By Kathleen McCool

The Bulletin

The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland will begin its 80th year on Feb. 27.

Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Pericles” along with “Guys and Dolls” and the world premiere of “Fingersmith” will kick off the season.

“Each season brings with it the thrill of offering our audiences the work of the world’s foremost playwrights brought to life by our amazing acting company,” said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch.

OSF is a not-for-profit professional theater founded in 1935.

Started by Southern Oregon University professor Angus L. Bowmer, OSF has become one of the oldest and largest professional non-profit theaters in the nation, according to the theater’s website.

What began as a three-day festival of two plays has grown into and eight-month season of 11 plays in three theaters. In the early days of the festival, only works by Shakespeare were performed. Now, the festival includes a mix of classics, musicals and new works, and produces nearly 800 performances each year.

The 2015 season runs from Feb. 27 through Nov. 1. “Much Ado about Nothing,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Pericles” run the entire season. “Fingersmith” runs through July 9. In March, seven additional productions will be incorporated into the festival — “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” the U.S. premiere of “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land,” Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the world premiere of “Head Over Heels,” “The Happiest Song Plays Last” and “Sweat.”

More than plays alone make OSF feel like a festival event, particularly in the summer. Along with the numerous plays attendees can enjoy backstage tours, park talks, lectures, classes, workshops, pre- and post-show conversations and free outdoor “Green Shows” before the evening shows from June through October.

Tickets for individual plays range from $25 to $80.75 with discounts for members and groups. For more information on OSF and ticketing, visit www.osfashland.org.

— Reporter: 541-383-0350, kmccool@bendbulletin.com

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