LENOX >> Shakespeare & Company's newly reconfigured Tina Packer Playhouse opens 7:30 p.m. Friday with the first in a series of preview performances of "The Merchant of Venice," directed by founder Tina Packer and featuring Jonathan Epstein as Shylock. The two first worked together on this play 18 years ago The Mount.

Company veteran Elizabeth Apenlieder is associate director.

"The Merchant of Venice" runs through Aug. 21. Press opening is 4 p.m. July 10. That performance will be immediately followed by the annual Shakespeare & Company Gala.

Shakespeare's most debated play offers a display of courtship, prejudice, clashing religions, money and revenge.

Packer's production features a cast of long-time company actors including, in addition to Epstein, John Hadden, Jason Asprey, Kate Abbruzzese, Peter Andersen, Erick Avari, Thomas Brazzle, Cloteal L. Horne, and Dylan Wittrock. Among company newcomers in the cast are Tamara Hickey, Shahar Isaac, Bella Merlin, Michael Fuchs and Deaon Griffin-Pressley.

Ticket information is available online at shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company at (413) 637-3353.

Shakespeare & Company is at 70 Kemble St.