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July 07, 2005

Shakespeare Festival

Ushering in a season dubbed "Reality. Shakespeare," the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival presents The Merry Wives of Windsor, opening tomorrow in the meadow at Evergreen House.

"Reality. Shakespeare," says artistic director James Kinstle, is the festival's way of honoring Shakespeare as the ultimate "pop culture writer" of the Elizabethan era. With that in mind, Kinstle says, performances of Merry Wives will be preceded by Elizabethan-style pre-show entertainment including strolling players, flower sellers and musicians.

Merry Wives, directed by Drew Kahl, stars Lewis Shaw as Sir John Falstaff. Legend holds that Queen Elizabeth enjoyed the bawdy knight so much in the two parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV and in Henry V that she asked the playwright to write a play showing him in love. Other cast members include Bruce R. Nelson, Joan Weber, Dana Whipkey and Sarah J. Wiggin.

Recently cited along with the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival in a New York Times article about summer Shakespeare, the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival will continue its 2005-2006 season at its theater at St. Mary's Outreach Center, 3900 Roland Ave., with Romeo and Juliet (Oct. 6-30), Something Dickens This Way Comes, by Kathy Feininger (Dec. 8-23), and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard (March 30-April 23).

Show times for Merry Wives at Evergreen, 4545 N. Charles St., are 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays, through July 24. The grounds open for picnicking two hours before show time; theatergoers are encouraged to take a chair or blanket. Tickets are $25, general admission; $22 for seniors; and $15 for students. For more information, call 410-366-8596 or visit www.baltimoreshakespeare.org.

-- J. Wynn Rousuck

Wine and Music Fest

The first of the summer wine flows tomorrow night as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra uncorks a four-week series of concert coolers. Each event starts with tastings of various vintages and live music under a tent outside Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, moves inside for programs of listener-friendly orchestral repertoire, then heads back outdoors for dancing to live bands.

This second annual Summer Wine and Music Fest gets under way with guest conductor Douglas Boyd leading Igor Stravinsky's Fireworks and the showpiece by Benjamin Britten popularly known as Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Also on the bill are works featuring separate sections of the ensemble -- Edward Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for string quartet and string orchestra, and Antonin Dvorak's Serenade for Winds.

The wine-tasting starts at 6 p.m. tomorrow, the concert at 7:30 p.m., at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Tickets are $35. Call 410-783-8000 or visit www.baltimoresmphony.org. The same program, minus the wine, will be performed at 8 tonight at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $10. Call 877-276-1444.

-- Tim Smith

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