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“Best theatre experience anywhere.”

Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: You don't need to head to England to experience the genius of a Shakespearean play. Much closer to home is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival located in Ashland, Oregon. Every year at the end of October you can enjoy on average over ten of Shakespeare's plays performed in both classic and newly imagined style. Separate tickets are needed for each show which is held at one of the event campus's two indoor or one outdoor spaces.
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Level 5 Contributor
96 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Best theatre experience anywhere.”
Reviewed August 13, 2011

I've been coming to the festival for more than 20 years. The acting company here is incomparable. The same actor can bring a tear in a tragedy one night and then have you in stitches in a farce the next day. The festival features 9-11 plays a season in three theatres, offering everything from Shakespeare to today's Pulitzer Prize winners.

This festival is best experienced with significant advance planning as the best tickets can sell out in November and the best places to stay are booked a year in advance.

2 Thank Maureen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Salem, Oregon
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Best play I have ever seen!!”
Reviewed August 11, 2011

Growing up in Southern Oregon I was fortunate enough to see many plays, in the various theaters, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We just got back from seeing Pirates of Penzance. We had balcony seats in the Elizabethan theater. We caught the green show on the bricks. It was a quartet (I didn't catch the name). It was a funky hip-hop beat and I really enjoyed it. I cannot say enough great things about the play. It was amazing! We laughed like crazy and are in love with Stanley, the Model of a Modern Major General. The word play by the actors was astounding. Everyone was just genious! We loved the bobbies that broke into rap, and the pink panther theme was brilliant! Thank you, thank you!!

Visited August 2011
2 Thank wingwalker327
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level 6 Contributor
155 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Pirates of Penzance a Wonderful Romp!”
Reviewed August 9, 2011

Well, this review may not be incredibly helpful due to the fact that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of "Pirates of Penzance" is so good, the next several productions are sold out! I may just be generating desire to see a musical to which you cannot hope to get a ticket ... but I press on.

I attended the production in late July. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has a beautiful home in Ashland, Oregon. We were staying in nearby Rogue River and drove in easily finding our way with the map provided by the Festival on the ticket jacket. We found paid parking very near the theater complex with an easy to use credit card pay system. We were impressed that the parking was only $3, very inexpensive for the whole evening.

We also purchased tickets to the Preface. This is a half hour lecture given about the production we would be seeing. The venue had changed but it was very close to the previous one. The preview was held in Carpenter Hall, just across the street from the Allen Pavilion where the production would be later that evening. We enjoyed the Preface lecture and liked how the presenter included members of the audience in short readings from the lines of the main characters in the musical. She spoke about Gilbert and Sullivan and about the themes and historical context of the musical. The preface tickets are only $6 and we thought we a good value. The preface lecture put us in the mood to understand more and enjoy the production.

We appreciated having time to go have dinner in Ashland at a nearby restaurant. It was easy to find a nice restaurant and have a lovely dinner outside by the creek. We got back just in time for the free Greenshow. The Greenshow changes frequently. We just so happened to be there on a night that the performers were a Mariachi Band. I laughed about this. I live in New Mexico and came all the way to Oregon to see a Mariachi Band? And at a Shakespeare Festival? The band was good (if very loud) and I hear later that one of the current productions is using some Mariachi music so there was at least a tie-in for the music. But hey, the Greenshow is FREE and we appreciated that.

This production is hosted on the main outdoor stage of the Festival. We took jackets and blankets to make outselves comfortable as the temperature can get rather cool. The weather was perfect when we were there but I'd recommend reading the Festival's policies on rain if you are planning to attend an outdoor performance.

Soon it was time to enter the Allen Pavilion for the main show, "The Pirates of Penzance." I love this musical and have seen it several times both live and in video productions. This production stands up well against them all. My group laughed and laughed at the excellent performances of the cast. We were first delighted by the Pirate King played by Michael Elich. He has a deep, rich voice and wonderful comic timing. The young man playing the lead, Frederich, Eddie Lopez, has a wonderful voice and is excellent at being very sincere in his naivete. I was less thrilled with Mabel played by Khori Dastoor. She has a wide vibrato that isn't really my favorite. She is a real opera singer apparently and it shows. I loved Ruth played by Robin Goodrin Nordli. She used the thickest accent of all the players but I had no trouble understanding her.

The production does use light accents in order to make the humor of the piece work. The gag about "orphin" and "often" would fall flat without it but I thought the actors did a good job of making the words clear overall. My parents had no trouble understanding them even though this was their first time seeing the piece.

The director, Bill Rauch, has put his mark on this production in a few unique ways. One, he uses "musical quotes" where snippets of more modern, recognizable songs are brought into the scene. If you are a Gilbert and Sullivan purist, this may annoy. However, everyone in my group LOVED them! We felt the clips brought even more comedy into the scenes and played to the spirit of the comic operetta. Without the over the top acting and humor, Pirates could be pretty stodgy. And two, the other unusual element were the "puppeteers". The director has used six additional cast members to bring a new element to the production. These puppeteers use interesting props like seagulls to set the scenes and another layer of depth and laughter. We enjoyed them very much. I don't want to give too much away but you'll intantly understand when you see the play. The set was used to fabulous effect and the costumes were excellent.

Some people have said on the web that the tickets are expensive. I'd like to address this here. The Oregon Shakespeare company is a group of highly trained professional actors, not to mention the beautiful theaters, and lavish settings of each of the plays. I think the Ashland productions are of the highest quality of theater production available in the US. We paid $57 a seat for out tickets in the B Section which was in an upper balconey. We had a great view. I thought the price quite reasonable given the quality of the production. We enhanced out enjoyment by taking some binoculars in order to be able to see the costumes up close.

So, my final thoughts, if you get a chance to see the Oregon Shakespeare Festivals version of the "Pirates of Penzance" may you enjoy it as much as I did!

Visited July 2011
3 Thank Terri R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Sail to Ashland with The Pirates of Penzance”
Reviewed August 9, 2011

We are not into the words of William Shakespeare, so we were delighted to get tickets to The Pirates of Penzance. Bill Rauch has taken OSF to a new level with the introduction of musicals. After The Music Man in 2009 and She Loves Me last year, the company has branched out to the outdoor theater with this lavish production. The staging is stunning with the feel of ocean breezes, seagulls and warm sand. Who doesn't like pirates? The PIrate King and his band of salty dogs command the stage. In the end, the play is all about love - and we did love it all. Tickets are impossible to find this late in the season, but if you have any flexibility, grab what you can find and head to Ashland for a rousing adventure. Listen carefully to all the word play and be surprised at nods to pop culture, modern music and more. And if you don't understand, GOGGLE IT! Set sail quickly. The pirates won't be in town much longer!

Visited August 2011
2 Thank 77Duck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Oregon Shakespeare Festival - Pirates of Penzance”
Reviewed August 6, 2011

Pirates of Penzance was a delightful production put on by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I highly recommend it! The whole family enjoyed it (2 adults, 2 kids - 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son). The cast kept us captivated and there were a few fun musical surprises throughout the production. Go see it if you can!

(This was our first experience with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and it was a mighty good one. We will return for more.)

Visited July 2011
1 Thank Travel_Bug_Family
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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