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Shakespeare in the Park

This summer, Shakespeare in the Park will celebrate its third year of free outdoor performances, with its rendition of "All's Well That Ends Well." This play will continue the outfit's tradition of performing Shakespeare's legendary comedies.

"You have a poor girl that falls in love with a rich boy," said Nikki Caulfield, the volunteer director of Shakespeare in the Park, describing the plot.

"The rich boy's not interested in her. She gets the queen's permission to marry him, so he runs away, and she follows him.

"And follows him," Caulfield added. "And follows him."

The somewhat off-putting nature of this romance is not lost on Caulfield, who noted that "there are some very awkward situations.

"I'm interested to see how the cast handles it."

This year's cast will include a mix of veterans and newcomers to Shakespeare in the Park performances.

"We don't always get a huge turnout of actors," Caulfield said, with a common reason many avoid acting in Shakespeare plays being that his writing is "stodgy" or "old-fashioned."

However, as this play makes very clear, that is far from the case. As Shakespeare fans know all too well, the Bard was a master of double-entendres and other underhanded jokes of the sort.

"Sometimes its pretty fun to see that 'Aha!' moment," Caulfield said, referring to the moment when actors realize that a line they had been practicing takes on a whole new -- oftentimes dirty -- meaning."

"They'll be like 'Oh my God, am I actually saying that?'"

However, even Puritans can find something to enjoy and ponder in Shakespeare's timeless themes and the sheer beauty of his prose, which can be seen even in the comedies.

"Bring a lawn chair and a sense of humor," Caulfield said, "and have a good time."

"All's Well that Ends Well" will run June 24-26, and July 1-3, weather permitting.

Regular performances will start at 7 p.m., and Sunday performances will begin at 2 p.m.

Every show is free and open to the public. -- Nathan Kitzmann