HUGE crowds are due to descend on Grosvenor Park today for the first performance in this year's popular open air theatre.
Two productions will be staged at the Chester beauty spot by a cast of 15 actors who have been recruited from across the UK.
The season will feature 49 performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, sponsored by Stanlow-based Essar Oil, and Glyn Maxwell’s new sequel Masters Are You Mad? will be performed until Sunday, August 19.
Last week organisers announced advance ticket sales had already exceeded 3,500, putting the third annual event on track for another bumper year.
Opening the season is Twelfth Night, which tells the story of Viola, a young woman shipwrecked in the country of Illyria who decides to dress as a man to make her make her way.
She comes to serve Count Orsino in his courtship of Lady Olivia, who instead falls for Viola. Along the way, the audience also meets Sir Toby Belch and other ‘tumultuous’ characters.
The new cast is to feature some of the country’s finest acting talent, who will perform in both plays set in the imaginary world of Illyria, reimagined in Grosvenor Park as an Edwardian Garden.
In the past two years, productions of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, alongside two new plays, Hercules and Merlin and the Woods of Time have been performed in the picnic theatre to crowds exceeding 15,000. The outdoor productions, performed in a horseshoe-shaped space nestled among conifers and sycamores, are designed to appeal to all ages, first-time viewers as well as Shakespeare enthusiasts.
Andrew Bentley of organisers Chester Performs said: “We are excited about getting the season started. The addition of a new ‘gladiatorial’ canopy reflects the needs of our growing audience. It will provide shelter and shade as well as offering stunning views of the whole auditorium.”
Tickets are available from £12.50. To book go to www.grosvenorparkopenairthearte.co.uk, call 0845 241 7868 or visit Chester Visitor Centre, Northgate Street.