What’s onstage at Shakespeare theaters in May

Shakespeare’s comedies take the stage this month, with more than one production of Much Ado, Merry Wives at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, and All’s Well at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. There are more laughs onstage at Shakespeare in Detroit, where The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] begins May 18, and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is staging Kate Hammill’s uproarious adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Plus, Henry V wraps up its run at Baltimore’s Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and a rare revival of Alice Childress’s Wedding Band at Theatre for a New Audience.

Kelly Criss, Peyton Johnson & Vinnie Mascola. The Merry Wives of Windsor, Atlanta Shakespeare Company. Photo: Daniel Parvis.

The lecherous Sir John Falstaff sets his sights on the wives of Windsor in the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, leading to a side-splitting evening filled with mischief, schemes, a buckbasket, a forest full of fairies, and one giant pair of horns. Onstage through May 29.

Love Romeo and Juliet? How about Macbeth? Hamlet? What about A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Well, why not see them all, plus Shakespeare’s other 33 plays, and in only 75-minutes? Shakespeare in Detroit returns to the stage this season after a 4-year hiatus to focus on its educational programming with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]—a co-production with our partners at the African-American Shakespeare Company. Onstage May 18 – 29 in the historical proscenium theater at the former Marygrove College in Detroit.

Sam Adams as Henry V, Henry V, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Photo: Kiirtsn Pagan.

In Baltimore, there are just a few more chances to catch Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Henry V, onstage through May 15. Next month, the Company heads back outdoors to the Patascpo Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD for a summer production of Much Ado About Nothing, beginning June 17.

Critical acclaim is pouring in for Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s rarely-seen dark comedy All’s Well That Ends Well, onstage through May 29. The determined Helen will go to any length to turn her visions of romance into reality—only to discover happy endings are never as simple as they seem. Director Shana Cooper’s visceral approach to storytelling infuses movement and music, providing a perfect complement to Shakespeare’s poetic language.

Pride and Prejudice, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is delighted to revive the most popular show in the company’s history: Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice returns to the stage on May 20 following a heartbreaking early closure in 2020. The cast features familiar faces from the initial production and welcomes newcomers, also CSC fan-favorites, to the beloved show. CSC also celebrates its Grand Re-Opening Season at its Benefit Performance Gala, Revel and Regency, on Friday, May 20.

Benedick (Jeffrey C. Hawkins) in Much Ado About Nothing, Great Lakes Theater and Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Photo: Roger Mastroianni.

May 14 is your last chance to catch the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Stage2 Student Matinee Series 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.

Idaho Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to finally bring their production of Much Ado About Nothing, initially shut down right before opening in March of 2020, back to the stage. Charles Fee directs a delightful production in the spirit of the roaring twenties, previewing May 20 at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater & Reserve.

At The Old Globe, Mala is onstage through June 12: She was always the good daughter, but now her mother, in the twilight of her life, calls her mala—bad to the core. Melinda Lopez’s funny, brutally honest, and ultimately cathartic solo play is an irreverent exploration of how we live, cope, and survive in a challenging moment, and what happens when we strive to be good but don’t always succeed. Catch it in Spanish in eight performances throughout its run. Meanwhile, Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ continues through June 5.

August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned begins this month at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, running alongside Once On This Island and unseen. The Tempest begins previews June 1.

M.L. Roberts (Benedick) and Jonelle Jordan (Beatrice) in Much Ado About Nothing, Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Another Much Ado About Nothingonstage at Seattle Shakespeare Company through May 22, mixes comedy with suspense and gives us Shakespeare’s wittiest pair of lovers, the bantering Beatrice and Benedick. It’s a sparkling screwball comedy that wears its heart on its sleeve and will have you cheering when all the couples learn realities about life, love—and themselves.

May 19 – 21, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival partners with Cinema St. Louis to present their first Shakespeare Movie Weekend, with three free nights of Shakespeare-inspired films for all ages. Taming of the Shrew-inspired teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, kicks off the series on May 19. 1994’s beloved The Lion King, based loosely on Hamlet, follows on May 20. The series ends May 21 with St. Louis-born Vincent Price’s Theatre of Blood, a camp horror-comedy in which a slighted Shakespearean actor, played by Price, seeks poetic and murderous revenge on his critics—killing them in the same ways made infamous by Shakespeare. After the films have rolled, the festival kicks off performances of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Bruce Longworth, on June 1. The production is free, no registration required.

Brittany Bradford as Julia Augustine in Wedding Band, Theatre for a New Audience. Photo: Henry Grossman.

Theatre for a New Audience presents the first New York production of Wedding Band by Alice Childress since its NY premiere at the Public Theater in 1972. Set in the deep south at the end of World War I during the flu epidemic, Alice Childress’s masterpiece traces a devoted interracial couple’s caustic confrontations with anti-miscegenation laws, vicious family racism, community disapproval and finally deadly disease and their own long-buried feelings. Directed by Awoye Timpo, the show runs at Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn through May 15.

Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare in Detroit, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and Theatre for a New Audience are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.