Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park, my kingdom for Shakespeare in the Park! The public, in-park performances of the Bard’s greatest hits began in New York City in the mid-1950s, but the concept of Shakespeare in the Park has since morphed to a summertime tradition worldwide. Massachusetts is no exception, with this summer’s productions from organizations like the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and the Boston Lyric Opera, as well as new outfits like the Cape Cod Shakespeare Festival in Chatham. Not all shows are free or take place under the starry sky, but each offers an opportunity to soak in Shakespearean theatrics this side of the summer solstice. Without further ado about nothing, here are seven ways to catch a midsummer Shakespeare play.
“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” AT GLOUCESTER STAGE YOUTH COMPANY Perhaps Puck was onto something: “If we shadows have offended, / Think but this and all is mended.” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is coming to Gloucester. Find a night of laughter, love, and a few more than mischievous fairies in this hilarious comedy from the Gloucester Stage Youth Company at the beautiful Windhover Performing Arts Center. July 19-23, 7:30 p.m. with an additional 3 p.m. show on July 23, $34 for adults, $15 for children under 18. 257R Granite St., Rockport. gloucesterstage.com
“JULIUS CAESAR” AT OLDE ESSEX STAGE COMPANY “Et tu, Brutè?” Although in this case, we really mean two because the Olde Essex Stage Company’s 2022 outdoor production of “Julius Caesar” is coming to two Massachusetts cities. Whether in Salem or Beverly, don’t miss this classic, and somewhat historical Shakespeare tragedy. Not to worry, these performances are way past the Ides of July. Beverly: July 23, 6:30 p.m., and July 24, 4 p.m., free. 55 Ober St., Beverly. Salem: July 30-31, 6:30 p.m., free. 289 Derby St., Salem. oldeessexstagecompany.org
CAPE COD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL IN CHATHAM For its inaugural event, the Cape Cod Shakespeare Festival in Chatham presents two weeks of performances alternating between “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Twelfth Night” at Kate Gould Park. Bring a picnic blanket and a folding chair, and keep an eye out for English-American author Bernard Cornwell, who will be playing Toby Belch in “Twelfth Night” and Peter Quince in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” July 25-Aug. 4, Mondays-Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m., free. 15 Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham. ccsfc.org
“MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING” AT COMMONWEALTH SHAKESPEARE COMPANY The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is Boston’s Shakespeare in the Park, and has been since 1996. This summer, the organization presents an outdoor, free production of “Much Ado About Nothing” — a comedy of crossed wires and romance. According to its website, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company serves about 50,000 people a year. July 27-Aug. 7 (not on Mondays), 8 p.m., free, Boston Common. commshakes.org
“ROMEO AND JULIET” AT BOSTON LYRIC OPERA Inspired by busker culture, the Boston Lyric Opera presents an operatic adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” to kick off its 2022/2023 season. This opera traces itself all the way back to French composer Charles Gounod’s 1867 version of the classic Shakespeare tragedy. These performances also mark the first time the Boston Lyric Opera has appeared at Boston Common since 2002. Aug. 11 and 13, 8 p.m., free, Boston Common. blo.org
“COMEDY OF ERRORS” AT PITTSFIELD SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK For all those Western-Massers, lamenting the coastal locations of many of this season’s productions, fret not. This free presentation of the aptly named comedy will pop up for several days each week on First Street Common. Aug. 11-28, Thursdays-Sundays, 7 p.m., free. 100 1st St., Pittsfield. pittsfieldshakespeare.org
“MACBETH” AT LANES COVEN Outdoors, among the rocks and the trees and the brambles, is the perfect place to experience Shakespeare’s masterful tragedy “Macbeth.” Fortunately, the Windhover Performing Arts Center has a tent, so rain or shine you’ll see some action. Head to Cape Ann for a performance from Lanes Coven, and be sure to show up early to stock up on food and beer. Aug. 11-21, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Thursdays-Sundays, $25 for adults, $10 for children under 10, $45 for premium seating. 257R Granite St., Rockport. eventbrite.com
Sam Trottenberg can be reached at email@example.com.