Perhaps the most eccentric of the local Shakespeare companies is a little group called Shakespeare Miami. I saw their production of Macbeth which was performed on a big grassy green in Coconut Grove in the style of Shakespeare in the Park a few years ago and I really appreciated their attention to technical detail. More recently, I went to a production of Romeo and Juliet at their temporary home at Shell Lumber(!!!).
It was a truly surreal place to see a performance of Shakespeare, but it really made me admire their perseverance and creativity. This year, they took advantage of a few slightly more traditional performance venues in the area including the Banyan Bowl at Pinecrest Gardens and the Hollywood ArtsPark Amphitheater in Young Circle for their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In investigating additional South Florida Shakespeare venues and events for this post, I spoke to Chris Jahn, a fellow theatre blogger with whom I’ve been in contact over the years. His blog, South Florida Theatre Scene, is by far the most comprehensive source for all things theatrical going on in South Florida from West Palm Beach to the very tip of the state. One of the stories that he shared was about a production of Return to the Forbidden Planet, a lighthearted jukebox musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In the words of Mr. Jahn, “Take the 50’s movie, bring back as much of the original dialogue from Shakespeare as you can fit, bridge the gaps with faux Bard, and then add Rock’n’Roll songs to power the whole thing up. Funny zany fun.” It was produced at Actors’ Playhouse which is definitely one of South Florida’s most high-quality professional theatre companies, but not one which I would usually associate with Shakespeare. Mr. Jahn noted that the production was particularly special because it was narrated by Jack Horkheimer, PBS’s Star Gazer.
Lastly, as a teenager it is particular special to have the opportunity to actually participate in a Shakespeare production which is why I loved playing Hermia in Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The FLCT is the oldest children’s theatre in the state and has a history of mounting many interesting interpretations of Shakespeare over the years with mixed results. However, when teens try to tackle even Shakespeare’s slightly more accessible works like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the results are all too frequently disastrous. And while our production as a whole certainly had its shortcomings, I was very proud of the work I did for this role. Personally, as an actress it was just genuinely so much fun to make the transition from reading and understanding one of my favorite plays to actually getting up there on the stage and living it.
Hope you enjoyed reading about Shakespeare in South Florida- come and visit sometime and see for yourself!