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Saturday, July 14, 2012 - Page updated at 05:30 a.m.
A guide to free outdoor theater around the Puget Sound region
By Misha Berson
Seattle Times theater critic
Broadway musicals. Romping children's shows. And Shakespeare, Shakespeare, everywhere.
That's the general overview for Seattle outdoor theater in the summer, and this season is no exception.
You can take in an assortment of free shows by GreenStage, Wooden O and other well-practiced troupes this weekend during the annual Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, the annual Volunteer Park tradition that is understandably well-patronized, and worthy of celebration.
But if you can't make it to the fest, most of the troupes on the schedule will be offering additional performances around the Sound, as will other theater companies with a knack for pleasing audiences spread out on blankets, munching picnic fare and keen on soaking up the sun and some culture.
Here's a look at al fresco attractions local groups are staging. (Check websites for up-to-the-minute schedules.)
As the Bard of Avon put it so succinctly, "Play on!"
In the mood for some wit and clowning from the Bard's quill? Skagit Valley Shakespeare Festival (www.shakesnw.org), performing in the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre in Mount Vernon, opens "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this weekend.
"The Taming of the Shrew" also gets an airing in parks from Bainbridge Island to Fall City, courtesy of Greenstage (www.greenstage.org). And "Twelfth Night," anyone? Wooden O (www.seattleshakespeare.org/woodeno), the traveling arm of Seattle Shakespeare Company, brings it to Seattle, Mercer Island and other locales. For those who don't mind some affectionate fun at the Bard's expense, there's also improv this weekend at Volunteer Park: Jet City's "The Lost Folio," patched together from audience suggestions.
If you fancy a Shakespeare text that's historical or tragic-al or romantic-al, you're also in luck. After this weekend, GreenStage takes its version of the rarely produced "King Henry VIII" on the road (starting in Woodland Park on Thursday). Also in circulation beyond this weekend: Wooden O's "The Winter's Tale" as well as Last Leaf's "Macbeth" (www.lastleaf99.org) and "Julius Caesar" (the Skagit Valley fest is also presenting performances of "JC"). Also, the fresh-faced Young Shakespeare Workshop tackles "Othello" at 11 a.m. this Saturday only at the Volunteer Park jamboree.
Farther afield: Ashland's Oregon Shakespeare Festival (www.osfashland.org) offers outdoor mountings of "The Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa" (based on Shakespeare), "As You Like It" and "Henry V," while Vancouver, B.C.'s Bard on the Beach presents its own "Taming of the Shrew" and "Macbeth" (among other shows) in a show tent at Vanier Park (www.bardonthebeach.org).
Both of these are on stage this weekend at Volunteer Park, and be seen into August:
Balagan Theatre (www.balagantheatre.org) uncorks "Sally and Thor Save the World (at Summer Camp)," a new piece that, according to the company, "weaves a variety of myths — from 'The Jungle Book' to Northwest Native and Norse mythologies to Grimm's fairy tales — into a twisted remix of age-old stories."
Theater Schmeater (schmeater.org) returns to an age-old yarn in its own irreverent way, with a musical version of "Hansel and Gretel," described as a "pantomimic adaptation" that tells you "the rest of the story of what happens to the siblings after they stuff the mean old witch into the oven, turn the knob to broil and return to a highly dysfunctional family life."
The sound of show tunes will ring out from valleys and mountaintops, in musical-theater productions from Bremerton to Leavenworth.
At Bremerton's Kitsap Forest Theatre (foresttheater.com), the dancing Midwest teens of the tuner "Footloose" will hold forth starting July 28. And up at the Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater, in Fall City (www.foresttheater.org), the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicalization of "Cinderella" will scatter fairy dust on the younger set starting July 21.
And with Cascade peaks once again filling in for the Swiss Alps, Leavenworth Summer Theater's "The Sound of Music" is under way, with "Annie Get Your Gun" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie" opening later (www.leavenworthsummertheater.org).
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
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