Cal Shakes - The California Shakespeare Theatre

There are two things that reliably let me know it's summer, the rain stops and Cal Shakes begins their season. While the rain went a little late this year, Cal Shakes started right on time with Titus Andronicus. In fact my summer is well underway because they're now on their second show of the season, "The Verona Project" which we enjoyed last night.

This is the most glorious open air venue up in the hills between Orinda and Berkeley. We pack a picnic, invite family or friends and make an event of it. For me this is such a great California experience and a classic Bay Area evening out. In England it's a dicey prospect to plan anything that depends on the weather. That quintessential British summer institution, a picnic and the opera at Glynbourne, may be sublime but it doesn't sound like much fun in the rain.
 Sitting under the eucalyptus trees after our picnic

You can also  buy food at the cafe

 The remodeled entrance

The whole place has been remodeled over the last year and it looks fabulous with native plantings and eco-friendly features. The view of the hills remains the same but the whole place has a more modern polished vibe.
Native plants including a wonderful "living" roof
The show was fun, a modern retelling of Two Gentlemen of Verona with music, I know it sounds ghastly but somehow it worked, though we all felt they needed to trim the second act. This is Shakespeare in the same way that the movie "Shakespeare in Love" was Shakespeare it's evocative of the bard without being Shakespearean. It was a musical story rather than a musical, more rock opera than broadway. Band plus story, plus acting equaled something refreshing, entertaining and acessible. The staging was well done, which is often true of this venue, and as always we enjoyed the food and the company.
Bruns amphitheater with the golden hills in the background
Tip:You can often find half price tickets on Goldstar which is well worth checking out.
There is a free shuttle from the Orinda Bart.