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Naked Shakespeare comes to Peaks Island this summer

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Naked Shakespeare comes to Peaks Island this summer

PORTLAND — Naked nights will be coming soon to Peaks Island – just in time for the balmy weather.

Starting July 12, Westbrook-based theater troupe Acorn Productions will bring Naked Shakespeare to the Inn on Peaks Island.

Producer Michael Levine, an island resident, said between six and seven actors will make use of both the inn's indoor bar area and outdoor tent usually used for weddings for their performances.

"This is sort of a new format for us," Levine said. "We've very excited about it. My gut feeling is that it will be well-received."

It will not be the last time the group brings Shakespeare to the island. Acorn just received a $7,500 grant for a 2011 production at Battery Steele.

While that event is still in its infant stages, Levine said actors will likely be spread throughout the former fort, whose rooms will be decorated for specific scenes, all of which will revolve around a central theme.

"It will be a walk-through event," he said. "It will be a little non-linear. You will have to piece it together."

Acorn Productions has been performing popular Shakespearean "Sonnets and Soliloquies" at the Wine Bar on Wharf Street in Portland for the last three years. The group called the series Naked Shakespeare because of the lack of props and scenes.

Audience members are given cue cards so they interact with the performers, who casually work the room while delivering lines from the world's most famous romantic bard.

Levine said Acorn actors first tried bringing Naked Shakespeare to the island in May 2009, but found only moderate success.

But when the group performed some of Shakespeare's love scenes last February, the crowd was packed, Levine said, prompting the group to rethink its Peaks productions.

"We got both islanders and off-islanders that came to see it," he said.

While the Wine Bar performances are very relaxed, Levine said the Peaks show will have more of a dinner theater vibe.

In the tent, Levine said the audience may order from a menu, with dishes to be renamed using Shakespearean themes. The show will consist of monologues as well as scenes from Shakespeare's most famous comedies, including a new performance of a scene from "A Midsummer's Night Dream."

Audience members will also be able to relax in the indoors bar, where actors will recite Shakespearean monologues, much as they do at the Wine Bar in Portland.

The performances will run for six weeks, starting July 12. While performances will be on Mondays through Aug. 9, the last three shows will take place on Wednesdays.

As far as start times, Levine says it will be around 6 p.m.

"It's a little flexible," he said. "I live on Peaks and island time is sort of like that."

Off-islanders can take the 5:35 p.m. Casco Bay Lines ferry to the island and the 8:40 p.m. ferry to return to the mainland, Levine said.

Admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for children, but does not include the cost of dinner.

For more information, log onto AcornProductions.org.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net