Sitting under the stars in an idyllic wooded setting, laughing at and with the characters in a Shakespearian comedy, on a warm summer evening, is a gift for the whole family.  Connecticut Free Shakespeare is wrapping up this delightful present in a trio of locations: the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport at 8 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday July 21-25 and 28-31, on the Guilford Green at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday August 4-8 and on the town green in Old Saybrook Wednesday (9 p.m.), Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (8 p.m.) August 11-12 and 14-15.

Open your gift and out will pop a colorful and festive version of the Bard’s “Twelfth Night” where nothing is at it seems, mistaken identity is the rule, romantic triangles are hexagonal in shape  and Feste the Fool (Eric Nyquist) has a song to fit every circumstance.

Producer Bert Garskof and director Ellen Lieberman, for the eleventh summer season, have assembled a talented troupe of thespians to enact this comedy of twins separated by a shipwreck, who each believe the other has died.

Viola, an enchanting and resourceful Katrina Foy, disguises herself as a page in the employ of Duke Orsino (Tim Shelton) of Illyria, adopting the persona of a male and the new name of Cesario.  As Cesario, she goes to the home of the lovely Lady Olivia (Abbie Killeen) to woo her for her master.  Of course, Olivia falls in love with the masquerading Cesario while Cesario loses her heart to the Duke.

At the same time, the drunken Sir Toby (Ian Eaton) and the silly Sir Andrew (Bob Braswell), with the aid of Olivia’s gentlewoman Maria (Mino Lora) and everyone’s friend Fabiana (Uma Incrocci) delight in tricking the pompous head servant Malvolio (Andrew Clateman) into believing his mistress Olivia is in love with him.

Confusion, concealment and comedy run rampant, especially when Viola’s twin Sebastian (Josh Vink) arrives in Illyria with the gypsy woman Antonia (Channie Waites) who rescued him from the sea.  But in true Shakespearian style, all the romantic arrows ultimately strike the appropriate hearts and “all’s well that ends well.”

Gather ye rosebuds, blankets, lawn chairs and picnics for this open-air feast.  Call 203-393-3213 for more information or go online to www.CTFreeShakespeare.org.  Donations are most welcome.  Shows are cancelled if it rains. 

In addition,  “The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk,” a play for children will be performed at 12:30 p.m. this summer at a variety of locations.  Check the website for the performance schedule.  A free theater camp program will culminate in an edited version of “Twelfth Night” at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport at 3:30 p.m. on July 23.  Dandelion Production, the parent company of CFS, produces shows about HIV/AIDS prevention and education, diversity education, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, date rape and sexual harassment prevention, non-violent conflict resolution and empathy for schools in the Northeast.

Introduce your children and grandchildren to the Bard as CT Free Shakespeare celebrates one of his best-known and most fun-filled treasures.

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