Discount Bard

Shakespeare’s come over the mountain, and the tickets are reasonable!It happens every year in late August. The two shows featured at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (which are mounted by the Foothill Theatre Company of Nevada City under contract) decamp to a conifer-scented amphitheater at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. There, the shows continue for a few more weekends as the Sierra Shakespeare Festival, under Foothill’s sponsorship. They’re precisely the same shows, with the same professional actors, costumes and sets, but with lower ticket prices ($11-$23). Plus, they’re close enough to Sacramento that you can return home before midnight. The festival’s September dates also draw a “back to school” audience of parents and teens that you don’t experience in July.

This year, for the first time in several years, Sierra Shakespeare is featuring a tragedy, Macbeth, which this writer saw again last Friday. Everyone’s had a month to settle into the roles, so the show is now tighter, and the pacing is smoother. Sierra Shakespeare also is offering The Comedy of Errors. (See capsule reviews of both.)

Scott Gilbert, the new artistic director of the Foothill Theatre Company, said this season’s mix is a portent of things to come. “We’re moving away from just doing comedies. We’re going to add tragedies—like Macbeth—and the best of the Bard’s works from all categories,” Gilbert promised.