The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s 44th season is in full swing at Sand Harbor State Park through Aug. 21. While Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” is the headline show, “Forever Plaid,” a musical focusing on the music of the 1950s, will be presented on alternate nights.
In addition, the Showcase Series brings musical and ballet performances to the sand dunes, and the Young Shakespeare program introduces the Bard to a younger audience. While all of these productions will surely be entertaining, it is the venue that steals the show. Once you’ve experienced an event under the stars at the edge of Lake Tahoe, it is hard to imagine a better place to see a performance.
“I remember one glorious evening when I sat up high.
The sunset was a blazing show of purples and
pinks above Lake Tahoe. It was as if the
lake itself was a part of the performance.”
I recently attended a performance of “The Comedy of Errors.” It’s a lively Rio De Janeiro carnival take on Shakespeare’s classic farce about two twin brothers and their two twin servants reunited after three decades apart. While the focus is on comedy and miscommunication, it also touches on relationships between the sexes and between generations. Frequent energetic dance and bright costumes add to the flair. While the show was certainly entertaining for those of us who have not read Shakespeare, I was kicking myself for not reading “The Comedy of Errors” before heading to the show.
There are several seating choices at Sand Harbor. The premium seating gets you close to the stage, in large comfy chairs with the option of table service for food and drink. The next step away from the stage are the cafe tables where groups of four can lounge around a table and watch the show. Food service here is also an option. Then you start moving up the sand dunes into the Lower and Upper Gallery sections. As you go up you get further from the stage, but you see much more of the lake, and the price of admission is a lot less.
Over the years, I’ve sat in the premium, as well as up on the dunes and enjoyed both opportunities. If you want to really experience the show, and enjoy a fine dining experience without ever leaving your chair, get down to the front. But if you want to experience the lake as much as the actors, go ahead and plod your way up the sand. I remember one glorious evening when I sat up high. The sunset was a blazing show of purples and pinks above Lake Tahoe. It was as if the lake itself was a part of the performance.
Tips for a night at Sand Harbor
It can get really cold out there. It was a windy, cold night and even with four layers on, I still gazed with envy at my friend’s blanket next to me. Bring your own blanket, otherwise your intermission will be spent like mine, rummaging around in my car hoping to find articles of clothing to provide warmth. For folks from the Bay Area, think of it as like going to a Giant’s night game.
By all means eat the food. It is excellent and not too pricy. I dove into tri-tip tacos and my friend devoured a Crab and Shrimp Louie Salad. The burgers looked pretty enticing, as well. And, on this cold evening, hot chocolate and salted caramel brownies were a special treat at the intermission. Our food server was local teacher Heidi Bushway-Verkler, “Working as a server at Shakespeare is a fun summer job. It’s social, fast moving and you can’t beat the incredible setting. The staff is vivacious and energetic, and the patrons are excited about viewing a great show in an amazing venue.”
There’s more than Shakespeare
The other major show appearing this year is “Forever Plaid.” It’s a comedy musical based around the premise that a group of four singers known as The Plaids are killed in the early 1960s on their way to their first gig. Now, they come back to life to give the performance they never got to give.
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival also presents a lineup of Showcase Series events on the nights where the two main shows are dark. Events include ballet, classic and jazz music and modern dance.
The D.G. Menchetti Young Shakespeare program presents an hour-long live adaptation of “The Comedy of Errors” for children. The event is free and provides an opportunity for local middle and high school students to participate in the performances on Aug. 4 and 5.
Parking is free at Sand Harbor after 5 p.m. and the doors open at 5:30. Food and restrooms are available near the entrance. Upper and Side Gallery seating is first-come, first-served and small coolers are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks.
For tickets or for more information, visit laketahoeshakespeare.com.
Photos by Joy Strotz
Through Aug. 21
“The Comedy of Errors” & “Forever Plaid”
Tuesday-Sunday | 7:30 p.m.
Young Shakespeare | 10 a.m.
Young Shakespeare | 11 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. | Valhalla Boat House Theatre
Ann Hampton Callaway | 7:30 p.m.
Reno Philharmonic Orchestra’s Ol’ Blue Eyes at the Beach | 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 & 27
InnerRhythms’ Midsummer Nightmare Totems | 7:30 p.m.
Reno Jazz Orchestra’s Music of the Masters | 7:30 p.m.
Trails & Vistas World Concert | 7:30 p.m.