Matthew Pecek and Allison Megroet perform “Shakespeare in Love and War” during Shakespeare Royal Oak in Starr Jaycee Park last year.

Matthew Pecek and Allison Megroet perform “Shakespeare in Love and War” during Shakespeare Royal Oak in Starr Jaycee Park last year.

Photo provided by Scott Myers


Shakespeare Royal Oak to embark on 18th season

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 2, 2018

 Mitchell A. Koory and Anne Marie Damman perform “The Taming of the Shrew” during Shakespeare Royal Oak in Starr Jaycee Park last year. This year’s season kicks off July 26 and runs through Aug. 5.

Mitchell A. Koory and Anne Marie Damman perform “The Taming of the Shrew” during Shakespeare Royal Oak in Starr Jaycee Park last year. This year’s season kicks off July 26 and runs through Aug. 5.

Photo provided by Scott Myers

ROYAL OAK — Shakespeare will be returning to Starr Jaycee Park, with the Water Works Theatre Company presenting three shows July 26 through Aug. 5.

The company will present its own twists on three classics — “Much Ado About Nothing”; “The Comedy of Terrible Errors,” by local playwright Don Zolidis; and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” by the group’s teen ensemble.

Ed Nahhat, a lifelong Royal Oak resident and attorney who founded the Water Works Theatre Company in 2001, said he saw a hole that he wanted to fill in offering a professional outdoor Shakespeare experience at a local park.

“We are pioneers, at least in Michigan,” Nahhat said. “It’s important to the quality of life in a community to have this type of event, and so many people have been coming year after year after year.”

He said that each year, the company uses audience feedback and input from the creative community in its discussions for what to present for the next season. He said the company makes its selections in late fall and announces the lineup in January.

The next step is selecting qualified directors.

This year, Gillian Eaton, an award-winning actress, director and educator, will cast her own vision of “Much Ado About Nothing,” setting it in post-World War II Detroit.

“Benedict (and his band of brothers) will come back dressed in American soldiers’ outfits, and Beatrice and her girlfriends will be like Rosie the Riveter types who are able to take care of themselves,” Nahhat said. “It’s really fun.”

Performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and at 5 p.m. Sundays, July 26 through Aug. 5. Tickets cost $25.

The Water Works Theatre Company chose Lisa Melinn to direct “The Comedy of Terrible Errors,” an original world premier commissioned by the group, as its family daylight show. The play is a spoof of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.”

“The actors don’t know the play very well and are forced to put on the show, but they need the audience to help them,” Nahhat said. “It’s a fun improv show written by the talented playwright Don Zolidis.”

Performances of “The Comedy of Terrible Errors” will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and at 4 p.m. Saturdays July 28 through Aug. 4. Tickets cost $15.

The third show, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” will be performed by high school students who pay a fee to learn how to put on a Shakespeare production through two weeks of training and rehearsals.

“They learn acting, dancing, doing combat, and some backstage students do stage management, costuming and props,” Nahhat said.

Performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will take place at noon July 28 and 29 and at 7 p.m. July 20, and guests are asked to donate whatever amount they wish at the door.

Nahhat said people can purchase beer, wine and snacks at the park or bring their own picnic, but no food or drinks are allowed in the theater area.

“We ask that people come an hour early and bring lawn chairs or blankets,” he said. “We build the custom-designed stage and bring the fencing and bleachers in the week before the show and take it down at the end of the festival.”

Jarrod Clark, technical director for Shakespeare Royal Oak, first became acquainted with the group in 2006 through its KidsAct! Education Experience, which he participated in for roughly 10 years.

Clark said he is excited for the upcoming season in his new role as technical director, in which he will be in charge of light and sound. While the outdoor venue poses challenges in terms of rain and moisture, he said he is thankful to get the experience.

“‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays,” he said. “I did it at my high school a few years ago.”

He said he is also excited about working with directors Eaton and Melinn.

“I love the venue. I love Shakespeare,” Clark said. “It’s one of the greatest places to come see a play during the summer. You just bring your chair in the grass, and the sun sets and the fireflies come out, and it’s a great atmosphere.”

Starr Jaycee Park is located on 13 Mile Road, east of Crooks Road.

For more information about Shakespeare Royal Oak, call (248) 399-3727 or visit www.shakespeareroyaloak.com.