San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
Free Shakespeare in the Park returns with starring the magnificent Julian Lopez-Morrilas as Prospero. (If you haven't seen this man in action, you're missing out.) Local director Kenneth Kelleher helms this stormy tale of political intrigue, romance and comedy. The Tempest lands in San Francisco September 2 at the Parade Ground in the Presidio, but tours the Bay Area starting June 24. Check out the schedule.
California Shakespeare Theater
Cal Shakes has been churning out beautiful productions ever since Jonathan Moscone (yes, that Moscone) became artistic director several years ago. And now, thanks to the young, hip vision of associate artistic director Sean Daniels, we're seeing productions like The Merry Wives of Windsor--with huge puppets! (Quick, that one closes on Sunday. And yes, puppets can be hip.) Up next in July is Restoration Comedy (because Shakespeare companies don't just do the Bard anymore), followed by Merchant of Venice in August and the capper As You Like It in September.
Marin Shakespeare Company
Up north at Dominican College, Marin Shakes mounts delightful summer fare. And they scored quite a coup this year with Barry Kraft, who plays King Lear starting in July. It's said that Kraft has been in every Shakespeare play. Alice in Wonderland also opens in July, and the season closes with Comedy of Errors in September.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Now in its 25th year, Shakespeare Santa Cruz also launches its season with Lear, playing in rep with As You Like It and Shaw's Pygmalion. This company with its great actors and production values is well worth the short road trip. And if you schedule it right, you can take in the Boardwalk before curtain.
The feisty Woman's Will changed the Shakespeare landscape when they came on the scene a few years ago. In theater, there never seem to be enough meaty parts for women, and this is especially true in Shakespeare's work, though of course in those days men played the women's roles. Woman's Will takes that back and more, casting women in the men's roles (and the occasional man in a woman's role). All of this makes their Twelfth Night an even sweeter treat. It starts touring in July.
Photo of Barry Kraft in Marin Shakespeare Company's King Lear by Stephen Underwood.