Students learn, theater lovers revel in Water Works’ 2015 Shakespeare festival

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published July 22, 2015

 Meredith Deighton stars in the Water Works Theatre Company’s production of “All’s Well That Ends Well” July 30-Aug. 9 at Starr Jaycee Park. The play is a part of the 2015 outdoor Shakespeare in the Park festival.

Meredith Deighton stars in the Water Works Theatre Company’s production of “All’s Well That Ends Well” July 30-Aug. 9 at Starr Jaycee Park. The play is a part of the 2015 outdoor Shakespeare in the Park festival.

Photo provided by Water Works Theatre Company


ROYAL OAK — Water Works Theatre Company is once again offering youth the opportunity to learn from Shakespearean experts and to perform on the outdoor stage through its unique summer programs.

“We have a lot of fun in these programs while we work hard to put on a great show at the end of each week,” said Frannie Shepherd-Bates, Water Works Theatre Company education programs director. “The teaching artists are all extremely excited to do this work, and I think it’s going to be a banner year.”

Shepherd-Bates said learning theater skills in a Shakespeare in the Park setting is certainly unique in this area, and all Water Works’ teaching artists are trained and experienced artists who were handpicked to give students the best possible guidance.

Shakespeare in the Park educational programs include the Water Works Academy, a one-week intensive for high school students, and KidsAct!, a one-week educational experience for students entering first through eighth grades.

Shepherd-Bates said the academy provides an intensive five-day rehearsal  process culminating in two free live performances of “Romeo and Juliet” at 11 a.m. Aug. 1 and 2. Academy students will take center stage and run the show behind the scenes.

“We are still accepting registrations from any students interested in directing, stage managing and design,” Shepherd-Bates said, adding that all of the acting roles have been filled by those previously registered.

The Water Works Academy takes place July 27-31.

Shepherd-Bates said that during the KidsAct! program, staff members will encourage students’ natural confidence and inspire their creative expression.

In the open park setting, attendees will discover the basics of Shakespeare; safe stage combat, including sword fighting; dance; and improv during the Aug. 3-7 program.

Students of the KidsAct! program will participate in a free performance 11 a.m. Aug. 8.

Both programs take place in Starr Jaycee Park, weather permitting, which Shepherd-Bates said enhances the experience and sets it apart from other theater camps.

“Being outdoors all day gives us an increased sense of creative freedom and allows us to really spread out and have a lot of fun,” she said. “Practicing theater skills in an outdoor theater also means that students are more engaged with their audience than they would be indoors.”

Tuition for both programs is $225, and those interested are encouraged to enroll online at or email

Water Works Theatre Company is also gearing up for its 15th annual outdoor theater festival at Starr Jaycee Park.

The troop will present “All’s Well That Ends Well” July 30-Aug. 9 and “As You Like It” Aug. 1-9.

Water Works veteran Terry W. Carpenter returns to direct “All’s Well That Ends Well,” taking theatergoers to Europe during World War I.

With “Downton Abbey” style, the comedic love story focuses on Helena, a commoner, who saves the king’s life and in return is granted her choice of husband. All is not what she thinks when she finds out the high-society man she chose isn’t interested in settling down and is interested in another woman.

“As You Like It” is directed by Water Works veteran Travis Reiff and is the company’s seventh annual daylight family show.

The play is an abbreviated, family-friendly version of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and focuses on Rosalind, who disguises herself as a man and flees to the forest with her cousin after the man she loves is banished by his evil brother. Now disguised as a man, Rosalind finds herself wooed by another woman and unable to reveal to her true love who she really is.

Water Works founder and Executive Director Ed Nahhat said both productions star two immensely strong and rising young actors: Meredith Deighton, for “All’s Well That Ends Well,” and his former student, Anna Marck, in “As You Like It.”

“At 15, Shakespeare Royal Oak is looking back and forward at the same time,” Nahhat said. “Gathering local veterans with the rising young talent in our area, in a professional show, is what Water Work has always been about.”

Nahhat said Water Works always utilizes local professional actors, designers, directors and teachers and is Michigan’s only outdoor professional Shakespeare event.

“This year promises to be fantastic,” he said.

For show dates and times or to purchase tickets, visit