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WEST HARTFORD, Conn.—Every July audiences descend upon the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) campus, setting up chairs and spreading out blankets and elaborate picnics on the lawn between Lynch Hall and Bruyette Athenaeum in anticipation of lively outdoor performances of Shakespeare under the stars, presented by the Capital Classics Theatre Company.

This summer, to mark the 20th anniversary of this partnership between USJ and Capital Classics, the Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival will feature two full-length Shakespeare productions— Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew. From July 10 through Aug. 4, ten rotating performances of each production will run Wednesday through Sunday.

“Shakespeare under the stars on the campus of the University of Saint Joseph has been an annual tradition for friends and families of all ages in Greater Hartford for 20 years,” said Herb Emanuelson, president and marketing director of Capital Classics. “Our loyal attendees love the beautiful campus; the convenient location; the free, safe, and well-lit parking; clean restrooms; access to the air-conditioned theater if it rains; and adjacent art museum,” he said. “Our staff and cast love the supporting staff at the theater and all USJ. It is a space to call their own during the rehearsal process and run of the production.”

“Both the theatre company and the University bring excellence and quality to the partnership,” said Laura Sheehan, co-founder of Capital Classics. “USJ has always been supportive and provided anything we needed to make the festival work. We are like-minded organizations—there’s a respect for each other and the rest of humanity. And we do work that is thoughtful and of quality.”

This season additional entertainment will be provided before each Shakespeare production including performances by USJ’s Dance Team, a barbershop quartet, and the Elizabethan Consort, a group that combines song with playful antics. With the larger audiences expected this summer, the festival will use amplification for the first time to reach every audience member.

“The University of Saint Joseph and the Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival are the perfect pairing,” Herb Emanuelson said. “Our Shakespeare performances on the campus of the University of Saint Joseph are magical. The sun sets. The moon and stars come out. Our colorful lights shine up into the trees behind our set. The crickets chirp. The audience — of all ages — laughs, cries, and cheers, as plays that are 400 years old come to life. It is the perfect setting to make memories.”

To reserve tickets for this season’s Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival at the University of Saint Joseph, please go to: Buy tickets – Capital Classics Theatre Company (