Bring a bathing suit to tame the shrew
It’s summer, which means theater goes into festival mode, with more shows outdoors—and more Shakespeare.
One series is already underway. The California Shakespeare Theater—located in the East Bay Hills in Orinda, near the Caldecott Tunnel—is presenting Richard III (one of Shakespeare’s great scheming villains) through June 24. Next up is Man and Superman (George Bernard Shaw’s take on the battle of the sexes, July 4-29), then The Triumph of Love (a French comedy from the 1700s, August 8-September 2), and King Lear (the Bard’s autumnal tragedy, September 19-October 14). “Cal Shakes” draws many of the best Bay Area Shakespearean actors: www.calshakes.org; (510) 548-9666; $32-$60, with $15 “young and cheap” tickets for age 30 (and under); Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday matinees.
The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival—the summer expression of City Theatre, from Sacramento City College—will have two shows featuring community actors: a kabuki-influenced Macbeth (June 29, 30; July 13, 15, 20, 22, 27; August 2, 4), and a Moulin Rouge-style Comedy of Errors (July 6, 7, 14, 19, 21, 26). The setting is Sacramento’s William Land Park. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for picnics, with the show at 8 p.m.: www.sacramentoshakespeare.net, (916) 558-2228, $10-$15.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz has a short, intense season from July 17-September 2, with four plays in repertory. Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest alternate with two classics by Irishmen: J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (on the 100th anniversary of the play’s premiere) and Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (directed by Peter Lichtenfels, UC Davis). This will be the final season for artistic director Paul Whitworth, who came up with the Royal Shakespeare Company and put this festival (held at UC Santa Cruz) on the map. Whitworth appears in Playboy and Endgame: www.shakespearesantacruz.org, (831) 459-2159, $26-$40.
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, at Sand Harbor on the Nevada shore, runs July 12-August 19. Tuesdays through Sundays, Romeo and Juliet alternates with The Taming of the Shrew. Mondays are a change of pace, with Greater Tuna (a hammy Texas comedy). The shows are mounted by Foothill Theatre Company, a local favorite, using many Equity actors. Take a swimsuit and enjoy the beach before the show starts at 7:30 p.m: www.laketahoeshakespeare.com, (800) 74-SHOWS, $22-$72.
And up past Mount Shasta, there’s the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (through October), with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It, Tom Stoppard’s On The Razzle, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Lisa Loomer’s Distracted and many more: www.osfashland.org.
Whichever summer shows you see, take a blanket and jacket. The amphitheaters in Orinda and Santa Cruz can be foggy, and Tahoe evenings turn cool. Even Sacramento Shakespeare’s performances can feel nippy after 10 p.m., when the Delta breeze starts blowing.