Shakespeare in Sactown (and beyond)

The summer Shakespeare season gets underway, with festivals close to home and further afield

Kristi Webb (left) as Viola and Ian Hopps as Feste in Davis Shakespeare Festival’s production of <i>Twelfth Night</i>.

Kristi Webb (left) as Viola and Ian Hopps as Feste in Davis Shakespeare Festival’s production of Twelfth Night.

Photo courtesy of Davis Shakespeare Festival

The Davis Shakespeare Festival ( runs June 25 through August 2, with two shows in repertory: the durable Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night (in this case set in southern Italy around 1950), and the 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on the novel that Charles Dickens left unfinished when he died. Since Dickens did not provide an ending, the audience will get to vote nightly and pick one of several endings. The cast includes two professional actors (Matt K. Miller and Matt Edwards) and others with conservatory training. Both shows involve a bit of gender-bending, with the leading actress in a “pants role,” passing herself off as a man in order to advance her cause.

Performances are indoors at the Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 West 14th Street in Davis. Performances are 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays (where you can see both productions on the same day), and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $15-$25 per show or $25-$45 for a two-show pass.

The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival ( runs July 3 through August 2, with two shows in repertory. As You Like It is a pastoral comedy featuring the plucky Rosalind (who passes herself off as a young man). Romeo and Juliet (as everyone knows) is a tragedy about teenage lovers. The shows feature community actors from the Sacramento area. Romeo and Juliet will be staged with an all-male cast (as was done in Shakespeare’s time) and Elizabethan costumes. On the other hand, As You Like It will have an all-female cast, and will be set in Atlantic City.

Performances are outdoors in the William Carroll Amphitheatre in Sacramento’s William Land Park, located at 3800 South Land Park Drive. Romeo and Juliet plays July 3, 5, 12, 17, 19, 25, 30 and August 1. As You Like It plays July 10, 11, 16, 18, 24, 26, 31 and August 2. Performances start at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Gates open early for picnics. Seating is unreserved, so arrive early for the best spots. Bring insect repellant and a sweater (the venue cools after 9 p.m.) Tickets are $15-$18.

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival ( runs July 10through August 23. Romeo and Juliet will alternate with The Fantasticks, a small musical that ran in New York for more than 17,000 performances. Tahoe Shakespeare typically features about 10 professional actors. Both shows deal with rebellious teenagers from opposing families; they fall in love with each other (which is not what their domineering parents had planned). It all happens outdoors in a lakeside amphitheater at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, 2005 Nevada Highway 28. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets cost $15-$89, with two-show plans available.

California Shakespeare Theatre (, a professional Bay Area company, stages Life is a Dream (a Spanish classic) from July 8 through August 2, The Mystery of Irma Vep from August 12 through September 6, and King Lear from September 16 through October 11. Performances are outdoors in the often-foggy Bruns Memorial Amphitheatre, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way in Orinda—so take a jacket. Ticket prices and performance times vary.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare (, a professional festival, runs June 30 through August 30, with Macbeth and Much Ado about Nothing. Performances are outdoors in a redwood glen on the UC Santa Cruz campus, 1156 High Street in Santa Cruz. Single tickets are $40-$52 with discounts for seniors, students and subscribers.

For those looking for an epic road trip, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (, the granddaddy of them all, continues through November 1 in Ashland. There are 11 shows this year, including Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles and Antony and Cleopatra. Head to the festival’s website for tickets, showtimes and more information.