August 2021
Merry Wives ReBoots
Highlands Center to Host Shakespeare Adaptation Two Years in the Making

Over the past year and a half local live entertainment has been nearly completely suspended, many may have felt as though they had no opportunity to fully experience what the area has to offer in terms of the arts. We’re fortunate that groups like Laark Productions are here to stay.

Jessica Montgomery, JP Perpich and Melanie Snyder in Merry Wives

For eight years Lane and Karla Burkitt and their company have partnered with nonprofits to enhance education and other services in the area.

The artistic director is Karla Burkitt, who has an extensive background in theatre and education. She welcomes new faces for each production while actively working toward a memorable show, even acting herself. The ever-evolving cast is comprised of talents from Prescott and the surrounding area. Laark frequently works with experienced, recommended actors, pulling from Northern Arizona to as far as Munds Park, while staying open to contacts from unknowns.

“We change the cast every time, but we aren’t a traditional community theatre in that we don’t hold auditions. If people contact us, we’re open to interviewing and working with basically anybody.”

While the cast changes, so do locations; Laark Productions has performed on the Yavapai College Verde Valley campus and at the Arcosanti Urban Laboratory near Cordes Junction.

The annual rotation includes shows at the Highlands Center for Natural History in Prescott for its Shakespeare in the Pines event. Last year Shakespeare in the Pines was canceled due to the pandemic. For this reason the upcoming shows have been a long time in the making.

“We’re calling this one the Reboot. This particular production, The Merry Wives of Winslow (Laark’s adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor), has essentially been in production for two years,” says Karla.

Cast members Nathaniel Montgomery and JP Perpich

This is a repertory production with evolving revisions and additions, making for a night of fulfilling and enriching entertainment.

Shakespeare in the Pines exemplifies the kind of work the troupe focuses on. Shows at the Highlands Center raise funds for its youth program. The center runs summer camps and educational sessions related to the environment and nature. Arcosanti shares a similar vision: conservation and creating sustainable architecture to better live within the means of the environment.

The Verde Valley shows are entirely free, bringing Shakespeare to Clarkdale. The group is an independent nonprofit, with regular rehearsal space. Each show is dynamic and mobile.

The Highlands Center will host The Merry Wives of Winslow on August 12, 14, 20, and 21, 6:30-9:30pm. Laark Productions shows are family-friendly and open to nearly all ages. Shakespeare in the Pines will offer boxed meals from local restaurant El Gato Azul for a small fee. Alcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase.

For more on the objectives of the educational programs Shakespeare in the Pines will aid, visit Information about the production, expertise, and concept of Laark Productions is available at These sites also host ticket sales for the show.

Laura Cummings is a young adult raised in Prescott who continues to live locally. Courtesy photos.

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