The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is a favorite Treasure Valley destination in the summer. Nestled in its park-like reserve on the edge of the Boise River, the amphitheater is home to four months of engaging theater each summer.
Heres a season primer from what youll see to what to bring and what goes in to making it all happen.
With 92 performances and more than 40 actors in the company, this is the largest season in the festivals 36-year history.
This season, youll see more new faces on and back stage than ever before, along with many returning artists. This is a debut season for most of the cast of Romeo and Juliet, including Christian Durso and Betsy Mugavero in the title roles, and much of the cast of The Imaginary Invalid, including Kimbre Lancaster. Shes a University of Idaho grad who works in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival company.
The season also will be shaped by new creative teams such as Red Bull Theaters artistic director Jesse Berger, who brings his team Adam Wernick (composer), Brandon Wolcott (sound) and David M. Barber (sets) for The Winters Tale.
And there are three first-time plays: Agatha Christies The Mousetrap, Molieres The Imaginary Invalid and Michael Frayns Noises Off.
The plays run in repertory through the bulk of the summer.
ISF producing artistic director Charlie Fee restages his production of Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet. He transplants Shakespeares greatest romantic tragedy to a bombed-out Verona circa 1921. Fee directed R&J his first season as artistic director in 1992. Dates: June 1-June 30.
Director Drew Barr returns for his 10th season with ISF to put his thoughtful stamp on Agatha Christies classic whodunit The Mousetrap. Its filled with twists and turns as a group of strangers stranded during a snowstorm find a murderer in their midst. Dates: June 8-July 27.
Director Tracy Young returns after her ISF debut with her wonderfully wacky 1980s Shrew last season. She brings her OSF creative team with her for Molieres comedy The Imaginary Invalid (adapted by Oded Gross and Young) transformed into a musical by composer Paul James Prendergast. Dates: July 6-Aug. 24.
Red Bull Theaters artistic director Jesse Berger makes his ISF debut with Shakespeares comic romance The Winters Tale. Its filled with kings, queens, thieves, clowns, shepherds and one hungry bear. Dates: Aug. 3-26.
The season closes with Michael Frayns farce Noises Off, directed by Boises Gordon Reinhart, who has a penchant for wrangling fast-paced, door-slamming comedies. A group of itinerant actors rehearses a play, but the backstage intrigue is more interesting than whats on stage. Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 29.
HOW THE SEASON COMES TOGETHER
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival works with its sister company, Clevelands Great Lakes Theater, to produce the season.
Two shows are created in Cleveland to open the Boise season; the next two Boise shows are created here and will move to Cleveland in the fall. The September show only is in Boise.
Actors often move from city to city with the shows, and some roles are recast.
ISF also produces at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. This season Tahoe audiences will see The Two Gentlemen of Verona July 13-Aug. 26. It originated in Cleveland and opened last season in Boise.
OTHER STUFF TO KNOW
Hours: Ampitheater opens at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays June 1-Aug. 26. It opens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays Sept. 1-29.
Cafe Shakespeare: The festivals on-site restaurant operated by Lisa Peterson Catering opens at 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. You can pre-order online at IdahoShakespeare.org and by phone at 947-2067.
Whats a Greenshow? The festivals signature pre-play comedy show is produced, written and performed with guest actors by The Fool Squad (Tom Willmorth and Joe Conley Golden). It begins at 7:30 p.m. every show day except Sundays June 1-Aug. 26. No Greenshow in September.
Accessibility: The Festival grounds are wheelchair accessible. You also can reserve an assistive listening system, and there is one performance for each production that will be interpreted through sign language.
Special nights: This year 3 Horse Ranch and Bier:Thirty Bottle & Brew will hold tastings on certain nights. For dates go to IdahoShakespeare.org.