Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Ellicott City
The Tempest 2017: Our Best-selling Summer Show Ever

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s outdoor season in Howard County broke the company’s all-time record for summer attendance, Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar announced today.

“We have the best audiences. They’ve been sticking with us through heat and rain (and tempests) for 15 years,” Gallanar said. “They are the most loyal of audiences.”

Earlier this summer, the company welcomed its 50,000th outdoor theatre patron. This milestone and the new attendance record came during Chesapeake Shakespeare’s 15th season in Ellicott City at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park. Since its first production in the park in 2003 — Romeo and Juliet – the company has built a new stage and set each summer to perform Shakespeare’s works and other classic plays for Howard County audiences and tourists.

On Sunday, July 23, the 2017 summer season play, The Tempest, splashed to a close, forced by a downpour into a 1-hour and 15-minute, textually appropriate rain delay followed by intermittent showers. Despite the elements, about 195 hardy patrons persevered to the end to cheer Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, Caliban, and the castaways on Shakespeare’s magical isle. To quote The Tempest, “O wonder, how many goodly creatures are there here!”

“Amazing show last night – loved it outside and didn’t mind the rain at all!  Great setting, can’t wait for A Midsummer Night’s Dream outdoors next year – that’s going to be awesome!” said Tempest patron Jaime Webster.

During the storm delay, many audience members visited Ellicott City’s Historic Main Street. Others enjoyed a Taste of EC display that relocated with them from the park to the Howard County Courthouse parking lot to wait out the storm. While waiting for the signal to return to their seats, audience members snacked on donated treats sourced from local artisanal food merchants, including Little Market Café lemonade and cookies, ECPops caramel popcorn, Neat Nick Preserves, and Picnic Pops real-fruit popsicles.

“After 15 summers of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company-in-the-Ruins, our audiences know that we will do everything possible to put on a play after a downpour—bail out the flooded backstage with buckets, use a leaf blower to dry the stage, and employ every towel on site to dry the audience chairs, said Managing Director Lesley Malin. “In turn, our patrons stick around for the show, and have amazing good humor about damp feet and damp seats.  Honestly, our rainy performances are some of our most powerful shows because everyone—actors, staff, and audience—have worked so hard to make the theatrical magic happen.”

In addition to our loyal audiences, it takes dedicated leadership and design teams, stage managers and house managers, box office staff, technical crews, and cast members to play through summer’s most extreme weather. Special thanks go to Chesapeake Shakespeare and Americorps volunteers and the theatre company’s High School Corps members, who helped with audience services. Additional thanks go to the Howard County Recreation and Parks workers in the park with us.

Our 2017 season was possible thanks to support from Howard County Arts Council and Howard County Government; the Maryland State Arts Council; Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Creative Baltimore Fund; and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. Our Free Shakespeare for Kids underwriters and supporters included the Community Foundation of Howard County, BGE, M&T Bank, Baltimore’s Child magazine, and Baltimore Sun Media Group. Our season supporters included Gentleman Jack, The Arts Insurance Program, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund – creator of the Baker Artist Awards; our business partners included the Wine Bin, Enoch Pratt Free Public Library, The Ivy Bookshop, and Hogarth Books; and Maryland Public Television.

Next summer’s play in the Howard County park will be Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opening June 22, 2018. Individual tickets for all Season 2017-2018 plays will go on sale next week, on August 1, 2017. Midsummer is also included in subscription packages with shows coming up in Chesapeake Shakespeare’s downtown Baltimore theater. For tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 410.244.8570.