The History of SOS
1995 Outdoor Shakespeare in Rowayton was the brainchild of Megan Crowley McAllister. She suggested the idea to Ezra Barnes, an actor/director, who had experience founding a similar company in Westerly, R.I. They recruited six others to form a Board and then raised the funds for the first production.
1996 Rowayton’s 6th Taxing District gave permission for the first production to be staged in Pinkney Park. This park on the banks of the Five Mile River has a topography that creates a natural amphitheater. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING was the inaugural production. Scheduled for 8 performances, one was lost to bad weather. To the delight of all, an estimated 6,000 saw this show. Donations at the gate and a first Gala helped make for a break-even year.
1997-1999 The number of performances increased from 8 to 12. The plays were TWELFTH NIGHT(1997), THE TAMING OF THE SHREW(1998) and ROMEO AND JULIET (1999). Combining more performances and popular plays resulted in increased audiences. Community support and a growing audience provided financial stability.
2000-2006 In 2000, the season was extended to 16 performances. The plays were A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (2000), HENRY V (2001), AS YOU LIKE IT (2002), THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2003), THE WINTER’S TALE (2004), THE TEMPEST (2005) and MACBETH (2006). The audiences averaged 9,000 per year. The suggested “donation” increased to $15 in 2002 and $20 in 2004. The Gala, now an established event became a major part of fund raising. In 2006 the Board and management decided to find a second venue.
2007-2008 An agreement to test a short season in Baldwin Park was reached with Greenwich. That park, while larger and flatter than Pinkney Park has its waterfront on Greenwich harbor. After Rowatyon’s run in 2007, the show was transferred to Greenwich where 4 performances played to 4,000 people. In 2008, the number of Greenwich shows doubled. The plays were THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (2007) and JULIUS CAESAR (2008).
2009-2011 The company underwent a year of major artistic change with the hiring of Joanna Settle as Artistic Director. The new artistic team’s international credentials created a show that also increased rehearsal time and raised actors’ salaries. The play A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (2009) was her first production. Nearly 14,000 attended, accounting for the largest audience ever. Launched in 2009, was our Apprentice Company and a new play reading series. Joanna directed OTHELLO (2010), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (2011) and ROMEO AND JULIET (2012). Costs were going up and the economy down, so the Board recognized changes had to be made to survive.
2012 -2014 Steven Yuhasz became Executive Director, marking a change in organizational structure. He supervised ROMEO AND JULIET, then the general management of productions with a change to the hiring of an annual guest director. Production was pulled from Greenwich and the budget cut to pay down debt. Back in Rowayton only, AS YOU LIKE IT (2013) directed by Claire Kelly was a critical success. Our debt was halved. Concurrently, Emily Bryan became Director of Education. She expanded Shakespeare in lower Fairfield County schools, promoted the summer camp program, and established our crown jewel anti-bullying program, “Speaking Daggers.” The Apprentice Program continues to introduce young people to the theatre arts. The 2014 show was TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
2015 We celebrated our 20th year with ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
2016 - NOW After working at Shakespeare on the Sound for the last five years as Director of Education, and most recently as the Artistic Associate in 2015, Claire Kelly stepped into the shoes of Artistic Director and staged an enormously successful production of HAMLET in 2016. 2017 offers many exciting opportunities, from educational to our mainstage production of MACBETH, and we hope you'll join us!