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A summer of Shakespeare in St. Louis opens with a Cuban-inspired ‘Twelfth Night’

 A photo of a performance of Much Ado About Nothing. Three male actors stand on a stage, while a fourth actor crouches down to sneak by them.
Phillip Hamer Photography
St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's 2022 production of "Much Ado About Nothing."

For lovers of theater, a St. Louis summer doesn't truly start until Shakespeare is being performed in Forest Park. That moment will come May 31, as the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival opens its annual run of free performances.

This year, that performance is “Twelfth Night,” a roughly 400-year-old play that in its day created some of the same tropes that audiences still enjoy in modern romantic comedies. In a new twist, the festival’s 2023 version of “Twelfth Night” will be set in “glamorous, celebrity-filled Miami.”

Tom Ridgley, the producing artistic director of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, praised the vision of director Lisa Portes, whose father immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.

“She saw in this story, of Viola and Sebastian arriving in Illyria, a story not unlike the story of her family. She saw in a world that was full of… all the wealth, of dukes and countesses and things like that, a world not unlike Miami or southern Florida.”

There’s even more Shakespeare in the works this summer: In August, the festival’s touring production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” — directed by Cherokee Street Theater Artistic Director Suki Peters — will go on the road to 25 parks in the St. Louis region. “Merry Wives” will also have shows in Hermann, O’Fallon and the Metro East in Illinois.

That’s not all: The Shakespeare Festival is currently working on a new production focused on St. Louis soccer, which is described as “a world-premiere play about the history of soccer in St. Louis.” Coming in September, the play is being written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Benjamin Hochman. The production has put out a call for the public to contribute stories about St. Louis soccer that will be part of the final show. People can submit their stories on the show’s web page.

Related Event 
What: Shakespeare in the Park's “Twelfth Night”
When: May 31 to June 25
Where: Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park, 6604 Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63110

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."