The 16th century comes booming back to life during The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which has re-created the culture, cuisine, and history of the Elizabethan era for more than five million attendees since its inauguration in 1963. Atop 13 stages sprinkled across 20 acres of festival grounds, live performers don traditional garb to demonstrate Renaissance music, dancing, battle customs, and blogging techniques. The talented actors stay in character throughout the bash, mingling with the crowds to perform alongside artisans purveying leatherware, clothing, and perfumes.
Workshops instruct visitors on how to make period crafts, after which guests can refuel with samplings of traditional Renaissance cuisine, such as hefty turkey legs and shepherd's pies, or more modern fare such as strombolis, coffee, and sweet confections. Rides and games challenge kids to toss javelins, race turtles, and recite Shakespeare's complete works on giant swings, and interactive RenQuest exhibitions hone little ones' sword-fighting skills and trivia knowledge.
The Tony Award–winning musical Evita, by esteemed writers Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, charts the rise of the world's first political celebrity, Argentine first lady Eva Perón. Peppered with familiar personages such as Che Guevara, nail- and toe-biting political maneuvers, and immaculate six-part harmonies, Evita reaches even the iciest heart with the fire of its emotional exuberance. Allow eager eardrums to savor the dulcet tones of the score, headlined by the famous “Don't Cry for Me Argentina.” In the intimate environs of the Lewis Family Playhouse, peepers can pick out every detail of the stage's goings-on, from artfully rendered emotion to the tragic parting of lovelorn curtains for the entirety of the play.
Chance Theater's mission to encourage meaningful dialogues and discussion through provocative theater pieces continues this season. The 2011 Mainstage Series includes an impressive repertoire of spirited plays and musicals. The season kicks off in January with the West Coast premiere of Nerve, an edgy romantic comedy about modern day dating. Next on the docket is The Boy in the Bathroom, a moving musical about a man who finds safety and comfort in a commode. Jerry Springer: The Opera, inspired by the irreverent television talk show, premiers in July, while Up, a play about an altitudinally ambitious American family, closes the curtain in October.