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Originally published July 11, 2014 at 6:15 AM | Page modified July 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM

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Outdoor theater abounds in Northwest parks

Parks around the Puget Sound and beyond are hosting a summer season of (mostly free) Shakespeare and other shows. It starts with a free theater fest this weekend at Volunteer Park.

Seattle Times theater critic

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Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival 2014

The 2014 summer outdoor theater season unofficially begins this weekend, July 12-13, with a sunny opportunity for free binge-watching at staging areas within Seattle’s Volunteer Park. This annual fest (the popular brainchild of the hardy troupe GreenStage) hosts more than a dozen performances by eight companies, including Last Leaf Productions, Wooden O, GreenStage, Theater Schmeater, Jet City Improv, The Young Shakespeare Workshop, Teatro Minestrone and Shakespeare Northwest. Starting times for the shows (which run one or two hours each) are: Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Note: there’s not much shade, so hats and sunscreen are advisable.) For a full schedule and further details go to:


Grab your sun hat and pack your picnic: from Seattle to Snohomish, Mount Vernon to Monroe, Bainbridge Island to Burien, the hills (and valleys) are alive this summer with the sounds of Shakespeare and musical comedies.

The outdoor-theater season in this region just keeps extending its reach. And if you look over the schedules of the following troupes of strolling players, you are very likely to find at least one company presenting a show al fresco in your neck of the woods.

Many of these productions are free — but remember that the actors are declaiming verse and belting showtunes for their supper, so be generous when the hat is passed. And while you should use discretion before plunking a toddler on the grass for “Othello,” what is offered is mainly family fare, including new G-rated romps by 14/48’s Teatro Minestrone and Theater Schmeater.

Also, it’s a special year for GreenStage, which celebrates its 25th year in the parks by completing “the cycle” — that is, producing Shakespeare’s entire canon of some three dozen plays.

What better way to introduce young folk to live theater than with a trip to the park? Play on!

Seattle and Environs

Wooden O Theatre: William Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “Julius Caesar.” Through Aug. 10 at parks in Seattle, Mercer Island, Orcas Island and other locales. Free (

GreenStage: Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “Othello,” and Backyard Bard mini-versions of “The Comedy of Errors” and “All’s Well That Ends Well.” Through Aug. 16 at parks in Seattle, Snohomish, Burien and other locales. Free (

Teatro Minestrone: “Around the World in 8 Stories” by Brendan Healy. Saturday-Aug. 3 at parks in Seattle, Vashon Island, Burien and Chimacum. Free (

Theater Schmeater: “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?” by Tom McCabe. Through July 20 at Volunteer Park, Seattle. Free (

Last Leaf Productions: Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Richard III.” Through July 27 at parks in Seattle, Monroe, Woodinville, Arlington and other locales. Free (

Western Washington

Skagit River Shakespeare Festival (Mount Vernon): Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Macbeth.” Through Aug. 16 at Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre, Mount Vernon. $10-$12 (

Key City Public Theatre (Port Townsend): “The Trojan Women” by Euripides (Aug. 1-10) ; and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield (Aug. 15-24) at Chetzemoka Park, Port Townsend. Free (

Island Shakespeare Festival (Langley): Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Richard III.” July 26-Sept. 7 behind Langley Middle School, Langley, Whidbey Island. Free (

Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater (Fall City): “Fiddler on the Roof.” July 19-Aug. 24 at Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater, Fall City. $10-$20 (

Mountaineers Players (Bremerton): “Annie.” July 26-Aug. 17 at Kitsap Forest Theater, Bremerton. $10-$20 (

Leavenworth Summer Theater (Leavenworth): “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Through Aug. 31 at Leavenworth Ski Hill Amphitheater; Hatchery Park; and Festhalle Theater. $14-$30 (

Greater Northwest

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Ore.): Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “Comedy of Errors” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” as well as the world premieres of Robert Schenkkan’s “The Great Society,” Stew’s “Family Album,” and an adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” and other shows. Through Nov. 2. Call for ticket prices (800-219-8161 or

Bard on the Beach (Vancouver, B.C.): Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Tempest” and “Cymbeline,” and Bill Cain’s “Equivocation.” Through Sept. 20 at Vanier Park, Vancouver, B.C. Call for ticket prices (604-739-0559 or

Misha Berson:

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