2017 Kentucky Shakespeare Festival In Central Park

2017 Kentucky Shakespeare Festival In Central Park

The 2017 57th annual Free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park kicks off its professional season with a comedy, a history, and a tragedy. The season begins with Much Ado About Nothing on May 31st, then Richard II on June 15th, followed by Julius Caesar on July 29h. Each production will run for two weeks and then all three productions will rotate in repertory July 11-23. All three productions will be performed in a single night starting at 4:30PM on July 22nd for the fourth annual Bard-A-Thon.

"This season we have more surprises in store! We're excited to share more performances this summer than we've presented in the past, with a total 66 performances of 8 productions over 11 weeks - all free," says Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace. "We're excited to also unveil our newly reimagined stage, by veteran scenic designer Paul Owen. In addition, we've installed 30 more in-ground benches in the amphitheater and in June, the newly renovated Central Park restrooms will open. We're constantly working to make your Festival experience the best it can be."

Kentucky Shakespeare kicks off the season with the professional production of Much Ado About Nothing May 31. Directed by Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace, the production of this classic comedy is set in the Regency Period of Jane Austen, featuring original music composed by Louisville-native Daniel Gilliam, director of radio for Louisville Public Media. Kentucky Shakespeare veterans and married couple Gregory and Abigail Maupin play feuding leads Benedick and Beatrice with newcomer Alisha Espinosa as Hero and Crystian Wiltshire as Claudio.

Richard II, last presented on the Festival stage in 1993, marks the beginning of Shakespeare's second historical tetralogy, also known as the Henriad. Kentucky Shakespeare will present the four plays over the next four years as their Game of Kings series - following Richard II with Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and culminating with Henry V in 2020, the Festival's 60th season. The production is directed by Associate Artistic Director Amy Attaway, with Neill Robertson in the title role. Richard II features new music created by Scott Carney of Wax Fang. Richard II begins performances June 15.

Kentucky Shakespeare's production of the tragedy Julius Caesar rounds out the professional season, beginning June 29. The production, directed by Matt Wallace, stars Tom Luce as Caesar, Dathan Hooper as Brutus, Brian Hinds as Cassius, and Jennifer Pennington making her Festival debut as Portia. Set in 44 BC, the political thriller explores power and ambition in ancient Rome.

Kentucky Shakespeare's Globe Players Professional Training Program for High School Students will present The Merchant of Venice, directed by Kentucky Shakespeare's Director of Education Kyle Ware, running July 26th - 29th.

Kentucky Shakespeare is pleased to continue their tradition of Community Partners weeks to close out the summer season.

CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center returns to the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival Stage August 1-6 to present the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me Kate directed by John Leffert. The piece is a musical adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew.

The Louisville Ballet also returns to the Festival stage with a new production of Lady Lear, created and choreographed by Roger Creel, running August 9-13.

For the first time, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will present a production on the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival stage - presenting a Merry Wives of Windsor touring Shakespeare production July 30th and August 8th.

The Louisville Improvisors will also present Late Night Shakes every other Saturday during the professional portion of the run with late night improvised Shakespeare shows, June 3rd, 17th, and July 1st and 15th.

The Festival will again feature nightly pre-show entertainment, rotating food trucks from the Louisville Food Truck Association, Will's Gift Shop, and Will's Tavern, featuring Brown-Forman productions, Old 502 Wine, and Great Flood Brewing Company beer.

The June 8, 22, and July 22 performances will feature Open Captioning and Audio Description. New this year, Kentucky Shakespeare will also offer a sensory tour - guided theatrical tours tailored to children and adults who are blind or have low-vision, on July 12th. Audience members experience an interactive pre-show tour allowing them to touch portions of the scenery, props, and costumes as well as listen to the cast describe their characters and appearance. For information on touch tour dates, please contact 502-574-9900. (Audio Description upon request, at least 2 weeks in advance.)

Kentucky Shakespeare again partners with Miller Transportation to offer the Shakespeare Shuttle - free shuttle service from community centers to the park on select nights, July 5th and 20th.

Acting Company

Jon Becraft, Chloé Bell, Shaleen Cholera, J. Barrett Cooper, Alisha Espinosa, Brian Hinds, Dathan Hooper, Jon Huffman, Tom Luce, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Gregory Maupin, Jon Patrick O'Brien, Jennifer Pennington, Monte Priddy, Neill Robertson, James Stringer, Jr., Kyle Ware, Crystian Wiltshire


Amy Attaway (Associate Artistic Director, Director - Richard II)

Matt Wallace (Producing Artistic Director, Director - Much Ado About Nothing and Julius Caesar)


Paul Owen (Scenic Designer)

Donna Lawrence-Downs (Costume Designer)

Casey Clark (Lighting Designer)

Laura Ellis (Sound Designer)

Eric Frantz (Fight Choreographer)

Barbara F. Cullen (Choreographer)

If you would like to schedule an interview with Matt Wallace, Producing Artistic Director, or learn more about the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival please contact Robert Silverthorn III at 574-9900 x11 or rob@kyshakespeare.com.


Kentucky Shakespeare presents the oldest free Shakespeare festival in the United States and is the largest, in-school arts education provider in the Commonwealth. Mission: Grounded in the works of Shakespeare, we enrich our community by presenting accessible, professional theatre experiences that educate, inspire, and entertain people of all ages.

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