Your Regional Guide To The Performing Arts

Summer is Here, Theatres Take to the Outdoor Stage

Summer is Here, Theatres Take to the Outdoor Stage
Photo Credit: Optimist Theatre

It’s no question that one of the best parts about summer is the chance to get outside. From lazy beach days, to fairs and festivals, to a stroll through the park, there seems to always be something to do outdoors in the summer – and many performing arts companies are along for the ride. These area organizations have some exciting productions hitting the outdoor stage.


Optimist Theatre

Optimist Theatre, through its presentation of free Shakespeare in the Park, offers both artists and audience live engagement with the language, emotions and timeless stories of the most-produced playwright of all time. What better catalyst to fire the imagination and stimulate people to interact with each other and the artistic world that is theater?


Coming up: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. One of the Bard's most beloved comedies. Witness the brilliant battle of the sexes with immortal characters Beatrice and Benedick. Heroes (literally) and villains take you to heights of hilarity, heartbreak and romance. This is Optimist’s first show in their new home at the Peck Pavilion of the Marcus Center.

July 6 – July 22 |


Summerstage of Delafield

SummerStage is Waukesha County’s only outdoor performing arts theater. Their idyllic stage is located in the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Summerstage’s mission is to provide unique ways to present performing and visual arts experiences, educational arts experiences, and community outreach programs.


Coming up: Present Laughter by Noël Coward. Present Laughter follows several days in the life of successful and self-obsessed actor Garry Essendine as he prepares for an extended overseas trip in the midst of his worsening mid-life crisis.

July 20 - August 5 |


American Players Theatre

APT is a professional theater located just outside Spring Green, Wisconsin. Situated on 110 acres of hilly woods and meadows, APT has two theaters, the newly renovated 1088-seat outdoor amphitheater and the 201-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre. APT ranks as the country’s second largest outdoor theater devoted to the classics.


Coming Up: Nine plays in rotating repertory, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, and A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Shows are performed all summer long!

Summer 2017 |


Illinois Shakespeare Festival

The mission of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival is to produce energetic new interpretations of theatrical works, engaging audience and artist in an impassioned exploration of the human condition, with the artistry and humanity of the Shakespearean canon as our constant touchstone.


Coming Up: Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline adapted by Chris Coleman. A brilliant princess, an evil queen, a misguided king and a thoroughly rotten clown are just some of the characters in this fairy tale romance.

July 1 – August 12 |


Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Chicago Shakespeare provides their free for all Shakespeare in the Park program every summer. In its sixth year, they travel to neighborhood parks across the north, west and south sides of the city where a company of professional actors shares Shakespeare’s jubilant, music-infused romantic comedy with families and neighbors of all ages.


Coming Up: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. This tale of true love found—and tragically lost—comes alive in this 75-minute abridged production touring to 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago this summer.

Summer 2017 |


Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is a vibrant and thriving professional orchestra dedicated to advancing Wisconsin communities through the transformative power of music.


Coming Up: WCO’s Concerts on the Square series provides a number of outdoor concerts during the summer in Madison. Concerts include Red, White & Boom, American Potpourri, Orchestral Fantasy, Summer Thriller, and Beethoven’s Fifth.

July 5 – August 2 |

San Camillo
Ascension Living
Hotel Red