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Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival kicks off with 'Henry IV'

Posted: July 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival at Towsley Canyon Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival at Towsley Canyon
Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival at Towsley Canyon

Taverns, rebellion, corruption, battles and cliff hangers; William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part One” is missing only dragons and oversized wolves as it follows three groups of nobles as they plot and scheme for the throne.

The drama kicks off a three-week run of the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival at 7 p.m. today, opening the summer “Shakespeare in the Park” series in Towsley Canyon Park.

“Shakespeare in the Park has been around since 1990,” said David Stears, the founder and executive producer of the festival. “I originally started it back then with another company, and it ran for ten years.”

The outdoor theatre series has been at the Towsley Canyon location for four years, working with the Canyon Theater Guild, Stears said.

Valencia High School theatre teacher Stephen Whelan made his directing debut this year after having acted with the festival for three years.

“The play is basically about a father and a son,” Whelan said. “It’s about a king who is under attack from rebel forces and how he’s trying to get his son to live right, to live like a prince should live.”

The actors and crew have been preparing five days a week since June, Whelan said.

“There’s a lot of humor as well as a lot of chivalry, and a lot of sword fighting; and a big climactic Act V.”

Friday night, the festival hosted its second annual Preview Dinner and Festival Opening, a fundraiser for the summer production.

Dinner was provided by Outback Steakhouse for those who purchased the $50 tickets for the premiere showing of “Henry IV.”

All the proceeds went to support the free performances playing Saturdays and Sundays for the next three weekends.

“We’re happy we have these types of events in Santa Clarita,” said Canyon Country resident Diane Benjamin.

Diane and Bob Benjamin recall attending “Shakespeare in the Park” years ago, saying they did not know that the new Rivendale part of Towsley Canyon Park had been built.

“They did it in a park and someone’s backyard,” Bob Benjamin said.


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