Jupiter's 22nd Shakespeare Festival takes liberties with plane crash in ‘Twelfth Night'

JUPITER —Lost twins, love triangles and a mysterious plane crash highlight the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival's upcoming production of Twelfth Night at Carlin Park's Seabreeze Amphitheater.

Shakespeare's beloved comedy about mistaken identity runs July 12-15 and 19-22. It will be featured for the third time in the Festival's 22-year history, following performances in 1990 and 1996.

" Twelfth Night is a magical, auspicious play in the pivotal growth of the Shakespeare Festival," producing director Kermit Christian said.

Christian and director/associate artist Kevin Crawford took some liberties with the play, basing it on a plane crash rather than a shipwreck.

Twenty-two years ago, the pair was instrumental in bringing the Shakespeare Festival to Jupiter.

After visiting Carlin Park in 1990, the pair decided the venue would be ideal for staging outdoor Shakespearean theater. Later that year, the company launched its debut production of Twelfth Night using mostly local performers.

Its success caught producers by surprise.

"An amazing amount of people came out and enjoyed it," Christian said. "At that point, we turned around to the county and said, ‘This could be something special. Let's work together.' So Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation, the county commission and the Shakespeare Festival formed a partnership to do outdoor Shakespearean theater."

More than two decades later, that partnership has yielded an enthusiastic following of fans who swell the 3-year-old Seabreeze Amphitheather every summer.

Christian estimates each two-week production draws more than 10,000 Shakespeare fans to Carlin Park.

The company alternates productions each year, staging a variety of popular plays such as Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet to lesser-known productions like last summer's Pericles.

"We go for crowd-pleasers as much as the ones that are rarely done," Crawford said. "It's really an event."

Admission to each performance is free, though donations are accepted. Production costs are shared by the festival and numerous sponsors, while the county covers costs associated with park and theater maintenance.

"It's a very beautiful, wonderful and equitable relationship," Christian said.

That relationship will continue for a 23rd year, as the festival plans to move to repertoire performances by staging two productions - As You Like It and Coriolanus - next summer. As You Like It then will move to Hawaii for a short run, a first for the company.

All eight performances of Twelfth Night begin at 8 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring beach chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. For information, contact (561) 966-7099 or www.pbshakespeare.org.

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