By Becky Harris
Thinking about some summer entertainment for your staycation or fun for visiting kinfolk? How about these for some exciting plot lines...
â€¢ Two sets of twins are separated in a shipwreck. Years later they unknowingly meet, wreaking Greek havoc and hilarity in Shakespeare's silly "Comedy of Errors."
â€¢ A young unruly prince becomes the right king for the right time, saving his country, changing history in Shakespeare's "Henry V." Rated PG.
â€¢ A count becomes no-count as he bites the necks of those he romances. Who else? Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Rated PG.
â€¢ A little girl takes a tumble and meets fantastic characters. "Alice in Wonderland" on stage is even better than in 3-D.
There you have it, the line-up for the fourth season of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre's Festival, June 16-July 3 at Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
Performance times are listed online at arkshakes.com, the website that also has last year's participants talking about what fun they had appearing in Conway, how impressed they were with the audiences (that's us!), and the amazing facilities at Reynolds Performance Hall.
Producing director and founder Matt Chiorini (Kee-o-ree-ni) has picked his performers and is making all the decisions necessary to stage these offerings.
Tickets go on sale about April 15, but to keep up with all the skinny and to be included in all the extra fun events rubbing elbows with the stars and other Shakespeare fans, become an AST member.
Memberships range from $50 (Groundlings) to $1,000 (Angels) and categories in between. All the details are on the website with information about paying online or the old way - no, not with a bag of silver - with a check.
Harvard and Moscow-educated Chiorini has become a leader in the state's arts community since his arrival in 2006. He recently provided the narration for "Peter and the Wolf," Conway Symphony Orchestra's Children's Concert on March 13.
In addition to his other duties this year, Chiorini is playing King Henry.
Under his direction, based on the AST's missions of "artistic excellence, educational opportunities, and community outreach," AST has provided "something unique in our region and provides thousands of families with a one-of-a-kind experience in a world-class facility," he says.
The numbers also tell a story: 10,000 tickets sold to date, more than 1,000 tickets given away to local students and charities, more than 75 intern scholarships created, and more than 150 theatre artists hired from all over the country.
And there's more good news ahead.
"As the state's only professional Shakespeare festival, we're finding
interest in exporting our product. We're in talks for a tour to
Wildwood in Little Rock and up to Eureka Springs after we close in Conway," he said.
Chiorini has a welcoming smile for all who want to join "the swelling scene." Contact him at email@example.com if you'd like to be on the mailing list, serve on the AST board, volunteer, or become a season ticket holder or a contributing member.
Be there. Be amazed.