The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble is growing — moving into a bigger venue, with plans for a longer summer season featuring two shows rather than one, and one of those shows will be a musical.
After four summers producing small shows in the round inside the Gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum, Davis Shakespeare will mount two shows indoors this summer at the Veterans’ Memorial Theater. The evergreen Shakespeare comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” a feisty battle-of-the-sexes between the witty Beatrice and Benedick, will run in repertory with “She Loves Me,” a 1963 musical about courtship and marriage by the songwriting team who would write a much more famous show — “Fiddler on the Roof” — the following year.
It will be the first time that Davis Shakespeare has mounted a musical.
The two shows will run in repertory on weekends from June 26 through Aug. 3, and will be marketed as the Davis Shakespeare Festival. There will be a specially priced two-show package offer (details to be announced); tickets also will be sold individually for each show.
Gia Battista, co-artistic director of Davis Shakespeare, said the move indoors offers a number of artistic advantages.
“Our designers will be able to design for a theatrical space — a much larger stage, with better opportunities for lighting.”
Agreed Rob Salas, co-artistic director, “The technical capabilities (of the indoor venue) are extremely appealing. And it’s more accessible, with better parking. And you will be able to leave your insect repellent at home.”
Salas saw a student production of “She Loves Me” at Harvard when he was studying at that university as an undergraduate, and has entertained the idea of mounting a production here for several years.
“It’s a light-hearted piece, with 10 or 12 characters. And it pairs really well with ‘Much Ado.’ Both shows feature a couple that initially detest each other, and yet ultimately fall in love.”
In addition to the two summer shows, Davis Shakespeare will offer summer programs for teens ages 13-17 and kids ages 7-12.
Auditions will be held soon. Davis Shakespeare is also seeking festival sponsors, as well as volunteer hosts who could provide housing for a visiting festival artist.