What to Know About the 2024 Colorado Shakespeare Festival

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The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is a beloved annual tradition, held every summer for the last six decades at the University of Colorado Boulder.

 

This summer, the festival will look and feel a little different because of ongoing construction on campus. But, rest assured, you’ll still be able to enjoy high-quality theater from some of the most talented actors around all summer long.

 

This year’s festival runs June 8 through August 11. And, while that may seem like a long time from now, it’s best to start making plans now as tickets tend to go quickly.

 

From left to right: Sean Scrutchins (Edgar), Mare Trevathan (Earl of Kent) and Ellen McLaughlin (King Lear) perform in “King Lear” during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 2023. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Koskinen

 

If you’ve attended festival performances in the past, you likely remember sitting under the stars at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre. This year, all performances are being held indoors at the newly renovated Roe Green Theatre, which features upgraded acoustics and an improved climate control system.

 

That’s because the university is currently in the middle of a massive renovation of the historic Hellems Building, which surrounds the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre. It’s possible that next year’s festival will also be held indoors, but it just depends on how the construction goes.

 

Actors perform in “One Man, Two Guvnors” during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 2023. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Koskinen

 

When all the work is finished, Hellems will be refreshed, but the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre will remain unchanged.

 

Another reason to snag tickets now? Because of the venue change, there will be a smaller number of tickets available than usual — so if you have your heart set on a particular date and time, go ahead and book now.

 

In the meantime, the cast and crew are excited to host audiences inside the Roe Green Theatre. This year, they’re putting on three shows that are guaranteed to make you laugh, weep and maybe even shiver.

 

Jacob Dresch (Autolycus) and Brian Bohlender (Shephard’s Son) in “The Winter’s Tale” during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2023 season. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Koskinen

 

Macbeth: This iconic play by William Shakespeare tells the story of the Scottish king who tries to influence his own fate by making a series of ill-fated decisions. Directed by Wendy Franz, the show is a “sexy and spellbinding tragedy,” according to the festival.

 

“This is a play that has sparked so many people’s imaginations and has so many interesting moral questions,” says Franz. “I believe that one of the great tragedies is that Macbeth ignores so many opportunities to choose the right thing. And the other tragedy is that when people turn away from each other instead of toward each other, that’s when the world falls apart. The people who ultimately prevail in the play are those who turn toward each other and figure out a way to trust each other against all odds.”

 

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Also by William Shakespeare, but this one is a comedy. Directed by Kevin Rich, it follows the infamous Falstaff as he tries to seduce the wives of two wealthy merchants at the same time. But Mistresses Page and Ford are much too savvy for that, and they enact their revenge by playing practical jokes on Falstaff. Hilarity ensues. The festival describes this one as a “delightfully naughty romp.”

 

Arden of Faversham: This is an original practices event with just two showings: 1:30 and 7 p.m. on July 29. Written by an unknown author, the play is about a woman’s pact with her lover to murder her husband. The show is being actor-managed by Shunté Lofton.

 

If you’d love nothing more than to spend an entire day immersed in the world of Shakespeare, here’s some good news: The festival is offering “double-header Sundays” this year, which means you can see two different shows in the same theater on the same day. This year, there will be four Sundays with double-headers: July 14, July 21, August 4 and August 11.

 

Though the festival has done a few one-off double-headers in the past, this is the first summer in which both of the featured productions will be offered on the same day.

 

“We challenged ourselves to four doubleheader Sundays, in which patrons will see the matinee of one show, take a break, then come back and see the other in the evening,” says Tim Orr, the festival’s producing artistic director. “We don’t do this often, but when we do, it’s always a blast.. Both cast and audience know they are going on this marathon together, sharing the excitement energy.”

 

Tickets are available online, over the phone (303-492-8008) and at the CU Presents Box Office.

 

 

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