- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

Mid-summer it wasn’t, but Saturday evening’s celebration of the Shakespeare Theatre’s 15th annual “Free for All” at Carter Barron Amphitheatre was something of a dream.

And why not, since the company’s production of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” had been a sellout since it opened May 26? Plus, the relatively mild weather had cooperated beautifully. More than 30,000 people have seen the show, which closed yesterday, director Jef Hall-Flavin noted proudly at a pre-performance reception hosted by patron Judith Terra and company Artistic Director Michael Kahn at White Oaks, Mrs. Terra’s mansion on nearby Colorado Avenue NW.

Mr. Hall-Flavin, who had worked with Mark Lamos when the production originated at the Lansburgh theater downtown, was having a difficult few days doubling as the trickster character Puck after cast member Daniel Breaker fell ill. “An out-of-body experience,” he said of the switch.

The ever-affable Mrs. Terra hailed the fact that a half-million people had been to the “Free For All” in its short career before introducing Mr. Kahn to 100 theater supporters as “one of the most exciting and driven people I know … a legend in his own time.” Mr. Kahn played it safe, regaling the company by saying how the chance to play Carter Barron “always reinvigorates us” after a five-production season. “Usually by this time we are exhausted, putting on plays and raising money.” He credited the late Joseph Papp of New York’s Shakespeare in the Park with inventing the idea of free shows.

Guests included newly announced District mayoral candidate and Ward 4 council member Adrian Fenty, who confided that his favorite Shakespeare play was “Henry IV, Part 2,” in part because of “the action.” Among others present were Alexandra de Borchgrave, Esther Coopersmith, andJaylee and Gilbert Mead.

Gregory Stuart, a graduate of the Academy of Classical Acting who is both actor and musician, entertained throughout by playing instruments and songs of the Elizabethan era.

— Ann Geracimos

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