Riverside Theatre, Iowa City’s resident professional theatre company, will produce Riverside Theatre in the Park from June 15 - July 8, featuring As You Like It by William Shakespeare, directed by Theodore Swetz, and The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, directed by Kristin Horton.
This is the 13th season of the four-week event, formerly called Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival.
“Emphasizing the outdoor setting will, we hope, remind people about how magical live theatre in the outdoors can be. As the play begins, night begins to fall, the birds sing, the stars come out. It transports you to another time and place,” said Riverside Theatre Artistic Director Jody Hovland.
Tickets for this summer’s Riverside Theatre in the Park will go on sale on Friday, May 4 at noon.
In As You Like It, Rosalind, Shakespeare's most breathtaking heroine, and her boyfriend Orlando find themselves in the enchanted Forest of Arden, where “all the world's a stage,” and where sudden infatuation is as confusing as it is beautiful. As You Like It has everything people adore about Shakespearean comedy: mistaken identity, cross-dressing, madness, mayhem, lust, laughter, and of course plenty of romance, both heartbreaking and joyous.
“This romantic comedy celebrates the importance of love and has a soothing transformative effect on all who enter its world,” said Swetz.
Arguably one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays, The Merchant of Venice introduces characters rich in complexity, humor and, most of all, flaws. To help Bassanio win the heart of the wealthy heiress Portia, Venetian merchant Antonio borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. Amid the blossoming love, romance and comic pursuits of the heart, Shylock's loan goes unpaid. Antonio must suffer the consequences of defaulting on the loan - and therefore pay the penalty: a pound of his own flesh. Post-performance Talkbacks will be held after all performances of The Merchant of Venice.
“Shylock is a man desperately grasping for respect in a world infected with hatred and greed – he is a tragic character who can't escape this infection himself. A more modern play one will not find,” said Swetz, who will be portraying Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in addition to directing As You Like It.
The Merchant of Venice and related audience education and outreach efforts are supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Riverside Theatre in the Park is performed outdoors at the Riverside Festival Stage in Iowa City’s Lower City Park every summer. This Globe-inspired theatre set against a bluff and adjacent to a willow-ringed reflecting pond, seats 472.
“It’s always exciting for us to assemble the summer company -more than 30 actors, directors and designers from New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, as well as right here in Iowa City. Actors play roles in both productions, and often understudy additional roles, so their time here is very full,” said Hovland.
Several returning actors will appear in featured roles this summer: Kelly Gibson (Ah, Wilderness!) as Portia, Kalen Harriman (Mary’s Wedding, Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labour’s Lost) as Rosalind, Jim Van Valen (A Steady Rain, Ah, Wilderness!) as Jaques and John William Watkins (Guys on Ice) as Gratiano.
Single tickets for Riverside Theatre in the Park range from $17-$39 with discounts available for students, seniors, and youth, as well as those wishing to purchase tickets to both shows. Special pricing is also available for groups of 10 or more.
Four Family Nights will take place on June 17, 24, 26, and July 3. On Family Nights, up to two adults accompanying a youth will receive their tickets at the $17 youth price. Family nights are sponsored by funding from the Johnson County Community Foundation.
Tickets can be ordered by calling the Riverside Theatre Box Office at 319-338-7672. The Riverside Theatre Box Office is open Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. After Memorial Day, the Box Office hours change to Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Single tickets may also be order online at www.riversidetheatre.org
June 15, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
June 16, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
June 17, 7 p.m. - As You Like It*
June 22, 8 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
June 23, 8 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
June 24, 7 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice*
June 26, 7 p.m. - As You Like It*
June 27, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
June 28, 8 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
June 29, 8 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
June 30, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
July 1, 7 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
July 3, 7 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice*
July 5, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
July 6, 8 p.m. - As You Like It
July 7, 8 p.m. - The Merchant of Venice
July 8, 7 p.m. - As You Like It
* Family Night, where up to 2 adults accompanying a youth will receive their tickets at the youth price.