Willie is everywhere
School’s out, and the summer Shakespeare season is at hand. Pack your picnic basket, because outdoor productions will be playing up and down the state over the next nine weeks.Locally, there’s the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, a community endeavor associated with the Sacramento City College theater department. This year’s productions are Twelfth Night—directed by Christine Nicholson, set in Havana during the 1950s (playing July 5, 6, 13, 18, 20, 25, 31, and August 2) and The Tempest—directed by David Harris, set in the Bahamas in the 1500s (playing July 11, 12, 17, 19, 24, 27 and August 1, 3). Performances are at 8 p.m. in the William A. Carroll Amphitheatre in William Land Park. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. (arrive early for choice spots on the grass in front of the stage). Individual tickets $18 general, $15 students/seniors (children ages 6-12 free, no children under 6); www.sacramentoshakespeare.net, (916) 558-2228. Bring “low-slung” lawn chairs and a sweater (since the breeze turns cool after 9 p.m.).
Professional festivals within driving range include:
California Shakespeare Theatre, held in the sometimes cool-and-foggy Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda, is already underway, led by highly regarded artistic director Jonathan Moscone (now in his eighth season). The season’s first production, Shakespeare’s exotic romance Pericles, closes Sunday, June 22. Oscar Wilde’s provocative comedy An Ideal Husband plays July 2-27, followed by Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya (August 6-31) and Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night runs from September 10-October 5; $20-$62, www.calshakes.org.
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is held in Sand Harbor State Park (on the Nevada shore), which has an excellent beach. There’s new leadership this year, including artistic director Jan Powell. The season runs July 9-August 17, featuring the bloody tragedy Richard III (not commonly staged in summer), balanced by the oft-produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream, alternating on Tuesdays-Sundays; also playing is an original musical called Cambio (Mondays only), retelling The Hunchback of Notre Dame in modern-day Havana. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Bring a sweater; $22-$67, www.laketahoeshakespeare.com.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz continues with the new artistic director Marco Barricelli, who has picked one well-known tragedy (Romeo and Juliet), as well as the least frequently produced of Shakespeare’s comedies (All’s Well That Ends Well) and two modern plays: Bach at Leipzig by rising young playwright Itamar Moses, and Lanford Wilson’s Burn This. The festival runs July 15-August 31 at UC Santa Cruz, with the Shakespeare shows out in the redwoods (evenings get cool) and the others indoors; $25-$44, www.shakespearesantacruz.org.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Yes, it’s a long drive to Ashland, but OSF is the oldest, largest and longest West Coast festival, running virtually year-round. There’s a new artistic director, Bill Rauch. The plays include Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus), American classics (Our Town, A View From the Bridge, Fences), a play drawn from classical India (The Clay Cart) and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabbler by Tony winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q); $20-$81, www.orshakes.org.