Nashville Shakespeare Festival celebrates The Bard's birthday with April 21 celebration at Cumberland Park

Nashville Shakespeare Festival celebrates The Bard's birthday with April 21 celebration at Cumberland Park

Nashville Shakespeare Festival presents Bardaroo!, a free musical birthday celebration for the Bard April 21 at Cumberland Park.

The event, which takes place from 2 to 6 p.m., marks William Shakespeare's 449th birthday. It's also part of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival's year-long silver anniversary festivities.

For the third consecutive year, Denice Hicks, the festival's artistic director, will stage the "Biggest Balcony Scene EVER." Last year there were more than 100 Romeos and Juliets taking part in the scene and the festival hopes to double that this year. Scripts will be available for participants.

The festival's annual birthday party for the Bard is moving this year to Cumberland Park, located on the east side of the river near the Shelby Street walking bridge.

"Cumberland Park is an ideal location for our family-friendly Bardaroo! birthday party and concert," said Robert Marigza, operations manager and actor for the festival. "It has a beautiful outdoor music venue, great playgrounds for the kids and ample parking."

A limited number of free birthday cupcakes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Various food trucks will be on site as well for purchases. Live music will be ongoing, featuring Nashville favorites like the The Mabels, Adam Burrows and artists from Foothill Entertainment.

The balcony scene begins at 3 p.m., with the Romeos taking their place on the ground and the Juliets heading to the "balcony." After a brief warm-up for the actors with coaching by Hicks, the scene begins with the Romeos' first line, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?"

Costumes are encouraged, but not required. Prizes will be given in the following categories: best star-crossed couple, best dog costume, and most creative costume (adult and children).

"This year in honor of Puck, that mischievous and magical fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream, we will have a station where young and old can create seed bombs made of clay, compost and flower seeds," Hicks said.

"The seed bombs can then be launched into neglected areas around the city in need of beautification. As the flowers grow and bloom, photos will be taken to be put on display during the summer show."

Hicks will direct the 2013 Shakespeare in the Park production of A Midsummer Night's Dream from August 15 through September 15.

Bardaroo! concludes with music from 5 to 6 p.m. provided by DJ IndieChris for the participants' dancing pleasure.

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor outstanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, with The Larry Keeton Theatre's production of The Miss Firecracker Contest set for spring 2016.


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