The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival will feature its final performances of the season this weekend in Incline Village | SierraSun.com

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival will feature its final performances of the season this weekend in Incline Village

Few settings compare to gorgeous North Lake Tahoe, and few performances top a classic like the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival production.

This year, the stage was filled with immense talent as a handful of actors brought to life two shows, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "Love's Labour's Lost," which will show its remaining performances through the end of August.

How fortunate we are to be able to experience a night of performance art in one of the most beautiful locations in the country and with such high caliber, truly impressive talent.

Three of the performers in this season's shows were responsible for mastering multiple characters to bring "The Hound of the Baskervilles" to life.

“It’s extraordinary here. Being outdoors in such a resort destination makes for a really nice show, people want to have fun.”

— Doug Miller

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For several nights, the crowd roared with laughter as Lynn Berg, Jeffrey Hawkins, and Doug Miller presented a hilarious Sherlock Holmes whodunit.

The trio discussed their dynamic in performing the layered piece, which they described as a spoof or parody show, which celebrates the mystery genre.

"People can be intimidated by the language during these shows," Hawkins said. "But that's on the actors to tell you the story, to be storytellers and relieve any of those fears."

Jeffrey played Henry Baskervilles in the performance, as well as a few other characters.

The three come from a core group of actors with sister companies that perform Shakespeare Festivals in Boise, Idaho, and the Great Lakes. The core group of talent has been together since 1998 and even before for some performers.

It may be safe to say that Lake Tahoe is the most scenic destination for the company's shows; at least the actors certainly didn't mind the view.

"It's extraordinary here," Miller said.

"Being outdoors in such a resort destination makes for a really nice show, people want to have fun," he added.

Miller played Sherlock, as well as other characters. It's incredible to see not only the stamina of the performers on stage, but their precision in mastering multiple personalities and lines throughout the show.

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival productions often sell out of tickets, and hundreds of guests cozily set up their spot in the audience, bringing blankets, ordering snacks, entrees, cocktails, and beverages from the festival's menu, and truly making a special evening out of the play.

Over the years, the festival has seen an increase in repeat visitors, saying the ratio is roughly 60 guests who've attended the show before, to 40 newcomers. The performances are such a treat that guests usually will see both plays throughout the summertime.

"Here, and anywhere, we want people to come see Shakespeare and walk away feeling as though they 'got it', that they could understand the storyline and engage with it, kind of an 'Oh, that wasn't so hard, I might go see another one' mentality," said Berg, who played Watson during the performance, hilariously.

"Even my mother-in-law was terrified she wouldn't understand it; but we want people to be engaged and not afraid of it, it's our job to make that happen," he added.

When explaining the ultimate goal as a performer of these classic plays, Hawkins recalled a teacher and mentor whom the three actors learned from during their studies.

"He had this philosophy and would say something that sticks with me to this day, 'What we want out of them is to breathe together.' Whether it's a comedy or a tragedy, it's never a bad thing to get 1,000 strangers in one place, just breathing together," Hawkins said.

Miller and Berg nodded in agreement, as the three continued to reflect on the real purpose behind live performance theater as an art form that connects people.

"Inspire literally means breathe," Miller said. "Any production about anything other than pure entertainment should inspire people to look into it further, to want to know more. Getting 1,000 people together to laugh is a beautiful thing."

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.