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Oh, yes, I 'Like It': Shakespeare in the park!

muchadopress2-sThreatening to transform an already good mood into outright euphoria: Today marks the start of the summer outdoor Shakespeare season! Come 6:00 tonight, the kids and I will be found lounging in a local park, nibbling dinner and awaiting some of the best free family entertainment around.

Our area's two excellent outdoor Shakespeare companies are staging some of The Bard's most kid-friendly works this year: A pair of comedies (featuring mistaken identities, comedic love triangles and pratfalls), one of the most iconic love stories of all time, and - my personal fave - one of Shakespeare's darkest and bloodiest tragedies.

Kids about ages 6 and older will love "As You Like It," staged in parks all over Seattle by GreenStage, and "Much Ado About Nothing," showing in Seattle and on the Eastside by Wooden O. Tweens and teens will thrill to the lovely emo epic "Romeo and Juliet" (GreenStage). And if you - like me - have a teen who loves walking on the dark side, do not miss Wooden O's "Othello" - chock-full of revenge, murder and madness.

It's easier than you think to get your kids into Shakespeare; read my tips for easing them into it, pack up a picnic and pull up a patch of grass in the back (so restless kids can be escorted to the play structure when they've had enough).

There's never been a better time to support Wooden O and GreenStage; this year's line-up is nothing short of brilliant. Take the kids to bask in the birth of English as we know it - then throw a little something in the hat.

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