And in celebrating this 30th year of free performances of Shakespeare in the Park, the Gaslight players are taking Shakespeare to several stages to show off their Shakespearean chops.
“In choosing this year’s plays, the Gaslight Board, selection committee and directors started throwing around the idea of making the season Shakespeare “themed” to honor the 30 years of Shakespeare in the Park,” said Board President Frank Baker. “Not everything is Shakespeare related, but several of the plays are, and we are excited to show them off.”
The season starts on September 15th, with the classic “Hamlet” at Government Springs Park. “I am just tickled that we have been able to do free Shakespeare in the Park for 30 years,” says Baker, “I can’t think of many communities that have been able to do so, but we have been so lucky to have had some great people like Mary McDonald and Dave Abbott, who came up with the idea and championed it for many years, but also some of the younger folks, like Bailey Wilson (Hamlet Director) and her husband Alex Johnson (paying Hamlet), who have really stepped up and taken the mantle. Without the newer generation, it might be much more difficult.”
Other Shakespeare themed performances this season include “As You Like It,” by the Gaslight Teens, “Rosencrants and Guildenstern Are Dead” and Monty Python’s “Spamalot.” “It is going to be a fun season,” says Baker, “and we really appreciate the support of the community partners and the Oklahoma Arts Council which allow us to do what we do.”
As for Gaslight Theatre itself, it is hard to miss the big changes they have had over the last couple of years. “We started a capital campaign to raise a million dollars, and then Covid hit, so we had to take a bit of a step back. The good news is that we are back at it and recently finished the marquee and renovations of the Turpin Theater, the small black box theater connected to the larger theater space. With that renovation we will be able to open up the big doors and have a cool indoor/outdoor social area to use. Next up, we hope to replace the seating in the large theater as well as several other planned renovations,” said Baker. According to Capital Campaign Chairperson Tiffany Harvey, they are more than 1/3 of the way to their goal.
As for the upcoming season, Baker says to expect great performances from what is some of the most diverse and talented group of performers, directors, and stage managers the Gaslight has ever had. “As an organization, I am so happy we have the demographics we do, from the really active and talented Gaslight Teens, to the younger generation in their 20’s and 30’s and us more “experienced” crew, Gaslight is really strong. And we are really happy to serve the community.” Whether it’s at Government Springs Park, the Turpin, Gaslight Theatre or even Stride Bank Center, check out what this great community acting group has to offer. Afterward you are certain to believe that “parting is such sweet sorrow.”