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Shakespeare in the Park series returns to amphitheater

VISTA — After a brief hiatus in North County, Shakespeare’s timeless work returned to the masses with a recent production of “As You Like It” at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheater Oct. 6 through Oct. 10.
Carlsbad’s New Village Arts Theater and Vista’s Moonlight Cultural Foundation paired up for the most recent installment of Shakespeare in the Park at the newly renovated Moonlight Amphitheater. The performances were
held at the 2,100-seat theater for a successful five-night
“It’s really great to have two arts organizations collaborating for the good of the community and share in
the vision of making Shakespeare’s words come alive,” Moonlight Cultural Foundation’s Executive Director Diana Aaron said.
The nonprofit foundation provided funding for the performance, while New Village Arts took over the artistic direction. Seventeen cast members performed an updated version of the play that also included several original songs written by cast member Summer Spiro, the theater’s founder and artistic director Kristianne Kurner said.
“It’s really exciting to see New Village Arts’ work, which we normally see on a small scale, up on the big stage with all of the bells and whistles,” Kurner said.
Through foundation underwriting and sponsorships, tickets were affordable for local residents and free for students and active
military members, Aaron said.
For Aaron, exposing Shakespeare to high school students was a highlight of the experience. She sympathized with her 16-year-old son who “hates Shakespeare” because he can’t connect with it, but was impressed with director Liz Shipman’s ability to make it come alive for attendees of all ages.
“It’s set in 1960s-era New Orleans — you still have the thees and thous, but now they can relate to it,” she
said. “That’s critically important.”
New Village Arts originally hosted its Shakespeare in the Park series with free performances in Carlsbad’s parks for six years. Once the theater secured its permanent space in the Carlsbad Village, performances were relocated to the new venue on State Street in 2007, Kurner said.
“We wanted to encourage people to come down and get accustomed to our new space, to know where we were,” Kurner said.
A year later, the theater was invited to bring its popular Shakespeare productions to Vista’s Avo Playhouse, where they first established a relationship with the Moonlight Cultural Foundation.
Shakespeare in the Park took a short break before moving to the Moonlight Amphitheater, which had been under renovation. The theater now has permanent professional lighting and sound equipment that better suits a wider variety of needs and performances, Aaron said.
“The renovations are done, Moonlight Amphitheater is celebrating their 30th anniversary, we’re celebrating our 10th — all the stars aligned that made this the right time to make Shakespeare in the Park happen,” Kurner said.