When William Shakespeare penned this line for "Twelfth Night," he must have been peeking into the future, when Lane Davies would produce his plays on the grounds of Webb School. The end of the quote is "For the rain it raineth every day," which has been the case as the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival gears up for opening night on Friday.
"If the weather holds, it will be okay," said Davies, an actor himself who spends time split between Los Angeles and his home in Georgia. For the last three years, he's been spending a couple of months out of his busy life in Bell Buckle, establishing the festival.
Davies takes Shakespeare in new directions, making the Bard's work more relevant to today's audience. From an Athens, Tenn., turn of the century-based "A Midsummer Night's Dream," to a Romeo and Juliet set in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, he transports Shakespeare to different times -- but keeps the story and the message the same.
This year, the play is "The Comedy of Errors," and he wanders even farther from the traditional production of the slapstick comedy of mistaken identities.
"There's a lot more music than we originally planned," said Davies. "In fact, it's pretty much a folk musical -- with a Shakespeare libretto."
Even the rain hasn't been that much of a problem. The premium seating is all under a massive tent with sides that can be closed as needed.
"The water was running off of the sides of the tent, then rolling back into the tent," said Davies.
That problem has largely been corrected, due to the new French drain that diverts the flow well away from the seating area. "Many thanks to the maintenance crew at Webb," he said.
Davies' production of "The Comedy of Errors" is set in the Kentucky town that hosted the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud, and because the play is about feuding towns -- and reconciliation -- a traveling troupe of Tennessee players decides to put it on to help heal the residents there.
There are two sets of identical twins, which quadruples the opportunities for mistaken identity and comic mayhem. In the opening of the show, there will be a puppet show with its own musical number, a shipwreck and a separated family, all just to explain the back story of the play.
Davies, a native of Dalton, Ga., is about as close to a hometown hero as you can get, since he studied theater at MTSU. There, he made several friends and has kept them involved, from providing rehearsal and set-building space to coaching interns, to filming productions.
Davies went on to television success after college,
As he travels from coast to coast, Davies has always kept up with his old friends and former cast mates, both from his experiences in live theater and on film. Many remember him as the original "Mason Capwell" on the soap "Santa Barbara," although his first soap appearance was a less-lived Dr. Evan Whyland on "Days of Our Lives." Other soap appearances include "The Bold and the Beautiful," and "General Hospital."
He's done guest spots on "Third Rock from the Sun," on "Scrubs" as Eliot's stuffy doctor father, and on "Lois & Clark" as the deliciously evil Tempus. As he did in college, he made lifelong friends there, and they, too, have contributed to his dream of bringing Shakespeare to Tennessee.
"We got a nice donation from Robert David Hall," said Davies. Hall plays Dr. Al Robbins, the coroner on CSI.
"He was in my very first 'Christmas Carol' in 1988 and he was in my first 'Macbeth,'" he said. "He's an old friend and he's helping us."
Show dates begin tomorrow and run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until July 10, with times at 8 p.m. for the Friday and Saturday shows and 7 p.m. for the Sunday shows.
Ticket prices remain unchanged this year, with festival seating tickets $5 for adults. Premium seating (under the tent, chairs provided) will be $10 a ticket if bought online in advance, and $15 at the door, with children under 12 admitted free. Everyone is encouraged to bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets, picnics, drinks and bug spray.
For more information, or to order tickets online, visit tennesseeshakespeare festival.com/.