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Situated in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in the historic college town of Staunton, Va., the 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse tries to create conditions as close as it can to the Elizabethan theatergoing experience. Lights aren’t dimmed during performances, men sometimes play women’s roles (as boys would have done in Shakespeare’s day), music is emphasized, and, above all, there’s an open apron stage that replicates the bare-boards indoor stage of Tudor times. The one welcome change: cushions on the traditionally hard audience benches.

The center’s June 19-Sept 20 summer repertoire consists of “The Merchant of Venice”; “The Lion in Winter,” playwright James Goldman’s comedy-drama; and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

Seating categories are benches, “gallants’ stools” and “lords’ chairs” (with real leather upholstery!), or sit in Juliet’s balcony. Tickets range from $16 to $35, with some performances on a “pay-what-you-will” basis.

For tickets and more information, visit or call 540/851-1733 or 540/885-5588.


If you think of Wintergreen, Va., in the Blue Ridge Mountains as only a ski resort, you haven’t seen the 42-page online brochure of events at its annual music festival, set for July 6 through Aug. 5. The comprehensive program includes chamber music by young musicians in a dozen venues, including on the now-grass-covered ski slopes; jazz; master classes in playing the violin, cello and viola; performances by the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra; sessions with composers-in-residence; and art exhibitions, to say nothing of the cooking classes and wine tasting.

The programs are hugely varied, but some serious music gets played - and in some unusual locations. American cellist Wesley Baldwin, for example, will perform J.S. Bach’s six solo cello suites in a large barn. The orchestral concerts are led by a succession of conductors, including Mei-Ann Chan, director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets range from $10 for a wine tasting to $420 for a festival season pass, and everything in between.

For tickets and more information, visit or call 434/325-8292.


Lovers of new theater by American playwrights have been making the trek to this festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., for more than 20 years.

This year’s festival, which in recent seasons has included plays by David Mamet and Sam Shepard, runs July 6 through 29 and offers five works, including two world premiers: “Barcelona,” by Bess Wohl, about an American woman’s one-night stand with a stranger that turns sinister, and “Gidion’s Knot,” by Johnna Adams, about an emotionally disturbing parent-teacher conference. Also in the program is “Captors,” Evan M. Wiener’s portrayal of a Mossad agent’s interrogation of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

Tickets range from $30 to $55; some performances are sold out already.

For more information or tickets, visit or call 304/876-3473.