ST. LOUIS - There was a birthday party of sorts in Forest Park Tuesday evening…a 455th birthday! April 23, 1564 is the date historians give as William Shakespeare’s birthday. It also happens to be the date of his death 52 years later.
Nevertheless, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis marked the occasion with a gala fundraiser at the World’s Fair Pavilion, not far from where they will stage free Shakespeare in the Park in just about one month’s time.
Veteran performer Philip Hernández will headline the 2019 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Love’s Labors Lost,” May 31 through June 23, in Forest Park’s Shakespeare Glen. Hernández will play Don Adriano de Armado, a lovelorn soldier considered to be one of Shakespeare's best comic creations. Tom Ridgely, executive producer of the Festival, will direct the production, his first since joining the organization last spring.
2019 is the 19th season of free, outdoor, professional theater in the park. But Shakespeare Festival St. Louis also has an educational tour featuring performances and workshops that introduce students to Shakespeare’s plays. The Shakespeare in the Streets program helps St. Louis regional neighborhoods develop original plays based on Shakespeare’s works that reflect the community’s character. And their “In The Works” program is creating new plays influenced by the bard. Tuesday’s Gala will help raise money for all these efforts.
The festival’s artistic and education programs reached more than 50,000 patrons and students during 2018 and Shakespeare in the Park has become one of St. Louis’ most anticipated Summertime events.