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Despite heat, play goes on

Posted: June 21, 2008 11:13 p.m.
Updated: August 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Katherina, played by Rebekah Dunn, comes between Hortensio (left), played by B.D. Christiansen, and Lucentio, played by Brandon Pugmire, during a scene from "The Taming of the Shrew" Saturday during Shakespeare in the Park in Newhall.

 

About 120 Shakespeare and theater fans gathered at William S. Hart Park on Saturday to enjoy "The Taming of the Shrew," part of this year's Shakespeare in the Park series.

The play was directed by the event's founder, David Stears, who returned to his role as director after an eight-year hiatus.

During his break from Shakespeare in the Park, members of the Repertory East Playhouse took over the annual play. This year, Stears was invited back to direct it. "It's a great tradition," he said, as people in the background watched "The Taming of the Shrew."

While reflecting on the history of the series, Stears said he was inspired to bring Shakespeare in the Park to the SCV after he attended one in New York. "I thought, ‘Santa Clarita could use that,'" he said.

Nineteen years ago, Stears said he established the Shakespeare in the Park series with a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" at Hart Park.

Since then, the event has found a place in Santa Clarita.

"It's the oldest free cultural event in this valley," he said, adding that it's one year older than the annual summertime Concert in the Park series.

As for why Shakespeare always draws a crowd, Stears said the characters and what they have to say make it.

"It's timeless," he said, noting the characters give people a way to connect to their stories.

That connection was evident as guests sat comfortably in their beach chairs and watched as local performers from the Santa Clarita Valley and from the Repertory East Playhouse and Canyon Theatre Guild, both based in Newhall, acted out the Shakespeare classic.

Although temperatures soared into the 100-degree range on Saturday, many observers came prepared with fans, hats and the occasional oversized beach umbrella as they sat in the shade of the Newhall park.

While characters like Lucentio and Tranio acted on the stage before them, a handful of guests decided to make a picnic out of the show as they munched on sandwiches while passing a bag of chips around.

Since next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Shakespeare in the Park series, Stears hopes to "make it a big celebration" and one that will open the door for Santa Clarita to one day host its own large theater festival.

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