Metro-East Living

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ weaves its magic at Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park

Justin Blanchard (Lysander) and Pete Winfrey (Demetrius) carry Cassia Thompson (Hermia) across the stage as Rachel Christopher (Helena) looks on. during a rehearsal for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2016 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Justin Blanchard (Lysander) and Pete Winfrey (Demetrius) carry Cassia Thompson (Hermia) across the stage as Rachel Christopher (Helena) looks on. during a rehearsal for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2016 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” znizami@bnd.com

Expect to see fairies, magic flowers and mistaken identity as The Shakespeare Festival in St. Louis puts on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” William Shakespeare’s classic tale of enchanted love in the woods. It runs through June 26 in Forest Park.

This marks the company’s 16th season of free, outdoor, professional theatre in the park. Performances are nightly, except Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. Bring your blanket or stadium chair.

While admission is free, ticketed, reserved seating is also available online and the evening of the performances in the park. Shakespeare Glen is located just off Fine Arts Drive on the east side of Art Hill between the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum.

Renowned New York actress and Olivier nominee Nancy Anderson plays the role of Titania in the production. Artistic and Executive Director Rick Dildine directs. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was last produced by the Festival in 2002.

“Between the transcendent backdrop of Forest Park and the dreamlike quality of the set, part of which will extend into the seating area, this year’s audiences can expect a very visual and magical experience at every performance,” Dildine said.

Joining Anderson will be Broadway performer Timothy Carter in the role of Oberon. Festival veterans include Whit Reichert (Egeus), a Belleville native, and Jerry Vogel (Starveling/Moonshine), both of whom appeared in the 2002 Midsummer production. As well, another metro-easter, Ben Watts, portrays both Philostrate and Moth. Whit and Ben are Belleville West alums.

There will be an interpreted mainstage performance (ASL) for the deaf on June 16.

Get there early!

As in previous years, the Festival includes a nightly pre-performance Green Show at 6:30 p.m., which will showcase some of the city’s best musical talent. The Green Show will keep your party entertained from the time you set up your chairs until the play begins. It is spread across two stages, in addition to roving acts throughout the Glen.

Also, come early to see the “Mini Play,” a 20-minute play adaptation that introduces the audience to the characters and plot. See it at 6:30 and 7:25 p.m. on the Lobby Stage. It is performed by members of the Shakespeare Squadron, the Festival’s training program for young actors.

Free backstage tours begin at 6:30 p.m. and last approximately 20 minutes. Get a behind-the-scenes view of the Festival, chat with stage crew, get a peek in the sound/lighting tent and maybe visit with an actor preparing for the performance. School and community groups can arrange private tours; email rwolownik@sfstl.com to set up your group tour.

In the past 16 years, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has attracted more than 670,000 people to its annual free performances In the Park. For more information, please visit http://www.sfstl.com (then click on Plan Your Visit) or call 314-531-9800.

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