On this day in Alabama history: Alabama Shakespeare Festival opens new theater in Montgomery

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama Shakespeare Festival opens new theater in Montgomery
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival presents Romeo and Juliet. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of the Alabama Tourism Department)

Dec. 7, 1985

On this night in 1985, stars didn’t just fall on Alabama – they arrived for a specific occasion. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s new 100,000 square foot facility opened in grand fashion, with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while the smaller Octagon debuted with Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie.

The opening event was emcee’d by Oscar-winner Olivia de Havilland and Emmy-winner Tony Randall.

Founded in Anniston in 1972, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival is now one of the ten largest Shakespeare festivals in the world, staging more than 400 performances every season. After hitting hard financial times, it relocated to Montgomery in 1985 to take advantage of a 250-acre, $21.5 million gift from Winton and Carolyn Blount. It now draws more than 300,000 visitors every year.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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