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Oak Park Festival Theatre Announces 2023 Season

William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Opens July 15, 2023 in Austin Gardens; Beth Hyland’s Rock Musical “Seagulls” Opens October 16, 2023 at Pleasant Home

OAK PARK, Illinois (March 12, 2023) - The Oak Park Festival Theatre, Oak Park’s premiere Equity theatre and the oldest professional classical theatre in the Midwest, today announced its summer show, William Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, opening July 15 and running through August 19 at Austin Gardens (167 Forest Ave., Oak Park), with previews July 13 and 14. In the Fall, Oak Park Festival Theatre will be producing Beth Hyland’s SEAGULLS, opening October 16 and running through November 19 at Pleasant Home (217 Home Ave., Oak Park), with previews October 12-14.

“This is an enormously exciting time for Oak Park Festival Theatre,” said Artistic Director Peter Andersen. “The company has entered its 48th year and is stronger than ever. With new leadership, we are thrilled to continue bringing audiences classical plays in our home at Austin Gardens. By casting theatre artists from diverse backgrounds, hiring cutting edge designers, and collaborating with brilliant young playwrights to adapt canonical works, we will infuse these classic plays with new vision and energy.”

Beginning its summer season with A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is a nod to the company’s inaugural production in 1975. Audiences who have been following the Oak Park Festival Theatre since the early days will see how Shakespeare’s plays can transform over the decades and how they continue inspiring audiences today.

Midsummer is a story about young love, finding connection, and building community, and I can’t wait to share this audience favorite with all of you this summer,” continued Andersen, who will be directing the quintessential comedy.

The Fall production of SEAGULLS is a thrilling rock musical adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL. Centered around four college students navigating adulthood, relationships, fame, and artistic collaboration, SEAGULLS, directed by Rebecca Willingham, a skilled Chicago storefront director, and written by emerging playwright Beth Hyland, whose plays are incisively current and topical, is a dynamic rock musical that is not to be missed.

“We believe classic stories still have something to teach us today,” said Andersen. “By adhering to our values of inclusivity, diversity, and collaboration, we can re-examine these canonical plays and make them accessible to modern audiences.”


A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows three separate but intertwining stories over the course of one night. First, we watch four young lovers as they flee the oppressive regime of the city of Athens. Meanwhile, a group of mechanicals (working-class laborers) heads into the forest to rehearse a play in the hopes that they might perform it for the Duke. Finally, the King and Queen of the fairies (Oberon and Titania, respectively) are at odds with one another. Their dispute is causing all sorts of chaos throughout the natural world. Each one of these stories eventually becomes more intertwined with one another as all of these different characters encounter each other in the woods. Eventually, as the sun rises the next day, order is restored. The lovers are allowed to be with the person they wish, the fairies have resolved their dispute, and the Mechanicals perform an unforgettable play for the whole court.


Four college students prepare for a battle of the bands contest in Seagulls by Beth Hyland, a rock musical adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Two of them are in it just for fun, but for the vocalist and band leader, music is serious business. For Con, he cannot escape the reputation of his mother, a famous pop singer, who he finds to be a mediocre musician at best. For Nina, music offers the potential to escape from a restrictive family. It also offers the enticing possibility of becoming famous herself. When she is ‘discovered,’ she is swiftly propelled to music stardom but realizes too late that it’s not what she wants. As the various relationships within the band begin to fray, the four friends have to decide if they should hold onto what they once had or if it might be time to let it go. Hyland’s writing is at once moving and satirically funny. There is no better playwright who can catch the voice of the millennial generation as they navigate today’s struggles.

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