Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) brings Shakespeare and the classics to life in the Otto M. Budig Theater, but each summer they delight audiences around the area with their annual park tour. The free Shakespeare in the Park performances have become tradition, allowing more than 10,000 patrons to enjoy plays in 40+ parks in the tri-state area. The park settings provide a unique experience with the plays reminiscent of the original open-air theater performances.
The 2022 production is an 80-minute creative adaptation of Shakespeare’s wild and witty rom-com, Twelfth Night. Audiences are in for an enjoyable evening as a cast of eight unforgettable characters on the coast of Illyria navigate mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and love triangles. It’s a heartfelt story where everyone loves someone—but the right person doesn’t love them back. The play features physical comedy, wordplay, a wisecracking fool, and cross-dressing silliness. To quote the play itself, “why, this is very midsummer madness."
For the cast and crew, creating a memorable and entertaining experience for the audience is serious business. Director and fan favorite Crystian Wiltshire gave a behind-the-scenes look at what leads up to performances. “Preparation for this run has been going on for months between actors, designers, and the director. The actors will rehearse for roughly 30 hours each week, figuring out fights, dances, comedic bits, and the best way to stage the play.”
Crystian won’t be the only familiar face on stage. He’s excited about the cast, pointing out, “we have a mix of actors well known to this artistic community who worked for the company in previous years. Some are working with CSC for the first time. We even have actors from out of town who are excited to share their gift with us.”
Bringing a production to so many different parks means anything can happen. Crystian seems to welcome the challenges. He mused, “That can be part of the fun. We sometimes start a show with a sparse crowd, and double or triple our audience by the end of the night when people nearby hear the show and walk over to see what’s going on.”
Crystian is also looking forward to unveiling the fresh look and feel of this year’s park performances with upgraded production elements. “Our sound, lighting, and scenic designers get to wow attendees with a set unlike our summer park audiences have ever seen.”
The park tour travels all over the area, with cities including Milford, Lebanon, Centerville, and Oxford, to name only a few. CSC will perform in Cottell Park in Deerfield Township on Thursday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Arts Alliance summer Performing Arts Series.
Grab your blankets and lawn chairs and join-eth the fun! Free shows start mid-July and run all summer long, ending around Labor Day. No RSVP or ticket required, but arrive early for the best seating. Contact individual parks and venues for weather, food and drink related questions and view the full schedule at CincyShakes.com/Event/Park.