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Summer Bucket List: Outdoor Theater Performances

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By Alicia Dziak

Outdoor activities rule the summer in WNY, and it’s a great time to experience a variety of entertainment. Why not make plans to check out an outdoor theater performance in the next couple months?

On Friday, Aug. 10, Shake on the Lake presents Richard III right here in Ellicottville.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Shake on the Lake presents Richard III right here in Springville.

Shake on the Lake (SOTL) is a non-profit, professional theatre company that specializes in staging outdoor, summer, Shakespeare productions.

Richard III is about a person thought of as “a deformed, evil, toad” doing whatever he can to take power and prove to people he IS capable, then through his treacherous, violent, machinations betrays friends, loved ones, becomes King, only for it to all go horribly wrong in the end. Richard is a tragic Shakespearean clown, who uses humor, charm, and violence to achieve his goal of becoming the most powerful person in the world—the King of England. Shakespeare’s plays speak across time, with themes that relate to audiences in 1618, to now in 2018.

This free event will be at the Village Gazebo at 9 West Washington Street in Ellicottville at 8 p.m.

In case you’re busy that night, the same performance will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 1 at Heritage Park, Franklin Street, Springville. Rain Location: Mongerson Theater, 37 N. Buffalo St., Springville, NY 14141

Shakespeare in Delaware Park, located at Shakespeare Hill, 199 Lincoln Parkway, Buffalo is one of the biggest free outdoor Shakespeare festivals in the country and has been a beloved addition to the Western New York summer theater landscape for the last 42 years.

The first play, King Lear, runs through July 15.

Lear, King of England, decides to give up the throne and divide his kingdom between his three daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. Before he divides the country, he asks each of his daughters to tell him how much she loves him. The two older daughters flatter Lear, but when Cordelia refuses to make a public declaration of love for her father, she is disinherited. She marries the King of France, who accepts her without a dowry. The other two daughters, Goneril and Regan, and their husbands, the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall, inherit the kingdom.

The Earl of Gloucester, deceived by his illegitimate son Edmund, disinherits his legitimate son, Edgar. Edgar is forced to go into disguise as a mad beggar to save his life. Lear, now without power, quarrels with his daughters, Goneril and Regan, when they refuse to accept Lear with his retainers. He leaves in a rage to live in a wasteland as it storms. He is accompanied only by his Fool and by his former advisor, the banished Earl of Kent, who is now disguised as a servant.

Lear, Kent, and the Fool encounter Edgar, , who is still in disguise as a mad beggar. Gloucester tries to help Lear, but is betrayed by his illegitimate son Edmund and captured by Lear’s daughter Regan and her husband. They put out Gloucester’s eyes and make Edmund the Earl in his father’s place.

Lear is taken secretly to the port town of Dover, where Cordelia has landed with a French army to rescue her father. There, Lear and Cordelia are reconciled but in the ensuing battle are captured by the sisters’ combined forces. Goneril and Regan are both in love with Edmund, who commanded their forces in the battle. Discovering this, Goneril’s husband, Albany, forces Edmund to defend himself against the charge of treachery. Edgar arrives, disguised as an anonymous knight. He challenges Edmund to a trial by combat, and fatally wounds his brother. News comes that Goneril has poisoned her sister Regan and then committed suicide. Before dying, Edmund reveals that he has ordered the deaths of Lear and Cordelia. Soldiers are sent to rescue them, but arrive too late: Cordelia has been killed. Lear enters carrying her body, and then dies. Albany agrees to give the throne to Edgar.

The second performance at Delaware Park this summer is Much Ado About Nothing, running July 26 through Aug. 19.

Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, pays a visit to Leonato, the governor of Messina.  Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers, Benedick and Claudio, as well as his illegitimate brother, Don John. While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato’s daughter, Hero. The young lovers are soon betrothed. Meanwhile, Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice, the governor’s clever niece.  Each declaring, a little too emphatically, that they cannot stand the other. To pass the week before the wedding, Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio conspire to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to make them admit their love for one another.  Both Benedick and Beatrice will be tricked into believing that the other has professed a great love for them.

The wedding of Claudio and Hero approaches, but Don John, with the aid of his companions, Borachio and Conrade, plot against it, bringing Hero’s virtue into question. Claudio falls for the ruse and denounces Hero at the altar. Friar Francis convinces the family to announce that Hero has died of grief from the proceeding. Hero is hidden away while the family tries to uncover the truth.  Beatrice alone maintains Hero’s innocence, and after professing her love to Benedick, implores him to confront Claudio and defend Hero’s honor.

Borachio drunkenly boasts of his part in the plot to defame Hero, and is arrested by the night watchmen. He and Conrade are turned over to Dogberry and Verges, the bumbling heads of the local constabulary.  After a hearing before the Sexton, the villains are found out, and Hero is exonerated.  But, Don John has managed to escape from Messina.  Leonato tells Claudio, that he will allow Claudio to marry one of his nieces in Hero’s place—a niece that turns out to be none other than Hero herself. Claudio and Hero are reunited, Benedick and Beatrice wed alongside them, and they receive the news that the bastard Don John has been apprehended.

Free performances take place Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. You will definitely want to get there early, not just for a great spot on the hill (chairs are welcome, but near the top only; blankets allowed near the stage) but also to ensure a good parking spot nearby.

If you like mysteries and perhaps a little cocktail to aid in your problem-solving skills, check out Murder Mystery Performances Aboard the Double Decker Bus Every Friday and Saturday evening this summer.

Hop aboard the double decker of death this summer.  Enjoy a killer time on our bus while you figure out “who done it” as you visit three local taverns.  All murder mystery tours are 21+.

Friday Night: Killing at Buffalo Creek.

New for 2018: Saddle-Up for a Western themed murder mystery.  A stranger has shaken up the wild west town of Buffalo Creek.  Why not wear your best cowboy duds and find out who shot the stranger.  Was it the lady sheriff, the mayor, the town drunk or the cat house madame?  You are deputized for an interactive evening of fun. Performances every Friday this season, $30 per person.

Saturday Night: Death at Doug’s Dive.

The year is 1866 and you are visiting the most low-down gin joint in Buffalo’s waterfront red light district. It’s your job to find out who killed dive-bar owner Doug by interviewing characters based upon real life people who survived in the city’s most notorious slum.  This production is back by popular demand from last year. Performances every Saturday evening this season, $30 per person. For more info and tickets, visit www.buffalodouble

deckerbus.com.

Gin Mill 7-13-18

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