Georgia Shakespeare opened its 2012 season last night with an open-air production of The Tempest at Piedmont Park. Previously known as Shake at the Lake, the outdoor series returns this year with a new, less rhymey name — Shakespeare in the Park — after a storm of financial distress and a frantic but successful bit of fundraising in the last year. (I liked Curt Holman's suggestion of calling it Bard on the Sward, myself.) A $300,000 grant from the Charles Loridans Foundation is allowing Shakespeare in the Park to continue at the Legacy Fountain for the next three years.
The company's brisk production of Shakespeare's tale of bad blood, mystical sea nymphs, young love, and old drunks takes full advantage of having a fountain as a stage. In the opening scene, Carolyn Cook's Prospera whips up a wild tempest and the jets blast columns of water around the set as actors careen about on a capsizing ship. Cook delivers a cunning and confident Prospera with a salty sense of humor. Neal A. Ghant's performance as the savage Caliban is achingly contorted and Golem-like while Chris Kayser's Ariel spirits mischief with abandon.
It's a beautiful setting at the Legacy Fountain for staging of this play and a sunset picnic, and more than makes up for the fact that we haven't heard anything about Screen on the Green this year. (AHEM) The play runs through the weekend, and you can score yourself free tickets each morning before the show at Piedmont Park and the Georgia Shakespeare Box Office.
More photos from last night's opening after the jump.
The Tempest Free-$500. Through May 13. Doors at 6 p.m.; play starts at 7:30 p.m. Piedmont Park, Legacy Fountain (use Sage parking deck if driving), 1320 Monroe Drive. www.gashakespeare.org.
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