What’s onstage at Shakespeare theaters in April

April 23 is Shakespeare’s birthday, and this month offers a plethora of ways to celebrate!

The Folger celebrates the Bard’s birthday with an online trivia tournament.

Get your thinking caps on! Saturday, April 23 at 4 pm ET, the Folger marks Shakespeare’s birthday with a virtual trivia game. This fast-paced multi-round quiz will cover everything from general knowledge to pop culture. With ticket giveaways and sneak peeks at this summer’s Folger Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this is a fun-filled afternoon is the perfect party for the Bard’s birthday.

Can’t join us for trivia? Explore even more ways to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with us: write a sonnet,  speak a speech, make a picture, watch our film version of Macbeth, and much, much more.

Lijesh Krishnan (Richard) and Adam Torrian (Bolinbroke). Photo: Joseph Giammarco

Richard II begins April 16 at San Francisco’s African-American Shakespeare Company. The production uses Naomi Iizuka’s Play On! modern-verse translation. Director L. Peter Callender re-envisions the show as a memory play: “We begin the play at the end,” Callender says, “with Richard in prison, as a way for the audience to immediately feel a sense of powerlessness from the most powerful character in the play.”

At the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, a new production of William Wycherley’s 1675 play The Country Wife begins April 14. A satirical and bawdy comedy focused on the vices and hypocrisies of Restoration London, The Country Wife has been admired as a farce, condemned as immoral or frivolous, and praised as a sharp and sophisticated drama. Wycherley satirizes female hypocrisy, true and false masculinity, and human folly through three neatly linked plots. His racy prose dialogue creates an energetic and complex comedy of sex that combines cynicism, satire and farce.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Henry V opens April 22. King Henry V has just ascended to the throne, but before he can rule a nation—let alone conquer another—he must prove himself as a leader of men. Armed with some of the most powerful speeches in the Bard’s arsenal, Henry and his “band of brothers” will overcome overwhelming odds. Samuel Adams, who played Mozart in Folger Theatre’s 2019 production of Amadeus, takes on the role of Henry V.

Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with Chicago Shakes. L: Eleri Ward. Photo: Chris Plevin. | R: Emma Ladji as Juliet the company in “Romeo and Juliet,” adapted and directed by Marti Lyons. Photo: Liz Lauren.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrates Shakespeare birthday with productions and programs onstage, online, and in classrooms across the country. Beginning April 18, students and teachers can engage with the free Stream & Study initiative, which pairs a streamed production of Romeo and Juliet with a suite of teaching materials—making Chicago Shakespeare’s nationally recognized arts-in-education programs accessible to classrooms nationwide.

Then, Shakespeare’s rarely seen dark comedy All’s Well That Ends Well takes the stage in the Courtyard Theater on April 22, in a new production staged by acclaimed director Shana Cooper.

Finally, their free virtual celebration TO BE, a 45-minute program featuring musical performances and special guests, premieres on April 23. The event includes a performance by the sensational Eleri Ward, whose debut indie-folk Sondheim album, A Perfect Little Death, gained a viral TikTok following and was hailed by Forbes as “a harmonious marriage of musical theater and indie folk music, with hauntingly beautiful arrangements.”

Crystian Wiltshire (Antipholus of Syracus) and Justin McCombs (Dromio of Syracuse) in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s “The Comedy of Errors.”

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company combines slapstick comedy with Golden Era Vegas with their production of The Comedy of Errors, onstage through April 30. The company has partnered with Cincinnati’s American Sign Museum to incorporate original antique neon signs into the Sin City-inspired set. With love triangles, a jealous wife, a deranged doctor, and not one but two, sets of identical twins, this music-filled blockbuster of a show is one you won’t want to miss!

On Saturday, April 16, from 11 am – 1:30 pm, join The Old Globe for their annual event Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!, where everyone can celebrate the Globe’s resident playwright with Henry 6–themed and family-friendly fun. Participate in a stage fighting demonstration, learn to craft roses, enjoy a masquerade ball, apply to the sonnet competition to win prizes, and get ready for more surprises!

In Ashland, Oregon, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is kicking off its 2022 season. Hit musical Once on this Island and Mona Mansour’s new play unseen both begin April 12.

Spring is the perfect time for a romantic romp, and Seattle Shakespeare Company delivers one with Much Ado About Nothing. Allison Narver directs the production which begins previews on April 26 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “Much Ado is my favorite play,” said Artistic Director George Mount. “I adore directing it, being in it, watching it, reading it. I love the wit, the characters, the romance. And I’m so glad that Allison Narver, who staged our daffy production of The Government Inspector, is back to put her spin on this comedy.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Photo: Nile Hawver

Next month, join Commonwealth Shakespeare Company for three public performances of their Stage2 Student Matinee Series’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A unique take on the material, Director Bryn Boice sets Oberon and Titania’s fairy kingdom in the free-wheeling late ’60s, while Athens’s human residents live in the uptight mall-culture of the late ’80s. The company’s Stage2 Student Matinee Series productions are presented using Shakespeare’s original text, cut for length to under two hours without intermission. Stage2 shows highlight themes, ideas, and language that will resonate strongly with a student audience and are typically created with grade 6-12 curriculum in mind. Catch the show at 2 pm and 7 pm on May 7, or at 7 pm on May 14.

African-American Shakespeare Company, Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Shakespeare Company are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.