BOZEMAN — Montana Shakespeare in the Parks will give free performances of “Henry IV, Part I” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” this summer in communities in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

The company will travel more than 7,000 miles during the season, which runs from June 12 through Sept. 3, and perform in 61 communities. All performances, except the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, are free and hosted in local parks and public spaces, making them accessible to all.

Kevin Asselin, executive artistic director, will direct “Henry IV, Part I,” while Chicago-based director Marti Lyons will direct “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Lyons returns as guest director after having worked at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, The Actors Theatre of Louisville and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The 11 professional actors that will tour with the company were chosen out of a highly-competitive pool at auditions in Bozeman, Chicago, Houston and Minneapolis.

Asselin said the recent centennial of World War I inspired him to set “Henry IV, Part I” in that era.

“The play has such a deep relationship with the true meaning of honor,” Asselin said. “Shakespeare gives us multiple viewpoints on what honor means to us as individuals. And it has a great relationship to Montana. If you look at the veteran population through the past 125 years, Montana leads the nation in terms of veterans per capita. I felt the connection would be exciting for us to explore.”

One of Shakespeare’s most popular characters, Falstaff, is featured prominently in both plays. The drunken knight is a foil to Prince Hal in “Henry IV” and is the catalyst for the comic action in “Merry Wives.” Returning actor Steve Peebles will play the role.

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is an outreach program of Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture. Grants, corporate sponsorships and hundreds of individual donors support the free performance.

This year’s major sponsors include: the National Endowment for the Arts; ArtWorks; the Gilhousen Family Foundation; the Gianforte Family Foundation; Pheasant Farms; Spectec: Thunderbird International Corporation; the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Foundation; the Montana Arts Council; Barnard Construction; D.A. Davidson and Company; KBZK; ERA Landmark; Yellowstone Public Radio; and Sibayne-Stillwater.

For more information on the plays and an up to date tour schedule, visit MSIP’s website at shakespeareintheparks.org. The full tour schedule is listed below.

