STRATFORD, CT (WCBS 880) – In its heyday, the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford drew big names such as Christopher Plummer and James Earl Jones.

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But after all the benefactors died off, the money dried up and the theater was shuttered in 1980s.

This weekend, the annual festival gets underway under a huge outdoors tent since the theater itself lacks a certificate of occupancy.

But this year, you can go inside and see what’s what.

“We’re letting people go in the building for a quick look, but everything is being done on the grounds outside,” says Bruce Hirsch, who has worked with the theater for years.

The open house times are Thursdays and Fridays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; Saturdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; and Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

They will perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but Hirsch says the eleven-day festival will present various programs for a wider appeal.

He says the program has to include more than plays and readings of William Shakespeare.

Additional performers, workshops, and activities this year include The Players at Putney Gardens, Dr. Joe Utterback & Sister Cities Choir, Bridgeport Theatre Company, Hudson Shakespeare Company, Temple Players, and a week-long theatre camp.

The festival runs through August 21.

LINK: Festival! Stratford

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