More than 60 people gathered at Rivendale Park on Friday for a kickoff dinner and fundraiser to support L.A. SummerFest, which brings free Shakespeare performances and other shows to the Santa Clarita Valley.
“It’s a great turnout,” said David Stearns, the event’s executive director. “We just want to expose the community to Shakespeare and share the arts with as many people as possible.”
The opening ceremony Friday offered dinner, wine and a performance, however that was part of a fundraiser to help offset the costs of the free show.
Produced by the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, the series brings concerts, as well as Shakespearian fun, to the summertime, weekend event in Towsley Canyon.
The rebranded show and concert series expands the palette of previous year’s, which in part explains the more inclusive name L.A. SummerFest.
It was previously known as Shakespeare in the Park, but now includes much more.
This year, the portayal of “Henry IV” was only the beginning. From July 12 through Aug. 4 “Henry IV” will be the featured play for Shakespeare in the Park and starts at 7 p.m. each night.
On July 19 SpareTime, a smooth jazz band, will play at 7:30 p.m. as a jazz under the stars event.
The Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band will feature a “Billy Shakespeare to Billy Joel” show July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
HAIR, an American tribal love-rock musical, will be featured at SummerFest on July 27-28 and Aug. 1-2. All four showings will be at 8 p.m. and tickets are required.
The rock musical started in the 1960s during the hippie counterculture movement and the sexual revolution. The musical tells the story of a group of politically active friends who protest the Vietnam War and live a bohemian lifestyle in New York.
A broadway revival of the play came about in 2009 and the musical has since earned a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award.
All events, except the opening ceremony and HAIR performances, are free to attend. Tickets for HAIR and opening day are available at the L.A. SummerFest website, www.lasummerfest.org.