Shakespeare on the Sound
Shakespeare on the Sound is committed to producing affordable, professional open-air productions of the plays of William Shakespeare and related authors in Fairfield County. Working in collaboration with area civic, business and educational institutions, Shakespeare on the Sound presents an annual theatre festival, which brings great dramatic works to a broad audience, creating a forum for learning, appreciation and celebration. Our Educational programming goal is to build community through the arts, giving the works of Shakespeare a vibrant life beyond the summer festival with a variety of school, library, adult education, and art programs as a means to reach a diverse cross-section of people of all ages and economic backgrounds.
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 raised funds for the first production.
1996 Rowayton’s 6th Taxing District gave permission for the first production to be staged in Pinkney Park. The topography of this park, on the banks of the Five Mile River, creates a natural amphitheater. The inaugural production was Much Ado About Nothing. To the delight of all, an estimated 6,000 audience members saw this show.
1997-1999 The number of performances increased from eight to twelve. 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 annual gala was now an established annual fundraiser and community event. In 2006, the Board and management decided to find a second venue.
2007-2008 Greenwich agreed to test a short season in Baldwin Park, which has its waterfront on Greenwich harbor. Now there were two venues: Rowayton and Greenwich. After the Rowayton run in 2007, the added show was transferred to Greenwich where four performances played to four thousand people. In 2008, we doubled the number of Greenwich shows. Plays were The Comedy of Errors (2007) and Julius Caesar (2008).
2009-2011 With the hiring of Joanna Settle as Artistic Director, Shakespeare on the Sound underwent a year of major artistic change. The new artistic team’s international credentials created a show that also increased rehearsal time and raised actors’ salaries. A Midsummer Night's Dream (2009) was her Settle's first production with Shakespeare on the Sound. Nearly fourteen thousand audience members attended, accounting for our largest audience ever. Our Apprentice Company launched in 2009 alongside a new play-reading series. Joanna directed Othello (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2011) and Romeo and Juliet (2012).
2012 -2014 Steven Yuhasz became Executive Director, marking a change in organizational structure. He supervised Romeo and Juliet before electing to bring in guest directors. Back in Rowayton only, As You Like It (2013), directed by Claire Shannon Kelly, was a critical success. Concurrently, Emily Bryan became Director of Education. She expanded our educational programming 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 All's Well That Ends Well.
2016 Claire Shannon Kelly stepped into the shoes of Artistic Director and staged an enormously successful production of Hamlet in 2016.
2017 Our production of Macbeth was deemed spectacular, and our lauded Apprentice Company continued to present its nightly pre-show for children of all ages.
2018 Our twenty-third year was truly magical with our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
2019 We rounded out a quarter of a century with a captivating production of Twelfth Night and a year of successful educational programs in schools across southern CT!
2020 While our programming was cut short by the pandemic, we were able to hold a virtual reunion of our 2017 production of Macbeth, held a Short New Play Festival with new works by 5 playwrights, brought back A Christmas Carol on zoom, and a high school Short New Play Festival in the spring.
2021 Shakespeare on the Sound returned to Pinkney Park for our 25th Season with a crowd favorite, A Midsummer Night's Dream, to rave reviews.