Shakespeare visits parks in summer series

By Andrew Coan

Arizona Summer Wildcat

It's that time of year again.

Temperatures are hovering in the triple-digit range, the swamp cooler just isn't cutting it, and you've exhausted all of the entertainment venues that Tucson has to offer.

There is still hope however. The folks at Tucson Parks and Recreation's Community Theater are starting up their annual "Shakespeare Under the Stars" program at DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center a chance to escape the confines of your home and take in a classic play under the great Tucson Summer sky.

The first play of the Summer is "The Merry Wives of Windsor." First run in 1602, the comedy deals with Sir John Falstaff's farcical attempts to woo two ladies at once. The ladies retaliate by playing numerous tricks and practical jokes on Falstaff. Even though Falstaff is the butt of all of these jokes, he still maintains his dignity.

The show is directed by James Gooden, formerly of The Gaslight Theater and current artistic director of The Live Theater Workshop.

Gooden says the history of "Shakespeare in the Park" is as simple as the concept.

"Tucson Parks and Recreation picked up the tradition after The Invisible Theater stopped," Gooden said.

"(Shakespeare in the Park) is a nice marriage of the event, place and time. Seeing a good comedic play is a good way to spend a Summer evening"

And this year's offering should show no break from it's history of well received productions.

"It's a fabulous production and I'm very happy with it. The whole company has embraced the mood of the play, and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Gooden says the next production for the summer series will be a teenage-cast play at Himmel Park in August.

"The Merry Wives of Windsor" runs June 28 through July 2 at Reid Park's DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. Shows are 8 p.m. daily. Admission is free.

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