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Shakespeare in the Park returns

• ‘Taming of the Shew' opens today

Posted: June 21, 2008 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 22, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Gather the family, a blanket, a picnic dinner and head for William S. Hart Park this weekend or next for a free performance of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

The Shakespeare in the Park performances will be presented by the Repertory East Playhouse, which joined forces this year with its neighbor down the block, the Canyon Theatre Guild.

"We are excited to collaborate in bringing this to our community," said TimBen Boydston, director of operations for the Guild. "We are also grateful to the city of Santa Clarita for their grant support, which made this possible."

After an eight-year hiatus, David Stears, the founder of the event has returned to direct this year's production.

"We're coming up on the 20th anniversary, and I'm proud that it's been around for so long," Stears said. "I thought it would be nostalgic to come back after all these years."

"The Taming of the Shrew" is one of Shakespeare's funniest comedies and is appropriate for the entire family, Stears said. It tells the story of bad-tempered Kate and Petruchio, the man who tries to "tame" her.

"I think most people think Kate is the bad guy, but there is a genuine love story between Kate and Petruchio as they get to know one another," he said.

Kate is played by professional actress Rebekah Dunn, and Petruchio is played by Valencia High School Theater Department Director Stephen Whelan. Brent Christensen, theater director at Hart High School, will play Hortensio. Other roles will be played by students from local colleges and high schools and other local actors. "It's an outstanding cast," Stears said.

Stears hopes that, with so many organizations helping out with this year's production, this could be the beginning of a major development in building a full summer theater festival in the Santa Clarita Valley. Besides a few Shakespeare performances, there is currently no theater festival in the Los Angeles County area, he said.

"It's really hard to build a summer festival, and it will take a number of organizations working together to do that," Stears said. "I think this is the beginning of that, and it's exciting."


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