Louisville’s Shakespeare in the Park

Much Ado About Nothing actor poses on stage before the performance begins.

Louisville is known for pretty much three things: bourbon, bats and horse racing. This article isn’t about any of those things. Summer in Louisville (if you can stand the heat and humidity) can be great, especially with free events like Louisville’s Shakespeare in the Park.

Starting in late July, actors from across the country put on a couple of shows from William Shakespeare’s repertoire in Louisville’s Central Park. If you want to fork over $10, you can have a valet park your vehicle for you. However, you should be able to find street parking nearby or take a TARC bus to Central Park.

I chose to park just north of Magnolia on Second Street. In 10 minutes, I was in the middle of Central Park finding a seat in the amphitheater. The crew was just beginning to set up the props and electronic equipment for the show. I found a seat close to the front row with little difficulty (You can pay $20 for a seat closer to the stage, which also pays for a server).

The Sunfish Tumblers perform folk music before Much Ado About Nothing.

Within minutes, three teenage brothers who call themselves the Sunfish Tumblers went under a tarp next to the stage, opened their guitar and bass cases and started filling the summer air with folk music. The ambience was nice, and it gave the summer night a Kentucky feeling before the show started.

That’s when the audience was transported to 19th Century western America (Director Jane Page chose to set the play here instead of traditional Italy) to follow the love stories of two couples and the comic relief to stop the plot of Don John. The play was entertaining, and I enjoyed the audience participation. About an hour into the performance, the actor who played Benedict ran into the audience to swipe drinks and sign autographs. During the intermission, the cast came into the audience to solicit donations and pose for pictures with their fans.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the play. About 30 minutes after intermission, rain began to fall and lightning flashed in the sky. That’s when the production came to a halt while the audience huddled under the tarps at the back of the¬†amphitheater. Luckily, it didn’t rain that long, and I was able to make it back to my car without getting soaked.

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