Shakespeare in the Park hopes for record 9th straight show with no rainout

A crowd enjoy last year's Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Tempest" at The Common in Pittsfield. Thanks to a run of good weather, this year's production, "Twelfth Night," has seen record attendence.

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park is on a hot streak.

If Mother Nature continues to cooperate, Thursday's performance of "Twelfth Night" will be the ninth straight show to go as scheduled — a record during the outdoor theater's four-year history.

Even the show's superstitious director, Enrico Spada doesn't want to jinx the 8 p.m. start by talking about the weather.

Ironically, the play concludes by teasing Mother Nature, Spada noted.

"There's a line in the song that goes, 'Hey, how the wind and rain, raineth every day,'" he said.

The streak of good weather has helped the community-based troupe have another solid season, organizers said. The last four of 12 scheduled shows are tonight through Sunday at The Common on First Street, all 8 p.m. show times.

The outdoor production is a collaboration between Spada, the artistic director and founder of the program, and the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development.

Cultural Development Director Jen Glockner said the weather has actually enhanced the theatrical experience.

"Last Friday night we had the most amazing sunset as we watched the performance," she said.

Launched in the summer of 2014, Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park stages fully produced performances of Shakespearean plays under the city's downtown evening sky. More than 8,000 people have enjoyed its productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (2014), "Romeo and Juliet" (2015), and "The Tempest" (2016).

The 2017 season is on pace to break the 2,000 attendance mark, weather permitting, with a total of 1,400 men, women and children watching July 20-23 and July 27-30. Many are veterans of the annual summer event, often seeing each year's show more than once.

"Every night, someone talks to me saying it's a tradition and buy a T-shirt commemorating the show," Spada said.

Admission to the shows is free, courtesy of several area businesses, philanthropic foundations, the city and an Indiegogo online crowdfunding campaign.

This year's production is one of William Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, a masterpiece that tells the tale of twins separated by a shipwreck, a countess surprised by her capacity for love, a servant reaching for greatness and mischievous pranks carried to the extreme.

The play is a favorite among several cast members and their director.

"I love the story, the different threads through it and very few minor roles," Spada said.

He noted the majority of the actors have logged time with the local Shakespeare al fresco, but all 17 have regularly acted in The Bard's plays, making this one of the more experienced casts to tread the pavilion at The Common.

This is also the second year Shire City Sessions has performed its summer concert series using the Shakespeare stage at the pavilion as a back drop.

Each Monday after the weekend "Twelfth Night" performances, local and nationally recognized acts fill the downtown with a variety of music. The final show Aug. 7 begins at 6 p.m.

Glockner says each is marketed such to encourage audiences to take in both events.

"Cross promotion is always good for the performing arts," she said.

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.