There’s still time to catch one of the very best cheap theater events in the East Bay this weekend. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival has two remaining performances of Twelfth Night as its Free Shakespeare in the Park production in Oakland’s Lakeside Park, on the shores of Lake Merritt. It’s a rollicking comic tale of mistaken identity and misplaced love.
Free Shakespeare in the Park can always command the services of the Bay Area’s finest actors because they love the chance to do Shakespeare. This year’s festival features several experienced actors from the 2002 and 2003 seasons: Alexandra Matthew as Viola, Stephen Klum as Feste, Julian Lopez-Morillas as Sir Toby Belch, Alex Moggridge as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Christina Vecchiato as Fabian, and Jack Powell as Malvolio. Newcomers include Joe Wyka as Orsino, Mia Tagano as Olivia, Michael Craig Storm as Sebastian, and Andrew Harkins as Antonio. Music is provided by a three-piece on-stage ensemble, including sax, guitar, and piano.
Seeing Julian Lopez-Morillas in the rich character role of the roguish Sir Toby is an experience not to be missed. He was one of the founding members of the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, which had fifteen splendid summer seasons at John Hinkel Park before moving to the ‘burbs and becoming the more pretentious (though not necessarily better) California Shakespeare Festival. Over the last 20 years or more, Lopez-Morillas has routinely gotten rave reviews for appearances with all of the best theater companies in the Bay Area and throughout the state. He now teaches acting and directing—in between gigs—at San Jose State, so making time to work with Free Shakespeare is a real labor of love for him.
The stage area is a lawn near the park’s wildlife sanctuary. It can be reached via Bellevue Avenue, off Grand Avenue. AC Transit buses No. 58 and No. 12 come close, as does BART at the 19th Street station. Bring a blanket to sit on, and picnic food and drink if you want. Hats and/or sunscreen are optional but strongly recommended. Oh, and the actors will pass the hat, so you really should bring some money, if you can afford it. Maybe what you spent on your last movie…
The performances this weekend are Saturday, Aug. 28, and Sunday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m. If you miss these, you can still catch the September performances in San Francisco at the Presidio, on the Main Post Lawn, from Sept. 4-26, Saturdays, Sundays, and on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 6), all at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.sfshakes.org, or call the information line at (415) 865-4434.