Oh Ashland, where for art thou?

Fittingly close to Valentine’s Day, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) opens this month with plays about star-crossed lovers, unrequited passion and magical romance.

Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” takes the stage on Feb. 17. Director Laird Williamson offers the familiar and timeless tale of two young lovers and their feuding families in a new setting — California in the 1840s. Bringing this tumultuous period in American to the foreground adds a modern twist to a beloved story.

Feb. 18 will see the world premier of “The White Snake,” a play by Tony-award winning director Mary Zimmerman. Based on a classic Chinese fable, this is the story of a snake spirit disguised as a beautiful woman who falls in love with a young scholar. She must use magical powers to defeat dark forces and win her lover.

Libby Appel’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s, “Seagull,” opens Feb 23. Set in 19th-century Russia at a lakeside estate, “Seagull” tells the tale of four passionate artists each in love with someone who does not return the affection. “Seagull” is a story about theater, art and unfulfilled desire.

Making room on the dramatic stage for comedy, OSF opens “Animal Crackers” on Feb. 19. Originally created for the Marx Brothers, this slapstick musical recounts the adventures of Captain Spaulding, African adventurer and wise-cracker, at a posh Long Island party. High jinks meet high society and mayhem ensues.

These four rich plays are just the beginning of a packed season for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which runs through early November.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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