A celebration of William Shakespeare and Norfolk’s unique connection to the water will take place this weekend when Festevents presents the Midsummer Fantasy Festival at Town Point Park.
The three-night event, “Sailors, Sonnets and Sprites,” features more than 40 performers who will string together some of the Bard’s most beloved sonnets, plus a section of arguably his most famous play, some vaudeville, Afro-Caribbean dance, large-scale puppets and a Beyoncé number.
Patrick Mullins, Virginia Stage Company’s interim artistic director, is the producer of the festival, which is now in its fourth year. He said the multicultural production begins with dancers and some audience members giving flowers to the Elizabeth River as a gift to the Orishas, deities of the Yoruba religion. From there, the show moves through the sonnets, interspersed with contemporary songs and vaudevillian pieces.
In the past three years, the Midsummer Fantasy Festival was spread throughout the park to provide more of an experimental, audience-interaction setting. The new show is focused on the main stage.
“The trickiest part in the past was that people didn’t quite know what they were coming to,” he said with a laugh. “So they want to know, ‘Where do I put down my blanket and where do I set up my stuff?’ By focusing on the central stage, it helps the audiences be a little more comfortable and gives us a little more focus.”
The show was designed to enchant, Mullins said.
“It’s a little bit trippy, but it’s also smart. It covers a broad cross section of things. And there is something about sitting out and watching a performance at the golden hour, facing the river, where you can see the boats go by in the background and you can hear great music and poetry and see the great visuals. It just makes for a beautiful night that you don’t get to experience in any other way around here. This is something really connected to the area, and it’s really fun and unique.”
WANT TO GO?
What: A Midsummer Fantasy Festival Presents “Sailors, Sonnets and Sprites”
Where: Town Point Park, 333 Waterside Drive, Norfolk
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 7 p.m., park opens; 7:30 p.m. pre-show concert; 8:30 p.m., performances begin; 10 p.m., park closes
Cost: Free, 757-441-2345, www.festevents.org