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  • Lynne Shelby

A Midsummer's Night at the Theatre

For me, one of the best things about the summer is the chance to see a show performed in the open air.

With its stage built out over Lake Thun, and with a backdrop of the Alps, the Thunerseespile in Switzerland has to be one of the most beautiful theatres in the world.

It was here that I saw Aida (the musical, not the opera), and watching the characters of Aida and Radames sing a love duet, ‘Written in the Stars,’ as the sun sank behind the mountains and and the stars came out in the night sky, was wonderful – one of the most memorable nights I’ve ever had in the theatre.

In the summer months, the two thousand year old Arena di Verona in Italy, once a site where gladiators fought, is transformed into a spectacular venue for opera. I have to admit that I’m not a particular fan of opera – its plays and musical theatre that I like – but I found watching Carmen in the Arena an amazing theatrical experience.

It was only when the rain began as the singers and dancers left the stage after taking their bows, that I realised the dramatic light and sound effects that had accompanied the final act were actually thunder and lightning!

Heading to America and New York, a must-see for theatre lovers is ‘Shakespeare in the Park,’ – free open-air productions of Shakespeare's plays in Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre, with the Belvedere Castle as a backdrop. These productions are very popular - people start lining up for tickets at 6am, when the park gates officially open!

Of course, you don’t need to go abroad to see an open air production of a play or musical. There's something very special about walking through Regent’s Park in London, in the dusk, to the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and watching a performance of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ – it’s very easy to imagine that the trees overlooking the stage are inhabited by Oberon, Titania and their fairies.

Heading to Leicestershire, the wonderful Kilworth House Theatre puts on productions in a woodland glade near a lake on the Kilworth Estate – another fabulous setting in which to spend a summer’s night at the theatre.

And in Cornwall, there is the spectacular Minack Theatre. Carved into granite cliffs high above the sea, it was created by a local theatre lover back in the 1930’s, and its first production, ‘The Tempest,’ was lit by car headlights!

I love going to the theatre and I visit London’s West End as often as I can, but watching a play or a musical on a summer’s night under the stars is simply magical.

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