Shakespeare festival’s in-house theater draws praise | SierraSun.com

Shakespeare festival’s in-house theater draws praise

Kyle Magin
Sun News Service

INCLINE VILLAGE ” As this year’s Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival season winds down, board members for the annual summer-long series are pleased with the festival’s inaugural year using an in-house creative branch.

Previously, the festival contracted with the now-bankrupt Foothill Theatre Company for directors, set design, actors and wardrobe in addition to many other creative responsibilities.

Now, though, all of those responsibilities are handled in-house, and according to Board Chairwoman Jennifer Patterson, the festival is in good hands.

“The quality of the shows is excellent, and the acting talent is far beyond the talent that we’ve ever seen on that stage before,” Patterson said. “We’ve been able to get a nice variety of actors, and I think that has enhanced the performances.”

Patterson did say the change to an in-house creative wing has come with its growing pains, including difficulties with staging the musical “Cambio” on Sand Harbor’s stage.

“Cambio” is a musical adaptation of the literary classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” set in modern-day Havana. The other shows this season’s series include “Richard III” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” both plays, not musicals.

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Fellow board member Michael Chamberlain also expressed some reservations about “Cambio” early in its run this summer, but said overall he has been very impressed with the shows.

The Festival will probably stay away from musicals such as “Cambio” in the future, Patterson said, because of the difficulty of staging a musical, rather than a play, in a venue as large as Sand Harbor.

“I think running into some challenges is something that happens any time you take over a huge endeavor,” she said. “The directors had to learn an entirely new venue and that’s a challenge as well.”

Still, Patterson said any hiccups the festival experienced with its first-year creative wing were nothing the Festival couldn’t handle.

Board member Vicki McGowen said that the learning curve, combined with the economy, may have had an adverse effect on ticket sales at the festival this summer. But, she echoed Patterson’s evaluation of the acting talent.

Board members were unsure of numbers regarding this season’s ticket sales.

McGowen said the festival had discussed adding an in-house creative company in the past, but needed to prepare for the move financially.

“The talent this year is remarkably better than in previous years,” McGowen said. “We are very fortunate to be setting some foundations now for upcoming years.”

Chamberlain especially praised “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which will be playing on an extended calendar tonight and Thursday.

The extended calendar is a first in the Festival’s 36-year history, according to a July press release.

“We’ve seen a tremendous audience response to ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and its modern interpretation and ‘Cambio’ due to its impressive and moving original musical score, that adding the additional performances is a natural extension to our successful season,” said Catherine Atack, executive director for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, in the release.

The festival also recently canceled its annual “A Midsummer NightMARE,” which was a colorfully-lit and choreographed show performed in both 2006 and 2007.

The show’s producers, who are not affiliated with Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, canceled the show for unknown reasons, said festival spokeswoman Kristen Power.