Shakespeare Festival St Louis 2016

Saturday was a pretty wonderful day, starting with a trip to the Saint Louis Art Museum, and ending with the Shakespeare Festival St Louis presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which is my favorite Shakespeare play. Since I have quite a bit to write about, I’ll start with the Shakespeare Festival St Louis.

I’ve never gotten to attend a Shakespeare in the park type event even though I’ve really wanted to, so this was my first exposure to this type of event. And I have to say – I cannot wait to go back!

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You can pay for a reserved seat, bring a blanket, or go with our option and bring yourself a chair to sit in. We got there around 3 hours before the start of the main event – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – so we had a great chance to pick a shaded spot with a wonderful view.

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The stage was stunning. Pictures don’t even begin to do it justice. My best friend, Brittaney, and I were discussing our need to have this as a room in our house. I wanted to get up onto the stage sooo badly.

A little while before the show started, we did, however, get to venture a bit behind the scenes with a very knowledgeable guide. We got to see the back of the stage, the prop pod, the pods were everyone gets ready, and learn some great info! Brittaney and I are kind of theater nerds: we’ve acted, been set crew, and watched our fair share of performances. Getting this special bit extra really was wonderful!

The cast consisted of 22 actors, all but 6 were from St Louis, and four of the performers had actually been on Broadway. All of the cast members were can sing and/or play an instrument. This was definitely considered one of the most accomplished casts they’ve had in the 15 years of the Shakespeare festival. There was also a team of 11 designers and team members, and over 300+ volunteers each year that all work to make the event happen.

This was also their tallest set so far, with a very intriguing design that made for some surprising entrances and exits. The stage gave a very dream-like feeling, and extended out with a platform out in front of the audience that the cast could use as well along with the aisles, making it a very immersive experience.

 

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I did my fair bit of wandering to either grab treats for us or to fill water bottles or find programs, but I did make a trip or two into the merch tent, where I wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS. Unfortunately, my Orlando saving plan won out over the desire to buy a bunch of stuff. But if I get the chance to come see the show again, I’m definitely getting something. A poster from the play or that Shakespeare insult mug. I HAVE MY EYES ON YOU, MERCH! All else fails, I have better planning for next year. And this won’t be the only thing I plan better.

While we were prepared with our chairs, we were not prepared (and knew we were not) for food and drink matters. Considering we hadn’t spent much all day (free Art Museum, free Shakespeare, free Parking…) buying food wasn’t a huge deal. More expensive than I’d like for what we got, but it was to be expected. However, Brittaney and I have a game plan for next year: cooler of water and soda, blankets, and P’Sghetti’s  sandwiches. By the way, if you’re ever in St Louis – get some P’Sghetti’s. That’s one of our favorite places to grab food when we’re up north.

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Now, on to the main event itself: the performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have to go into this with some warning. As stated before, this is my FAVORITE of Shakespeare’s work. When the local college put it on, I went every night. I have many of Puck’s lines memorized. So how did this hold up?

I. LOVED. IT.

This was definitely one of my favorite takes on the play. I adored the set design, costumes, songs, acting – EVERYTHING. Definitely some of the best of the best moments:

  • The actor playing Bottom was HILARIOUS.
  • As a huge Puck fangirl, I loved the performace, and the delightful surprises involved with it. If you get the chance to see it for yourself, you’ll see what I mean!
  • The opening of Act II was hauntingly beautiful.
  • I thought Brittaney and I were going to die laughing during the play within the play.

Over all, this was phenomenal, and made me kick myself for all the years I’ve missed of this wonderful event! I have hopes to go again before it’s all over with, and definitely want to come again next year.

You can check out the Shakespeare Festival yourself in the glen at Forest Park, just across from the Art Museum! The even runs from June 1st – 26th, except for Tuesdays. Have a free and wonderful night out, get a few laughs, and if you enjoy yourself – donate to help Free Will – and keep free Shakespeare in the park. We all donated, and so should you! To learn more about Shakespeare Festival St Louis, go here.

Have you been to the Skakespeare Festival yet? If not, you should definitely check it out! Leave me a comment below if you have any questions, comments, opinions, etc!

~Angel

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