Montford Park Players, an Asheville theatrical tradition, is proud to announce their 2016 season, along with a few major changes. The biggest change to announce is that Montford Park Players has decided that all seats for their entire season, both indoor and outdoor shows, will be available on a “pay what you like” basis. Although the donation value for all tickets will remain fifteen dollars, moving to an entirely donation-based model at both the Masonic Temple and the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre will allow the whole community to enjoy Shakespeare and other Classical Theater year-round, regardless of the ability to pay.

“Our business model, from our founding in 1973, has always been to make theatre available and affordable for all,” says Montford Park Players’ Managing Director John Russell. “We are here to serve the community as much as the Asheville community serves us, and we think the best way to do that is to open all of our shows to every potential theatre enthusiast.”

What a season Asheville has to look forward to:

  • “Dark Lady of the Sonnets,” by George Bernard Shaw and “The Upstart Crow,” by Vincent Dowling. Directed by Scott Keel. March 25-April 9 at Asheville’s Masonic Temple, an evening celebrating William Shakespeare: the man behind the pen!
  • “The Asheville Shakesperience” Director TBA. May 13-28. The return of an audience favorite! Some of the best scenes of Shakespeare, opening the summer at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre.
  • “Much Ado About Nothing,” by William Shakespeare. Director TBA. June 3-July 2. This comedic conspiracy to get the bickering Beatrice and Benedick hitched is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays to this day.
  • “Titus Andronicus,” by William Shakespeare. Director TBA. July 8-30. Shakespeare’s brutal revenge tragedy has not been presented by Montford Park Players for many years. This show isn’t suitable for children!
  • “Measure for Measure,” by William Shakespeare. Director TBA. Aug. 5-27. Mistaken identities? Manipulation? Double dealings? Yes, this is another one of the Bard’s classic comedies.
  • “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted for the stage from the novel by Jane Austen. Director TBA. Sep. 2-24. The summer season at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre rounds out with this classic romantic tale from one of Great Britain’s most beloved authors. All of the beauty and splendor will be there in this locally-penned adaptation.
  • “Julius Caesar,” by William Shakespeare. Director TBA. Oct. 28-Nov.13. Montford Park Players opens its “off season” at the Asheville Masonic Temple with this twist on Shakespeare’s model of political treachery as it’s presented with an all-female cast.
  • “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. Director TBA. Dec. 2-23. The holiday institution continues with the traditional Dickens tale of nastiness and redemption. Scrooge, Cratchit and all of the spirits are present and waiting for your family to make this show an annual custom.

In a final big announcement, this season will be overseen by Montford Park Players’ new Artistic Director, Scott Keel. Keel is an acclaimed director and actor here in Western North Carolina. Educated in Theatre at UNC Greensboro, he brings a particularly exacting sensibility to the works of Montford Park Players. He said, “I have been working on and attending Montford productions for years. I’m so

“I have been working on and attending Montford productions for years. I’m so proud to have been chosen from the myriad qualified candidates to bring some new life to these brilliant works,” Keel said.

Previously, Keel has directed “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “King Lear,” “Coriolanus,” “The Asheville Shakesperience,” George Bernard Shaw’s “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” and Vincent Dowling’s “The Upstart Crow” for Montford Park Players, as well as “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” at HART, “Next Fall with Different Strokes,” and has independently produced and directed Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and David Auburn’s “Proof,” among others with Rarely Theatre Productions. He’s also an accomplished actor.

“This season has the potential to be the best yet for Montford Park Players. I plan to do everything I’m capable of to make it so,” said Keel. “We already have some of the greatest plays and novels ever written on the roster. All we need is the drive to present them to the best of our creative abilities and a reach toward excellence.”

Montford Park Players is celebrating their 44th season making the company North Carolina’s Longest-running Shakespeare Festival. For their entire history, they have served the Western North Carolina theater community and the community at large, being the only company solely dedicated to the works of Shakespeare and associated classic works. Since their humble beginnings in Montford Park, they have grown to become one of the most recognizable organizations in Asheville and currently bring in theater-lovers and tourists from all over the country.

For more information about Montford Park Players, please go to www.montfordparkplayers.org or call them at 828-254-5146.

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