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Merced Shakespearefest Begins New Season

Auditions set for Jan. 7 & 10

Merced Shakespearefest returns in 2023 with three unique productions, and a special party to boot.
Merced Shakespearefest returns in 2023 with three unique productions, and a special party to boot.

Merced Shakespearefest — the local Shakespeare company — is starting its 23rd season in 2023.

And they’re on a roll.

The 2022 season was complete with three successful shows: in spring, the romance “Pericles” at the Multicultural Arts Center (MAC); in summer, the history “Henry IV, Part 1” at Applegate Park; and in fall, the well-known comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” at the Merced Theatre.

The 2023 season starts again at the MAC with the often-overlooked comedy “All’s Well That Ends Well” on the first two March weekends, March 3 – 12.

Artistic director Heike Hambley enjoys bringing more unknown works of the Bard creatively on stage. This one is the story of a doctor’s daughter, in love with a young duke and determined to get him; a king with a near fatal illness who will be saved by her; a bragging coward being exposed; and several other colorful characters thrown in. Fairy-tale notions and reality are clashing here!

For local performers, the auditions will be Saturday, Jan. 7, at 11 a.m., at the MAC on 645 W. Main Street, and again on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. Some 12 to 15 actors are needed, and all are encouraged to audition. For more information, go to, or call (209) 723-3265.

In the end of April, most likely on the date of the Bard’s birthday, April 23, there will be an entertaining Shakespeare celebration at the Partisan, the popular tavern in downtown Merced. This should be fun!

In June, NOT September, Shakespearefest will bring an outdoor production to the MOAT at Applegate Park. The beloved comedy “As You Like It” will be performed on June 17, 18, 24, 25. The love story of the witty Rosalind and Orlando in the Forest of Arden is appropriate for the beautiful green city park. The production will be directed by Michael Lynch, retired Theater Professor from Modesto Junior College. Auditions are planned in April.

For the final show of the 2023 season, Merced Shakes will be presenting a one-man version of Hamlet. Blurring the lines between modern day and the ancient Denmark of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, this new play tells the story of an actor who can no longer tell the difference between themselves and the characters they play. Adapted by Shawn Overton, this will be a unique soundscape production that explores both the humor and drama of a person living a fictional life.

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