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It's another sign of Summer, with Shakespeare in Delaware Park returning from a two-year pandemic hiatus

WBFO News file photo
Shakespeare in Delaware Park returns Thursday with a performance of "As You Like It."

Shakespeare was back on the Hill Wednesday night, as the Shakespeare in Delaware Park crew held their final rehearsal for what will be their first production since 2019.

The nearly half-century-old festival will put on a performance of “As You Like It” starting Thursday. After it closes July 17, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will open July 28 and run through Aug. 21.

The two shows were originally supposed to be performed in 2020, or as Executive Director Lisa Ludwig called it, “the lost year.” So the original 2020 cast was invited back to reprise their roles.

“Most of the people could join us again. Some could not,” Ludwig said, “but we wanted to do our 2020 season in 2022.”

There’s also “The Bard’s in the Yard!” touring Erie and Niagara counties through August.

Costume Designer Todd Warfield was in his chair on the Hill Wednesday night, making final notes on his efforts and what the performers were doing with his work. He’s spent about two-and-a-half months designing the show’s costumes.

“But I'm glad to be designing costumes again, after doing nothing for two years,” he said.

One thing which will be new this year is that the stage will have a name, the Saul Elkin Stage. It honors the man who created the festival nearly a half-century ago and who has kept it going since, as a director, actor and fundraiser, always sitting in a lawn chair keeping tabs on what is going on.

One thing that has stayed the same over the last two years: the audience will be asked each night to help pay for the productions, with the performers moving through the crowd looking for some coin of the realm.

Ludwig said the donations help make the shows financially possible.

“Depending on weather, depending on so many things, our job is to put up the best product we can, tell people about it and hope they show up. We've been blessed for 40 years that every year they show up,” she said. “In my heart, I think people have been hankering to come back to the hill and are looking forward to get this back as the summer must-do.”

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.