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Shakespeare & Beyond

What's onstage at Shakespeare theaters in April

April! TS Eliot would have you believe it’s the cruelest month, but this April is shaping up to be all right. It features Shakespeare’s 460th birthday and Duke Ellington’s 125th; plus, it’s National Poetry Month! What does that mean? Well, just that it’s the perfect month to take in a show. It’s what the Bard and the Duke would have wanted.

We reached out to our theater partners across the United States to see what’s onstage this month. What are you planning to see? Tell us in the comments!

At the Folger

Here at the Folger, we’re spending spring with a poet who influenced Shakespeare: Ovid! Folger Theatre’s production of Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Metamorphoses, directed by Psalmayene24 begins performances May 7. Shakespeare frequently references Ovid’s poetry and stories in his work, and the production wraps up our What’s Your Story? season with a lyrical look at how stories are passed on and transformed. Metamorphoses also gives us a moment to reflect on both physical and spiritual change as the Folger reopens after its renovation.

First rehearsal for Folger Theatre's Metamorphoses. L to R: Gerrad Taylor, Kalen Robinson, Renea S. Brown, and Renee Wilson. Photo: Peggy Ryan.

April 12 – 14, Folger Consort, the Folger’s early music ensemble, gets the Ovid-ball rolling with a performance of French Baroque settings of Metamorphoses, including Jean-Baptiste Rameau’s setting of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Much Ado About Nothing opens at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company on Friday, April 12. You’re invited to Shakespeare’s witty rom-com, complete with rumors, enemies-to-lovers, and saucy gossip. CSC provides a vineyard-inspired escape for guests with Just Grapes, an on-stage wine bar where you can purchase a glass of wine to enjoy during the show.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Tony- and Emmy-winning Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander makes his Chicago stage debut in the world premiere of Judgment Day, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The irreverent new comedy begins April 23. Alexander plays Sammy Campo, a staggeringly corrupt, morally bankrupt lawyer who’s threatened with eternal damnation by a terrifying angel after a near-death experience. In a desperate attempt to redeem himself, Sammy forms an unlikely bond with a Catholic priest who is having his own crisis of faith.

Much Ado About Nothing begins at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company begins April 12.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s ’70s-set production of Romeo and Juliet begins April 19.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

At Baltimore’s Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Romeo and Juliet forge an unbreakable bond during the Age of Protest. Shattering social tension and a bitter feud between their families cannot overcome the fateful connection these young hearts share. Don’t miss the world’s greatest love story infused with the rhythms and passions of ‘70s Baltimore. Romeo and Juliet begins April 19.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2024 season has begun in Ashland, OR! Macbeth, Born With Teeth, Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender, and Smote This: A Comedy About God and Other Serious Sh*t  are all onstage now. Tickets for all three shows start at $35!

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s tour of As You Like It continues public performances around the Bay Area. Find a full schedule of tour dates and locations on the Festival’s website.

Alan Coyne and Frances Domingos in San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s touring production of As You Like It. Photo: Neal Ormond.

Shakespeare in Detroit

This month, Shakespeare in Detroit hosts its 3rd annual Detroit Sonnet SLAM in partnership with InsideOut Literary Arts. SiD’s company members and students will participate in a friendly battle with Shakespeare’s sonnets vs. contemporary poetry from InsideOut. Join them Monday, Aprill 22 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm as they celebrate performance and literature and determine who will be this year’s Sonnet SLAM champion. Plus, prepare a sonnet of your own and read it during the open-mic portion of the evening.

Shakespeare in Detroit's annual Detroit Sonnet SLAM.

Theatre for a New Audience

Through May 4, Theatre for a New Audience, in association with Rose Theatre, London presents the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s production of Macbeth (an undoing), written and directed by Zinnie Harris. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth begins the play as the driving force who ruthlessly plans and implements regicide. But she soon disappears from the action and re-emerges in the last act, guilt-ridden, hallucinating and tormented by sleep deprivation. What happened? Zinnie Harris imagines what might be the gaps in Shakespeare’s story, undoing the play as we know it and retelling it with Lady Macbeth at its center. When Macbeth (an undoing) had its world premiere in February 2023 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, The Guardian praised its “audacious conjuring of Shakespeare’s Macbeth” and the “superb” Nicole Cooper as Lady Macbeth along with her costar Adam Best in the title role. Now, you can catch Cooper and Best in the Theatre for a New Audience production, onstage through May 4.

Nicole Cooper as Lady Macbeth and Emmanuella Cole as Lady Macduff in Macbeth (an undoing), written and directed by Zinnie Harris. Photo by Ellie Kurttz, courtesy of Rose Theatre, London.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare in Detroit, and Theatre for a New Audience are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.