Murphys Creek moving to new summer site

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

Shakespeare is moving up in the world, at least for the summer.

Murphys Creek Theatre will state its outdoor "Theatre Under the Stars" series in a new location this year.

Its summer production, the William Shakespeare comedy "Twelfth Night," will run June 13 through July 19 at Brice Station Vineyards at 3353 E. Highway 4 in Murphys, near Forest Meadows.

The summer shows had been held at the former Stevenot Winery on San Domingo Road outside Murphys since 1996, with a permament stage, dubbed the Cornelia B. Stevenot Memorial Amphitheater, constructed in 2000.

The site later became the Albeno Munari Winery and now again has new owners, who apparently have decided to concentrate on growing grapes without serving wine to the public, said Graham Scott Green, artistic director for Murphys Creek Theatre.

"That was definitely part of the deciding factor," Green said.

The troupe was considering touring the show among assorted wineries but found Brice Station a perfect location, he said.

Owners Stuart and Dolores Mast agreed and the dates were set. So far the arrangement is only for this summer.

Brice Station already has a stage and natural amphitheater for its summer concert series, which opens June 14. To accommodate the concerts, "Twelfth Night" will be presented twice each weekend - every Sunday and alternating Fridays and Saturdays - when there is no music. (See www.murphyscreektheatre.org for details.)

The house will open 90 minutes before each show for patrons to lay out their blankets and chairs. Brice Station will sell wine during each performance and catered meals will be available.

"Twelfth Night" director Tara Kayton noted that in addition to spectacular hillside views, the new location offers guests a chance to tour the working art studios, blacksmith shop and organic farming operation.

Kayton has set the play in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s and will incorporate some of the antique vehicles and equipment on the property into the action.

Green said the new location should be easier to reach.

"It's right off Highway 4, four miles east of Murphys," he said, noting that the Stevenot site was four miles down a narrow, winding road.

Kayton - who also has been named executive director of the 2104 Bear Valley Music Festival - said the acting company is taking the move in stride.

"As theater artists we're used to rolling with the changes pretty quickly," she said.

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The Union Democrat
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