The Curry Coastal Pilot

ASHLAND andndash;andensp;Oregon Shakespeare Festival proved last season that "the show must go on." The organization found a crack in one of the Angus Bowmer Theatre's main supporting beams, closing the building for an unprecedented 62 performances.

With the festival's biggest crisis to date behind it, the OSF is officially kicking off the 2012 season this weekend. "Romeo and Juliet," "Animal Crackers" and "The White Snake" are now open at the Angus Bowmer Theatre and "Seagull" is open at the New Theatre.

"This season celebrates the adventurous spirit of our company and our audience, and I can't wait to share these productions," said artistic director Bill Rauch in a news release. "They are a delicious blend of old and new, tragedy and comedy, and the vastly divergent settings will transport audiences around the globe."

The season is also dedicated to executive director Paul Nicholson, who is retiring after 33 years with the festival. He was appointed to the position in November 1995.

Directed by Laird Williamson, William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is set in late-1840s Alta, Calif. It was last produced in Ashland in 2007.

"Animal Crackers" was introduced on stage by the Marx Brothers in 1928. The vaudevillian musical farce is adapted by Henry Wishcamper and directed by Allison Narver. These plays run through Nov. 4.

Artistic director emerita Libby Appel directs her adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic "Seagull." Set in 19th century Russia, "Seagull" runs at the Angus Bower Theatre through June 22.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's opening weekend also features the world premiere of "The White Snake." According to a news release, the play is "inspired by an ancient Chinese fable in which a young scholar falls in love with a beautiful woman, unaware that she is a white snake who has taken on human form." Directed by Mary Zimmerman, the play runs through July 8.

Ticket prices range from $21 to $100.50 for adults and $21 to $70.35 for children (ages 6-17), depending on seat location and day of performance. To purchase tickets or obtain more information, visit or call 800-219-8161.