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Spend a summer night at the Shakespeare Festival
by Cortney Maddock
Jul 09, 2008 | 1425 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo - Michael Garland, a Sparks native, will perform in the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as Starveling and Mustardseed and "CAMBIO" as Vélez.
Courtesy photo - Michael Garland, a Sparks native, will perform in the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as Starveling and Mustardseed and "CAMBIO" as Vélez.
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Courtesy Photo - Alexander Paul Nifong plays Teofilo and Sandy Simona plays Zafira in the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's "CAMBIO."
Courtesy Photo - Alexander Paul Nifong plays Teofilo and Sandy Simona plays Zafira in the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's "CAMBIO."
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The amber-colored sunset makes the turquoise blue water look like diamonds floating in the ripples. Soft sand accents the tall evergreen trees that frame the outdoor amphitheater. Sand Harbor is the perfect place for an evening at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.

Sand Harbor is also the perfect place to work. Sparks native Michael Garland lucked out when he returned to Sparks after traveling with a children's theater to audition for the Shakespeare Festival.

“I had this nagging thought in the back of my head to go back to Reno and try out for the Shakespeare Festival," Garland said. "I said ‘sign me up!’ "

Garland, who attended Mendive Middle School and graduated from Reed High School, aced his auditions for festival director Jan Powell to land the roles of Starveling and Mustardseed in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and Vélez in this summer's original production "CAMBIO."

“They audition more than 2,000, so I am pretty lucky,” Garland said.

Garland said that unlike most actors who over-prepare for their auditions, he went into the audition with a vibrant personality.

"I just overdid my personality," Garland said with a chuckle.

Garland said he was bitten by the acting bug in middle school but knew it would be his profession after seeing a Reed performance of "How To Succeed In Business."

As a student at Reed, Garland performed in multiple plays including "Little Shop Of Horrors," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and a community theater performance of "Damn Yankees!"

Garland's acting experience led him to New York, where he said he auditioned for every possible acting opportunity and attended Marymount Manhattan College where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in theater performance.

New York also opened the doors to the National Theater for Arts and Education. Garland started performing with a traveling children's theater, which included performances in "The Outsiders"

in which Garland played the character of Johnny.

After traveling and yearning for a place to settle, Garland returned to Nevada.

"I decided I would come back home and see where I would go next," Garland said.

Next would be the Shakespeare Festival. Garland plays three lively characters in two plays, which keeps him on his toes.

“In 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' I play a few characters,” Garland said of Starveling and Mustardseed. “I think it’s going to be hilarious.”

Garland explained that the characters he plays in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" are a part of the play within a play, adding to the complexity of the performance.

"In CAMBIO, Velez is basically the emcee of the evening, he kind of introduces people," Garland said of his third role. "He kind of runs the whole event."

CAMBIO is this summer's original musical of the Shakespeare Festival. The musical is set in modern-day Havana and is a twist on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." The modern element is that the musical's name is derived from the bracelets people in Cuba are wearing that say "Cambio," which translates to "change."

"What is interesting about 'CAMBIO' is that it has this element of fantasy," Garland said. “There is going to be a lot of good singing in the show.”

Garland said in addition to being an entertaining performance, "CAMBIO" has an underlying political message that transcends borders.

"Here in Reno, we get to do something so current and so vital, this idea of change,” Garland said. "I think 'CAMBIO' is saying it is time to awaken and help other nations along. Maybe we have been fighting for too long and we need peace for a change.”

In additional to a musical with a political message, the Shakespeare Festival has a play for everyone. Garland said for a classic Shakespeare play "Richard III" is perfect and for a contemporary play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a crowd pleaser.

“There is something here for everybody,” Garland said. “I just hope they have the best time they can have. The caliber of these actors is phenomenal.”

The Shakespeare Festival kicks off today and runs until Aug. 17. Locals nights are tonight and Friday and discount tickets can be reserved by calling (888)-32-shows.

"CAMBIO" shows every Monday with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Richard III" rotating throughout the week. For a complete show calendar, ticket prices and to purchase tickets, visit www.laketahoeshakespeare.com.

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