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A Loaf, the Bard and Thou

July 04, 2002|DIANE HAITHMAN and SORINA DIACONESCU | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Whether you're lounging outside a Santa Barbara County vineyard, or looking around for a newspaper to tuck under you at Pershing Square in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, there's a plein-air Shakespeare for nearly everyone. And every budget. Some shows are free; others cost up to $50. Here's a guide to 10 productions in the coming months, from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

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The Globe Theatres

Lowell Davies Festival Theater, Balboa Park, San Diego

(619) 239-2255 www.theglobetheaters.org

Long Tradition

San Diego's Globe Theater hasn't been around quite as long as London's, which opened in 1599 with "As You Like It" (and you can bet at least one Elizabethan critic pulled out his quill and wrote: "I didn't."). Still, with a Shakespeare tradition dating back to 1935, the Globe is a good bet for solidly professional Shakespeare.

This year's offerings in the open-air Lowell Davies Festival Theater are "The Taming of the Shrew" directed by John Rando (Tony winner for Broadway's "Urinetown" and director of Neil Simon's "The Dinner Party") and the romantic adventure "Pericles: Prince of Tyre," directed by Globe newcomer Darko Presnjac. An Internet search turns up no information about Presnjac (O what a tangled Web) but a Globe spokeswoman calls him a bright young talent. If not, let us pray that the audience does not carry on the tradition of Shakespeare's original Globe Playhouse and communicate its displeasure by throwing rotten tomatoes.

Food

No nibbles allowed in the theater, but pub grub--soups, light sandwiches, desserts--and a full bar are available within easy reach at Lady Carolyn's. Order a picnic in advance, (619) 239-2255.

Amenities

Metal seats in a three-tier amphitheater formation. Rent you a blanket to ward off the evening chill for $3. Indoor restrooms with disabled access. Parking is free in Balboa Park lots; trams shuttle passengers to the Globe complex.

Tickets

"The Taming of the Shrew," Tuesdays through Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends Aug. 4. "Pericles," Tuesdays through Sundays, 8 p.m., Aug. 25 through Oct. 6. $15 to $50. Discounts for students, seniors and active military personnel.

Shakespeare Santa Barbara

Fess Parker Winery, 6200 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos

(805) 231-5088

www.shakes-sb.com

New Vintage

Another "Midsummer Night's Dream"--well, what were you expecting in August, "The Winter's Tale"? But you couldn't ask for a more appropriate setting than a winery near bucolic Santa Barbara for this oft-performed story of young lovers drunk with passion. Company artistic director Jennifer Johnson, a native of Northern California wine country, decided to plant her professional roots in a similarly intoxicating locale. Check out the Web site; it offers both a cast list and a wine list.

According to the latter, the 1999 Syrah is savory and flavorful, with an "open-knit style" and broad appeal. It's less easy to rate the appeal of this "Dream"--set in a fictional neoclassical Greece--since the Shakespeare Santa Barbara company has not had time to age properly; this summer marks the company's first festival. But with a cast of professional actors and a backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains, 2002 could be a very good year.

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Food

Bring your own eats (but not your own wine) or pre-order a $21 "Midsummer's Night"-themed dinner at the Web site. Choose among the Lysander, a grilled sandwich with rosemary-roasted chicken; Titania's Delight, pan-seared Pacific salmon and grilled asparagus; and Puck's Garden Supper, a spring vegetable salad with yellow lentils. Wine is available for purchase, and tours and tastings are available before 5 p.m.

Amenities

Seating is on the lawn, with accommodations for elderly and disabled patrons. Bring blankets, low chairs and hats to deflect the late afternoon sun. Indoor restrooms. Free on-site parking.

Tickets

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," Fridays through Sundays, 6 p.m., Aug. 9 through Sept. 1. $20; students and seniors, $15; under 12, $11.

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Troubadour Theater Company

Miles Memorial Playhouse,

Reed Park, 1130 Lincoln Blvd.,

Santa Monica, (213) 303-0096

www.troubie.com

Quick and Easy

It ends kool, and it ends fast: Director Matt Walker crashes through "All's Kool That Ends Kool," a takeoff on the comedy "All's Well That Ends Well," in a breathtaking 75 minutes--stoking the disco inferno with classics by Kool and the Gang ("Jungle Boogie," "Celebration.") "All's Kool" continues this professional troupe's tradition of desecrating Shakespeare to contemporary pop music; previous titles include "Twelfth Dog Night" and "A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream." This season's production features big dance numbers, a big chorus, a five-piece band and wacky eye-candy costumes. But, says one enthusiastic company member, "Anybody who honestly wants to hear the real Shakespeare text will not want to see this show."

Food

No food on site, but within a few blocks are Montana Avenue and the Third Street Promenade. Restaurants also dot Lincoln and Wilshire boulevards.

Amenities

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