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The Bard is back: Shakespeare Festival celebrates 38th year

Kevin MacMillan
Nevada Appeal News Service

INCLINE VILLAGE – Actors have begun rehearsing and production crews are constantly creating as the 2010 Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival nears – and a recent $75,000 loan will ensure that William Shakespeare’s full creative mind will be on display this summer on the shores of Sand Harbor.

The loan from the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau puts the festival on a “much stronger financial footing” heading into this summer’s production, said Terry Jones, chair of the festival’s board of directors and member of the visitor’s bureau.

“We’ve had such a tough couple years – all our cash comes in during the season, so this loan will help us out before the season begins,” Jones said. “It’ll be kind of a bridge, to help us along before we get going.”

The bureau holds a long history with Shakespeare, as it kept the festival running in 1992 when the North Tahoe Fine Arts Council folded, eventually sealing a major deal in 1995 to move production to Sand Harbor.

In past years, the festival usually featured performances of a pair of Shakespeare classics, such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Taming of the Shrew” in 2007 and “Macbeth” and “The Comedy of Errors” in 2005.

However, economic woes since 2007 that included dipping attendance, staff layoffs and the loss of major corporate sponsors and philanthropic donors were the main reasons behind the decision to produce “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” for 2010, a compilation of 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed by three actors in two hours.

“One of the things most important to us is putting our financial house back in order,” said Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Charlie Fee. “We’re not in bad shape. Compared to some theater companies out there, Lake Tahoe is really strong. But our decision to do the one play this summer was really financially driven. We’ve lost sponsors, had a sales decline – it’s not hideous, but it’s the reason why we needed to reduce overall costs of the festival this year.”

Helping the economic transition, Fee said, was the naming in May of Bob Taylor as the festival’s new executive director, replacing Catherine Atack, who spent the past seven years there before moving on this summer to Los Angeles.

The internal hire – Taylor has worked with the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland since 2000, and this year the Lake Tahoe festival partnered with Great Lakes, along with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, Idaho – was helpful, Fee said, because the partnership allows the three festivals to share staff and productions and lower total costs.

The $75,000 loan is fairly large for the visitor’s bureau, said Bill Hoffman, executive director of the Incline Village-based center, as the organization generally deals with smaller grants to various special events in the region.

“Shakespeare is our signature event in Incline Village, and these events really help grow our tourism infrastructure,” Hoffman said. “And you can’t have a sustainable infrastructure if you don’t have a product to sell, so it’s important that the Shakespeare festival stays healthy.”

Learn more about the festival at http://www.laketahoeshakes

peare.com.

BOX 1:

The 2010 Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

The 38th annual festival, July 9 through Aug. 22, will present 32 performances of one Shakespeare play, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” a compilation of 37 plays performed by three actors in two hours.

Besides “The Complete Works,” the 2010 festival will also present musical acts Monday and Friday evenings.

Ticket prices for “The Complete Works” range from $22 to $77 for adults. Tickets for the music series range from $18 to $55 for adults. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and each performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Complete information about tickets and special deals is at http://www.laketahoeshakespeare.com/tickets, or call (775) 298-0163.

Performance Schedule

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged): July 9-11, 13-15, 17-18, 20-22, 24-25, 27-29, 31, August 1, 3-5, 7-8, 10-12,14-15, 17-18 and 21-22.

Other performances:

July 12: Reno Philharmonic (Broadway on the Beach)

July 16: Sugaray (Blues and soul)

July 19: Cecilia Noel (Latin salsera)

July 23: Mitch Forman and the All Stars (Jazz)

July 26: Cafe R&B (Blues)

July 30: Mrs. Robinson (Hits from the ’60s and ’70s)

Aug. 2: Paul Thorn (Southern rock)

Aug. 6: Royal Crown Review (Swing)

Aug. 9: Sugaray (Blues and soul)

Aug. 13: Cecilia Noel (Latin salsera)

Aug. 16: Karen Briggs (violinist)

Aug. 20: Orgone (Funk, soul and Afro-beats)

BOX 2:

Young Shakespeare

The D.G. Menchetti Young Shakespeare are free performances for the younger audience, presented by the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Nevada Shakespeare Company. This year’s program presents an interactive, one-hour interpretation of “The Temptest” set in contemporary times. Tickets are available at http://www.laketahoeshakespeare.com. Call (775) 298-0158 if you are ordering tickets for a group of 10 or more.

Performance Schedule

July 11: 2 p.m. at Wingfield Park, Reno

July 13-15: 10 a.m. at Sand Harbor State Park, Incline Village

July 16: 10 a.m. at Gebhardt Amphitheater, Truckee

July 17: 1:30 p.m. at Centennial Stage at Oats Park, Fallon

July 19: 11 a.m. at Legends at Sparks Marina, Center Court

July 20-22: 10 a.m. at Sand Harbor State Park, Incline Village

July 25: 6:30 p.m. at Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno

July 26: 10 a.m. at CVIC Hall, Minden

July 28: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Tahoe Tallac at Valhalla, South Lake Tahoe

July 30: 9:30 a.m. at Hawkins Amphitheater, Bartley Ranch, Reno

Aug. 2: 10 a.m. at Hawkins Amphitheater, Bartley Ranch, Reno

BOX 3: OPTIONAL

History of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival began in 1972 at Sugar Pine Point State Park on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The New Shakespeare Company presented eight performances during its inaugural season. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival continued there for four years, until it ran into scheduling conflicts over the use of Sugar Pine Point’s Ehrman Mansion.

In 1976, the company and Nevada State Parks agreed to hold the performances at Sand Harbor. It’s estimated more than 500 people attended each of 12 performances during the ’76 season.

At first, festival was managed by the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park before the North Tahoe Fine Arts Council took over in 1982. In 1992, the North Tahoe Fine Arts Council folded, and the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau was selected to manage the festival.

In 1995, a long-term contract was signed with the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, a nonprofit group dedicated to managing and improving the performances at Sand Harbor. As part of the agreement, LTSF, through private funding, constructed the Warren Edward Trepp Stage at nearly $2 million, and it was dedicated at the start of the 2000 season.

In May of 1999, the Parasol Foundation in Incline Village was awarded a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation through the Community Services Center Program, allowing festival operations to be housed at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Non-Profit Center in Incline.

In 2007, the festival ended its 11-year relationship with Nevada City-based Foothill Theater Company and created its own theater company to oversee the artistic design of the shows.