Kentucky Shakespeare is having a record-breaking summer. More than 13,000 patrons have attended the free outdoor Shakespeare performances in Louisville’s Central Park since this year’s festival opened June 12.
That tops attendance at the 2001 summer festival – 12,420 – which set the previous record, and there are still five weeks left in the current Central Park season.
The company has now opened all three of their professional productions: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Henry V,” and “Hamlet.” The festival has staged 25 shows so far, with 31 to go. An average of 520 people have been in attendance each night, doubling last year’s average nightly attendance.
Producing artistic director Matt Wallace, who also directs “Midsummer” and “Hamlet,” says the audiences have been “extremely diverse” in age and demographics.
“Many are first-timers to Central Park, and many are coming back to see all three [shows],” says Wallace.
“Within fifty hours, you’re going to able to see three Shakespeare plays,” says Wallace. “We’re also going to bring something back that Bekki Jo Schneider, back in the old days, used to do at Kentucky Shakespeare, and that’s a marathon Shakespeare night. On Saturday, July 26, we’re going to do all three of them in one night.”
All sixteen actors in the company appear in each show, so on marathon night, audiences will see Matt Lytle, for example, who plays the lead in “Henry V,” also play a member of the comic Rude Mechanicals in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and an officer in “Hamlet.”
The festival continues into August with the student production of “Love’s Labours Lost” and four community partner productions. A full schedule is available. All shows are free and start at 8 p.m. in the C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheatre in Old Louisville’s Central Park.