The Great Artdoors
Summer's here, and the time is right for outdoor performances all over Central Texas
The mercury is rising, but that just means more performing arts companies are taking it to the streets – or rather parks, terraces, and barns – to present shows and concerts. Texans don't seem to mind a little sweat with their culture, and there's a wealth of theatre, dance, and classical music being offered under the sun and stars – much of it free – between now and Labor Day. Here are a dozen events worth noting.
Something for Nothing Theater: Two Gentlemen of VeronaThrough May 18. Thu.-Sat., 8pm. Ramsey Park, 4301 Rosedale.
This year-old company follows its inaugural production of The Comedy of Errors with another early comedy by Shakespeare, and, as the group's name has it, the show is free. Founder Chelsea Bunn directs a cast featuring Jesse Bertron, Austen Cabler, David Boss, Laura Artesi, Patricia Bennett, and "a different adoptable guest from Austin Dog Rescue each weekend as the incorrigible canine, Crab."
Austin Shakespeare Free Shakespeare in the Park: The Winter's TaleThrough May 26. Thu.-Sun., 8pm. Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Dr.
For her take on this late romance by the Bard, Austin Shakespeare Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella transports the settings of Sicilia and Bohemia to Argentina and Brasilia, with tango and samba underscoring the tale of jealousy, heartbreak, and reconciliation. Starring Michael Miller, Nancy Eyermann, and Amy Downing, with drummers and dancers from Austin Samba.
Blue Lapis Light: Heaven-Earth-OneMay 19-26. Nightly, 9pm. Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside.
Choreographer Sally Jacques and the daredevil aerial dancers of Blue Lapis Light return to the Long Center's signature ring to dance atop it, dangle from it, and glide beneath it in a reprise of last fall's breathtaking production, which Chronicle reviewer Dawn Davis Loring said was "filled with lovely dancers, inspired work by gifted technical collaborators, and many glorious images."
EmilyAnn Theatre Summer Musical: The Sound of MusicMay 31-June 30. Fri.-Sun., 8:15pm. EmilyAnn Theatre, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley.
The Hill Country is alive with the sound of this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, staged by Emily Toothman, with a cast featuring Jennifer Peralez, Colton Windham, Juli Dearrington, Gary Yowell, Mary Arizpe, and an army of Von Trapp children.
Austin Symphony Hartman Foundation Concerts in the ParkJune 2-Aug. 25. Sun., 7:30pm. Hartman Concert Park at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside.
For the 11th summer, musicians from the Austin Symphony break out of the concert hall and serenade the public for free in the open air. Selections range from light classical and pops to jazz and film scores, with four ensembles in rotation: strings (first Sundays), brass (second Sundays), woodwinds (third Sundays), and big band (fourth Sundays).
Penfold in the Park: Shipwrecked!June 6-29. Thu.-Sat., 8pm. Round Rock Amphitheater, 301 W. Bagdad, Round Rock.
Penfold Theatre Company makes its third foray into free outdoor summer theatre with Donald Margulies' hilarious salute to 19th century adventure tales, with three actors conjuring high seas, exotic islanders, giant sea turtles, and a man-eating octopus. Artistic Director Ryan Crowder directs Robert Berry, Nathan Jerkins, and Julie Linnard. Each evening, a different special guest gives a preshow performance at 7:30pm.
Austin Civic Orchestra: Missed It By That MuchJune 7-8. Fri.-Sat., 8pm. Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Dr.
In this free concert, the 36-year-old community orchestra pays tribute to the movies with selections from Star Wars, Titanic, Grease, Les Misérables, and more. At the end of the evening, Music Director Lois Ferrari yields the podium to a lucky audience member, chosen through a raffle, to conduct the ACO in a rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever."
Austin Symphonic Band: Father's Day in the Park ConcertSun., June 16, 7:30pm. Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Dr.
This volunteer concert band, now in its 32nd season, has made a local tradition of honoring Dad with a free concert in Zilker Park. (Don't worry, Mom; they do the same for you on Mother's Day at the Capitol.) Marches, patriotic tunes, film music, and other familiar works fill the program.
Austin Shakespeare Young Shakespeare: Romeo and JulietaJune 20-30. Thu.-Sun., 8pm. Curtain Theatre, 7400 Coldwater Canyon.
Actors ages 12-19 tackle the Bard's tragic tale of young love in a version that includes some Spanish-language text intermingled with Shakespeare's. Austin Shakespeare Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella directs the production, to be performed at the Curtain, a replica of an Elizabethan theatre on Richard Garriott's estate on the shores of Lake Austin.
Zilker Summer Musical: Little Shop of HorrorsJuly 12-Aug. 17. Thu.-Sun., 8pm. Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Dr.
Austin's summer theatre tradition marks its 55th year with the Howard Ashman & Alan Menken spoof of Roger Corman's cheapo cult classic and early Sixties culture. The team that steered The Sound of Music to such success last year – director Scott Tatum, choreographer Courtney Wissinger, and music director John Vander Gheynst – returns to bring bloodthirsty Audrey II to life.
Shakespeare at Winedale: The Comedy of Errors; The Tempest; Henry IV, Part 1; Doctor FaustusJuly 18-Aug. 10. Thu.-Fri., 7:30pm; Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:30pm, Winedale Theatre Barn, 3738 FM 2714, Round Top, 512/471-4726.
The acclaimed University of Texas English department program, in which students spend the summer studying and presenting Elizabethan dramas in a Hill Country hay barn, returns with a trio of Shakespearean works and – surprise! – a tragedy by Christopher Marlowe. Professor James Loehlin directs the program.
EmilyAnn Theatre Shakespeare Under the Stars: Julius CaesarAug. 1-10. Nightly, 8:15pm, EmilyAnn Theatre, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley.
The Ides of March move to the dog days of August as Shakespeare Under the Stars, a program that lets middle and high school students perform one of Shakespeare's plays, takes on the political intrigue and bloody battle for power in ancient Rome.