Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 24, 2013

Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre launches 10th year

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — FRANKFORT — No poison or daggers allowed and swords must be checked at the door.

The Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre launches its 10th Anniversary season Saturday with a "gala" fundraiser at the Oliver Art Center. Proceeds will help support this year’s productions of "Romeo and Juliet” and “A Comedy of Errors,” July 23-August 2 at the Tank Hill outdoor theater, as well as art education classes and theater workshops at the center.

The “Evening in Verona” starts at 7 p.m. and will transform Oliver Art Center into The House of Capulet, said Amy Moehle, the company's volunteer community development director. All Capulets (friends of Juliet’s family) are welcome. Montagues (Romeo’s family) will wear masks made in a May 15 Oliver Center workshop, she said.

Ensemble members will perform scenes from past and present productions, minstrels will wander, and local foodie appetizers and sweets prepared with ingredients from local farms will be served with wine poured by the Traverse City Wine and Arts Festival, Moehle said. The event also will feature silent and live auctions for items including a walk-on role during this year’s season.

Elizabeth Laidlaw of Chicago, a fourth-generation summer resident who has never missed the season in Frankfort, created the Lakeside company in 2003 to bring free outdoor performances of Shakespeare plays to Benzie County. The company includes an ensemble of more than 30 Chicago area actors, actresses, directors and crew who come to Frankfort each summer to perform two of the Bard’s plays for two weeks in late July and early August.

"The grand plan from the beginning has been to keep building it and expanding into a real summer repertory festival," Laidlaw said. "We got slowed down when the economy took a tremendous crash, but now we have more infrastructure in place and we're trying to bounce back with it and grow."

The community fundraiser, planned by Moehle, is a first for the theater company.

"We're a Chicago ensemble, but we don't perform anywhere else," Laidlaw said. "We exist in Frankfort. We don't tour or go on the road. These performances are created for this place and really belong to Frankfort and Elberta.

Over the last 10 years, the theater group has added an education component that includes theater workshops; mentoring; children's, young adult and adult workshops; and outreach performances.

"Romeo and Juliet," directed by Jeff Christian, will open July 23 and run July 25, 27, 30 and August 1. "The Comedy of Errors" will be directed by Scott Cummins and starts July 24. Other performances are July 26, 28, 31 and August. 2. All performances start at 7 p.m. at Tank Hill in Frankfort. Access is off Park Avenue, just west of M-22 (Crystal Drive). The performances are free. Suggested donation is $15, Moehle said.

Tickets for Saturday's fundraiser are $25 advance, or $30 at the door. They're available at Corner Drug, Charlie’s Natural Food Market and the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort, Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City, and online at

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