did both plays. I did my New York debut at 21. It was “On the Town” at the George Gershwin Theatre. New York is my artistic home. That’s where I was given my first big break, and it always feels comfortable to go back and be part of that institution. In the summer, a few summers ago, it was my first time doing Shakespeare professionally, and I was really excited about the challenge. So when I heard they might be doing “The Comedy of Errors” this year, I kind of put in the director’s ear that I’d be interested. I had done “The Merchant of Venice” with Al Pacino. I kept the conversation going, and they found the place for me to do it. I’m really excited because I’ve wanted to do this play for about six years. I still feel like a novice when it comes to classical theater, but I don’t ever want to become comfortable with anything. The greatest creativity comes from being nervous and uncomfortable.

What interested you so much about “The Comedy of Errors”?

I did another version of “Comedy of Errors,” in a tiny role, in 2000 or 2001. It’s a super accessible Shakespeare play. It’s so easy to understand, so funny. It really plays itself; there’s not a whole lot you have to do to it. It’s forgotten about because its one of Shakespeare’s simplest plays and the language is not terribly difficult. People forget about it because it’s not challenging enough. But I love accessible theater, and I love when Shakespeare does it in a way that everyone can understand. It’s easy to do, so I was excited to take another crack at it.

Do you consider theater to be your first love? Is it important to return to those roots?

I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to be onstage. I wanted to do musical theater, and from that I realized I was interested in plays. I never imagined myself on television. I was so lucky to be onstage my whole life. I love TV now, and “Modern Family,” but what draws me back to theater is that initial instinct of wanting to be a theater actor. I love the challenge of starting a play and not stopping until you finish. I love the immediacy of trusting your instincts.

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