Puck among the banana slugs
The Shakespeare Santa Cruz Festival—which marks its 20th anniversary this summer—is almost an alumni gathering for former members of the Sacramento Theater Company who’ve gone on to bigger things. Actor Gary Armagnac is prominent in both the bloody tragedy Macbeth and Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 comedy She Stoops to Conquer. Sacramento composer Gregg Coffin—who wrote the wickedly funny songs in STC’s Christmas show Cinderella—did moody, contemporary incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That play is directed by Tim Ocel, who staged more than a dozen shows at STC; Ocel charts a bittersweet course and comes up with a Puck who’s more of a punk than a pixie. Costumer B. Modern and actor Remy Sandri have also worked for STC. At 20, the Santa Cruz festival ranks as the best of Northern California’s many summer Shakespeare events. And once you’ve seen the shows, you can check out a nearby redwood park or go to the beach. The plays are staged at the UC Santa Cruz Theater Arts Center through September 2, $27-$33. (831) 459-2159 or www.shakespearesantacruz.org.