Aspen’s Shakespeare in the Park series aims for rebirth in Basalt
The Hudson Reed Ensemble is scouting for local actors as it prepares to revive its popular Shakespeare in the Park series that has been dormant since 2016 and move the show downvalley to Basalt.
The nonprofit theater company will hold auditions March 2 and 3 at the Basalt Regional Library, where the Aspen-based theater is planning to stage “To Woo is Me” in the adjacent Midland Park in mid-July for a two-week run.
After struggling with logistical issues in Aspen, founder and director Kent Reed is aiming to plant the Shakespeare flag in Basalt, though he needs to find six cast members first.
“Frankly, it all depends on if we can get these things cast,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “But I am confident we can.”
During its decade-long run in Aspen, the series was known for nontraditional stagings of Shakespeare plays — a “Taming of the Shrew” set in the Wild West, for instance, and a “Twelfth Night” featuring tap-dancing and songs from the Roaring ’20s. A three-weekend run of “Romeo and Juliet” in 2013 drew a reported crowd of nearly 1,200 total spectators.
For the Basalt debut, Reed is planning to stage “To Woo is Me,” a collection of seduction scenes from Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
“We feel offering these bite-sized nuggets from some of the best plays Shakespeare ever wrote will be a great way to introduce Shakespeare and our company to the midvalley community,” Reed said in the announcement.
The last production of the free outdoor Shakespeare was in 2016, when it celebrated its 10th anniversary and staged “As You Like It” on Galena Plaza in Aspen. A planned 2017 staging of “Macbeth” was canceled after the company lost its city-provided rehearsal space in the Rio Grande Room, as municipal offices moved into the former community meeting space. The production also ran into casting trouble.
Each of the three scenes in “To Woo Is Me” involve just two actors, so Reed believes he will not run into similar issues with rehearsal space and filling roles.
“I’m confident it will happen,” he said.
Auditions begin at 3 p.m. on March 2 and 3. Details at hudsonreedensemble.org.
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Aspen Words’ literary conference and festival is back in-person after a pandemic hiatus and a move from June to autumn.