Great River Shakespeare Festival announces opening weekend

Photo by Sydney Swanson


From left, Alex Campbell (Viola) and Lloyd Mulvey (Sir Toby) perform in GRSF’s “Twelfth Night,” one of three plays opening this weekend. 

Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) opens its 2022 season this week with three consecutive opening night performances at the Winona State University Performing Arts Center in Winona. The season is sponsored by Winona State University and is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board operating support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. 

Shakespeare’s delightful comedy “Twelfth Night” will begin the festivities with an opening performance on Friday, July 1, at 7 p.m. Under Beth Gardiner’s masterful direction (previously GRSF’s “The Tempest,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Servant of Two Masters”), “Twelfth Night” promises to be a magical and hilarious evening of love and yearning, mistaken identity, sword fighting and drunken revelry. “Twelfth Night” is sponsored by Merchants Bank. 

Opening on Saturday, July 2, at 7 p.m, is Carlyle Brown’s powerful play “The African Company Presents Richard III” directed by returning festival favorite Corey Allen (TV’s “Mindhunter,” “Madam Secretary”). When the first Black theatrical group in the country, the African Company of New York, mount a production of “Richard III,” an uptown theatre impresario, threatened by their success, sets about shutting down the competition. This visually stunning production is not to be missed. “The African Company Presents Richard III” is sponsored by Thern and an anonymous gift in memory of John and Janet. 

To complete the weekend, “Always … Patsy Cline” will open on Sunday, July 3, at 7 p.m., directed by Braxton Rae. Brittany Proia (GRSF’s “The Tempest”) stars as Patsy Cline opposite longtime acting company member, Tarah Flanagan, as Cline super fan, Louise Seger. “Always ... Patsy Cline” tells the true story of Louise’s chance encounter with the country music legend that launched a friendship filled with shared experiences as working mothers in the early 1960s. The musical play, complete with down-home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Walking After Midnight.” “Always ... Patsy Cline” is sponsored by Char and Bill Carlson and Kathy and Dave Christenson. 

Performances run on a rotating schedule through July 31. See all three and save with a three-play season pass. The festival also offers events, talk-backs, ice-cream socials and more. Full details and tickets are available online at or by calling 507-474-7900.