  • June 12, Wednesday, Bozeman, “Henry IV Part I,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 13, Thursday, Bozeman, “Henry IV,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 14, Friday, Bozeman, “Henry IV,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 15, Saturday, Bozeman, “Henry IV,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 19, Wednesday, Bozeman, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 20, Thursday, Bozeman, “Merry Wives,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 21, Friday, Bozeman, “Merry Wives,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 22, Saturday, Bozeman, “Merry Wives,” 8 p.m., MSU Grove
  • June 24, Monday, Lewistown, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Frank Day Park
  • June 25, Tuesday, Hobson/Utica, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Utica Clubhouse Lawn
  • June 26, Wednesday, Malta, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Courthouse Lawn
  • June 27, Thursday, Wolf Point, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Faith Home Park
  • June 28, Friday, Sidney, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Veterans Memorial Park
  • June 29, Saturday, Glendive, “Henry IV,” 7:00 p.m., Makoshika Park Hiatt Amphitheater
  • June 30, Sunday, Beach, N.D., “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Beach Swimming Pool Park
  • July 1, Monday, Ekalaka, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Dahl Memorial Nursing Home  
  • July 2, Tuesday, Forsyth, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Rosebud County Courthouse Lawn
  • July 3, Thursday, Miles City, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Riverside Park
  • July 5, Friday, Sheridan, Wyo., “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Kendrick Park Bandshell
  • July 6, Saturday, Birney, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Poker Jim Butte
  • July 7, Sunday, Big Timber, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Lions Club Park
  • July 8, Monday, Hardin, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., South Park
  • July 9, Tuesday, Roundup, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Roundup City Park
  • July 10, Wednesday, Red Lodge, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Lions Park
  • July 11, Thursday, Billings, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Pioneer Park
  • July 12, Friday, Billings, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Pioneer Park
  • July 13, Saturday, Powell, Wyo., “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Washington Park
  • July 14, Sunday, Cody, Wyo., “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Canal Park
  • July 15, Monday, Worland, Wyo., “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Sanders Park
  • July 16, Tuesday, Columbus, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Heritage Park
  • July 17, Wednesday, Absarokee/Fishtail, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Fishtail Family Park
  • July 18, Thursday, Driggs, Idaho, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Driggs City Plaza
  • July 19, Friday, Pocatello, Idaho, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Idaho State University Quad
  • July 20, Saturday, Pocatello, Idaho, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Idaho State University Quad
  • July 21, Sunday, Gardiner, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Arch Park
  • July 22, Monday, Chico Hot Springs, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Main Lawn
  • July 24, Wednesday, Superior, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Mineral County Fairgrounds
  • July 25, Thursday, Plains, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Sanders County Fairgrounds
  • July 26, Friday, Trout Creek, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Trout Creek Park
  • July 27, Saturday, Sandpoint, Idaho, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Memorial Field
  • July 28, Sunday, Liberty Lake, Wash., “Merry Wives,” 5 p.m., Pavilion Park
  • July 29, Monday, Libby, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Libby Elementary School Amphitheater
  • July 30, Tuesday, Eureka, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Historical Village
  • July 31, Wednesday, Kalispell, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Woodland Park
  • Aug. 1, Thursday, Seeley Lake, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Double Arrow Resort
  • Aug. 2, Friday, Sweet Pea Festival, “Henry IV,” 3:45 p.m., Lindley Park
  • Aug. 4, Sunday, Sweet Pea Festival, “Merry Wives,” 5 p.m., Lindley Park
  • Aug. 5, Monday, Helena, “Henry IV,” 6:30 p.m., Pioneer Park
  • Aug. 6, Tuesday, Helena, “Merry Wives,” 6:30 p.m., Pioneer Park
  • Aug. 7, Wednesday, Cut Bank, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Cut Bank City Park
  • Aug. 8, Thursday, Fort Benton, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Fort Benton City Park
  • Aug. 9, Friday, Great Falls, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., University of Providence
  • Aug. 10, Saturday, Havre, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., East Lawn MSUN
  • Aug. 11, Sunday, Conrad, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Conrad City Park
  • Aug. 12, Monday, Choteau, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Skyline Lodge
  • Aug. 13, Tuesday, Townsend, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Heritage Park
  • Aug. 14, Wednesday, Boulder, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Jefferson County Fairgrounds
  • Aug. 15, Thursday, Salmon, Idaho, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Island Park
  • Aug. 16, Friday, Anaconda, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Washoe Park
  • Aug. 17, Saturday, Butte, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Stodden Park
  • Aug. 18, Sunday, Cooke City-Silver Gate, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Silver Gate Park
  • Aug. 19, Monday, Big Sky, “Merry Wives,” 5:30 p.m., Town Center Park
  • Aug. 21, Wednesday, Deer Lodge, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Old Prison Grounds
  • Aug. 22, Thursday, Hamilton, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Sapphire Lutheran Homes
  • Aug. 23, Friday, Philipsburg, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Winninghoff Park
  • Aug. 24, Saturday, Charlo, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Palmer Park
  • Aug. 25, Sunday, St. Ignatius, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Good Old Days Park
  • Aug. 26, Monday, Missoula, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., UM Oval
  • Aug. 27, Tuesday, Missoula, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., UM Oval
  • Aug. 28, Wednesday, Dillon, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., UM Western Legacy Plaza
  • Aug. 29, Thursday, Whitehall, “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Whitehall Rodeo Grounds
  • Aug. 30, Friday, Thayne, Wyo., “Merry Wives,” 6 p.m., Thayne Community Center lawn
  • Aug. 31, Saturday, Livingston, “Henry IV,” 6 p.m., Shane Lalani Center for the Arts Parking Lot
  • Sept. 1, Sunday, Bozeman Family/Grad Housing, “Henry IV,” 3:30 p.m., Family/Grad Housing
  • Sept. 2, Monday, Belgrade, “Merry Wives,” 3:30 pm, Lewis & Clark Park

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