Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Shakespeare Play Debuts in OKC Tonight

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Shakespeare Play Debuts in OKC Tonight

Article excerpt

Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park has always stayed true to its goal of presenting plays in the park; it just hasn't always been the same park.

The theater group will present its first performance in downtown Oklahoma City this evening at the Myriad Botanical Gardens on the newly revamped Water Stage.

The group announced in December that it was moving to Oklahoma City after fire gutted its stage on two separate occasions at Hafer Park in Edmond. After the most recent fire, the group spent two seasons in a temporary spot on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

David Holt, president of the group's board of directors, said work on the new downtown stage has been going along on schedule thanks to funding obligations that were met by the Myriad Gardens Foundation, which raised the initial $450,000 for the first phase of improvements on the water stage.

The foundation reports it has raised about $840,000 to date and estimates it will need to raise a total of about $1.9 million for all of the renovations, including canopies that will eventually be erected over the stage.

"Some of the stuff won't happen until after this year in anticipation of the following year," Holt said.

The largest donor to date is Devon Energy, which contributed $250,000 to the foundation and another $21,000 to Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park to cover costs of a centennial performance of The Grapes of Wrath this fall.

Another large donor was the Inasmuch Foundation, which contributed $300,000 toward the renovations.

Michael Laird, president of the Myriad Gardens Foundation, said that about three years ago the foundation targeted the water stage as the capital project that needed the most attention for future enhancement of the gardens. The next step was the fundraising effort and convincing potential donors that the project had merit.

"What we had to do first was focus on what we thought we could do to enhance this and improve things that have needed improvement for a long time," Laird said. …

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