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Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s summer season opens with a comedy world premiere

Presented by Santa Cruz Shakespeare
Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Fringe Play ‘Orlando’ staged by the company’s acting interns. Photo by Shmuel Thaler
(Shmuel Thaler Santa Cruz Shakespeare/Sentinel)

Love. Hope. Self-Examination. Resiliency. Re-invention. Those are some of the themes being explored during Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Summer Season, from July 10 to August 28 in the Audrey Stanley Grove at DeLaveaga Park in Santa Cruz. The season begins with the brilliant and hilarious world premiere of The Formula by Kathryn Chetkovich, directed by Ellen Maguire in a co-production with Blissfield. Classic Shakespeare, including Twelfth Night, directed by Paul Mullins, and The Tempest, directed by Miriam Laube, will also delight audiences and round out the festival.


“As we begin to emerge from the shipwreck and isolation of our pandemic lives, I find hope in the realization that we do not have to return to the world we left,” says Mike Ryan, artistic director of Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

In The Formula, inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an anxious young researcher experimenting with the neuroscience of attraction struggles to maintain control when the untested formula she’s been working on gets loose at her own wedding — with spectacularly disastrous results. This whip-smart and moving new comedy swaps a lab-manufactured substance for Puck’s “love-in-idleness” flower and asks: Is choosing the right person to marry even possible?

“We can abandon ideas that have outgrown their usefulness, challenge the status quo, and recreate ourselves, our community, and our world with greater compassion and authenticity. This season’s plays encourage us in that great endeavor. In all of them, characters have grown trapped by old ways of thinking and are shocked awake by calamity, self-examination and love.”

— Mike Ryan, Artistic Director of Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Santa Cruz Shakespeare
(Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

“Kathy and I share a love of comedy and a philosophy: Comedy is best played seriously, with high stakes. Our mantra: no sentimental choices,” says Ellen Maguire, director of The Formula. "The Formula offers all the pleasures of a classic romantic comedy by Shakespeare (or even Billy Wilder), while stealthily subverting the genre. The play is all kinds of funny: it’s full of wit, wordplay, physical humor, and situational humor. There’s also music and, at the play’s climax, dance. But—and this is vitally important to me—the comedy is rooted in the humanity of the characters, in their wants and needs. The Formula is also a true ensemble piece; each character has a revelation about love and each character changes in a profound way.”

“The Formula entertains you, makes you laugh hard from beginning to end, while raising questions about the nature of love—questions that might surface a beat after you stop laughing. Or later. Few scripts this smart are this entertaining.”

— Ellen Maguire, Director of The Formula

The Formula’s ensemble cast includes Allie Pratt (SCS’s Pride and Prejudice) and Dion Graham (The Wire). The Formula, the inaugural project of Blissfield, director Ellen Maguire’s NYC-based production company, is also the first world premiere for Santa Cruz Shakespeare. The production is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“It is thrilling to me that Santa Cruz Shakespeare gets to co-produce the world premiere of The Formula,” said Mike Ryan, artistic director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare. “It is the perfect project for us in many ways. It is a play that asks smart, funny, relevant questions about our contemporary world while also referencing the classical work for which the festival is known. The fact that it is also by Santa Cruz playwright Kathryn Chetkovich, and that we can also shine a light on the incredible talent of a local artist, is icing on the cake.”

  • Event
    Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2022 at the Audrey Stanley Grove
    Santa Cruz Shakespeare continues a 40-year tradition this summer, with its 2022 Season running from July 10 to August 28, in person in the Audrey Stanley Grove at DeLaveaga Park. Tickets are now available for matinee and evening performances.

Here’s a look at what else you can expect during Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Summer Festival:


Twelfth Night

by William Shakespeare, directed by Paul Mullins

Twelfth Night introduces us to Viola who is shipwrecked physically, and then introduces her to a cast of characters who are shipwrecked emotionally. Stuck in old ideas of love and grief that have grown so stale as to become something else entirely, the region of Illyria is shocked from Winter into Springtime by the passions of young Viola who disguises herself as a man in order to survive.

Twelfth Night features festival veterans Patty Gallagher, Lorenzo Roberts, Paige Lindsey White, and Charles Pasternak, along with an all-star cast of fresh new faces. This production will be directed by Paul Mullins, one of SCS’s associate artists and the director of The Agitators, Pride and Prejudice, Love’s Labours Lost, The 39 Steps, and Hamlet.


The Tempest

by William Shakespeare, directed by Miriam Laube

The Tempest also begins with a shipwreck, though this is one created by design… more specifically, by the magic of Prospero’s tempest. Determined to destroy those who banished her to the island, Prospero weaves spells of illusion and enchantment with the aid of the spirit Ariel to exact her revenge. As love blossoms before her eyes, Prospero must choose between vengeance and hope. Part tale of revenge and part comedy, The Tempest is full of music, spectacle, and the magic of art. Directed by Miriam Laube, a veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest features Laura Gordon as the magician Prospero.

The Fringe Show

Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s intern production will be announced later this season. Shows are scheduled for Aug. 17 and 23.

Staged Reading Series

The Fringe Staged Reading Series is free to the public and offers theatregoers the opportunity to hear both new work and adaptations of classics. This year’s series includes Nasty, Brutish, and Short by Ian McRae on Aug. 2 and Simply the Thing She Is by Kate Hawley on Aug. 9.