Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Brian Collins / Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

The cast and crew of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s The Winter’s Tale have shared three weeks of rehearsals and 17 and a half performances since they gathered for their first read through at the end of May.

There was one complete rain out and one at intermission — but all in all, healthy crowds, nearly 23,000 people, for one of Shakespeare's lesser known titles. The final installment of the series From Page to Park explores what it means for a company to close a show.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The sound of power drills pierced the air on a humid Monday morning as several dozen crew members dismantled the set of "The Winter’s Tale" in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo.

The evening glow from the set’s blue and gray spires had long faded. From a grassy hill, Greg Mackender, resident composer and musician for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival stood taking photographs on his camera phone before packing away his instruments.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Winter’s Tale is well underway. But it takes a lot of time and effort – and people — to put the show together. For our series, From Page to Park, we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

About two weeks ago in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo., actors, musicians, designers and directors were working through perhaps the most intricate part of staging a play, a rehearsal called tech.

Breaking it down and putting it back together

Roger Ridpath / Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival begins this weekend and while the play may be the thing, there’s live music too.

During performances of The Winter's Tale, there are three musicians on stage, including resident composer Greg Mackender on percussion and mallets, Sascha Groschang on cello and Laura Parks on violin.

"I left a lot of openings for impromptu types of things," says Mackender. "There are other spots where they can get a little livelier, we can play around a little bit."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For more than two decades, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has turned Southmoreland Park into a place where Hamlet posed questions, Macbeth’s witches toiled and troubled, and Romeo and Juliet professed their love. This year’s production of The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, will come to life thanks to like-minded artists whose collective goal is to make the play leap effortlessly From Page To Park.

Getting started

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This summer, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival presents the tragicomedy, The Winter's Tale, in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo.

It marks the first time the 22-year-old festival has staged the play, which explores the nature of jealousy.

Netflix

In the Netflix series, House of Cards, actor Nathan Darrow, a native of Kansas City, plays Edward Meechum. It's an understated role, but he's the keeper of secrets as the bodyguard and driver for ruthless Congressman Francis "Frank" Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.

For 18 of its 21 seasons, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has been running summer camps for kids in conjunction with the play or plays in Southmoreland Park.

This summer, camps were held at nine different locations, where a three-week session called Shakespeare Unbound is reserved exclusively for girls ages eight to 15.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

This year, in its 21st season, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival presents the romantic comedy, As You Like It. The production features conflicts between brothers, and a circuitous path to love.

Two actors – a father and son - talk about the challenges of acting in the same production and carrying on a family tradition.

A childhood in theaters leads to a career on the stage

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This year's Heart of America Shakespeare Festival production of As You Like It, one of the Bard's romantic comedies, is set in 1967. And it's been at least 15 years since the festival presented a "full modern dress production," according to the festival's executive artistic director Sidonie Garrett who recalls it was Measure for Measure in 1998.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Heart Of America Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 21st season in Southmoreland Park with the comedy As You Like It. This year, the production is set in 1967 and the costumes and music hearken back to the Summer of Love.

Act Three, Scene Two, In The Forest of Arden

In this scene, Rosalind, played by Carla Noack, is banished from her uncle's court. She takes refuge in the Forest of Arden disguised as the boy, Ganymede. There she meets Orlando, played by Todd Carlton Lanker.

Brian Collins / fixation media

This year's Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is going back and forth between comedy and tragedy on alternate nights, returning to a two-show season performed in repertory, which it hasn't done in a decade.