Aspen’s Shakespeare in the Park series canceled for 2017 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Shakespeare in the Park series canceled for 2017

The Hudson Reed Ensemble has canceled its 2017 Shakespeare in the Park production of "Macbeth." Pictured here is a scene from the company's 2016 run of "As You Like It."

The Hudson Reed Ensemble has canceled its Shakespeare in the Park production of "Macbeth," which had been set for free August performances in Galena Plaza in Aspen and Lions Park in Basalt.

Founder and director Kent Reed cited a combination of factors for scuttling the production, including losing its rehearsal space in the city-owned Rio Grande Room and a failed sound system.

"It was a difficult decision to make, but too many things piled up," Reed said Friday.

He told his cast a few weeks ago, he said, and made the cancelation public Thursday night.

The popular annual outdoor Shakespeare series celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 with a production of "As You Like It." After that run concluded, city officials told Reed that his theater company would no longer have access to the Rio Grande Room, as the city planned to move its parking department into the public meeting space in a shuffle of government offices. The city had donated the space to Hudson Reed over the past 10 years, waiving most of its rental fee.

Reed worked with the city to find a replacement rehearsal space, he said, including public and commercial buildings, but could not find one within Hudson Reed's modest budget.

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The company planned to move forward with its "Macbeth" production, which it announced this spring, with rehearsals in a cast member's home. But additional issues cropped up in recent months: Three actors and a stage manager left the show for personal reasons and the sound system Hudson Reed had previously used was unavailable for the summer run.

Reed recast his Lady Macbeth and additional parts and rented a replacement wireless microphone system. But the company's sound engineer found it would not work in the challenging acoustic environment of Galena Plaza. Replacing the system would have cost $15,000 — more than three times the cost of its wireless one.

"That was insurmountable," Reed said. "With no sound equipment and no place to rehearse, that kind of did it."

Despite the disappointment of scrapping Hudson Reed's signature event, Reed said the company's creative work will continue. The theater company is currently workshopping an original play about Beat generation writers by local playwright Morgan Walsh. Reed is aiming to share it with local audiences soon.

"We're hoping this fall to at least have a reading of it, with the hope in the future of mounting a production," he said.

Reed is also looking at material for the theater company's annual winter holiday production, which in recent years has included dramatic readings of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol" at the Aspen Community Church.

And Reed is hopeful that the company can find rehearsal space and raise funds for sound equipment to revive Shakespeare in the Park for summer 2018.

"We're planning on it," he said. "There are unanswered questions. There just wasn't time to resolve them (this summer)."

atravers@aspentimes.com