SPOTLIGHT: Shakespeare in Love Gala

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Kentucky Shakespeare is grounded in the works of Shakespeare and strives to enrich our community by presenting accessible, professional theatre experiences that educate, inspire and entertain people of all ages. We chatted with Kentucky Shakespeare’s Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace to get all the details on this year’s Shakespeare in Love Gala! “If music be the food of love, play on!” – Shakespeare

What is the Shakespeare in Love Gala?

Shakespeare in Love is our fourth annual gala supporting our work at Kentucky Shakespeare, the oldest free Shakespeare festival in the United States, the official Shakespeare company of the commonwealth and the largest in-school touring arts provider in Kentucky.  

What can guests expect at the event?

This is such a fun and relaxed annual event the week of Valentine’s Day, so it’s a perfect date night out. The event features sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Proof, an open bar with Brown-Forman cocktails including a delicious signature cocktail to be revealed, live performances and surprises. This year we welcome the Jerry Tolson Trio playing live jazz for the first part and a DJ and dancing later. Our friends at MagBooth will be taking photos of guests in Kentucky Shakespeare’s costumes, Regan Wann will be giving couples tarot readings in a side gallery (always a huge hit) and we’ll be revealing some exciting Kentucky Shakespeare casting news through some live performances! Guests leave with a white rose and sweet treats at the end of the night.  We encourage guests to stay at 21c, the official hotel of Kentucky Shakespeare. I know my wife and I will be!

Tell us about this year’s theme and how it came about.

We’ve always held this event around Valentine’s Day, and this year we thought it may be fun to make it a black and white affair.  Not a formal “black tie” but with guests dressing in the colors black and white. As our event chair, board member Mera Cossey Corlett put it, “What’s black and white and ‘read’ all over?”

Are there any design elements you can reveal about this year’s event?

Having an event in the gallery of the world renowned, award-winning 21c Museum Hotel is always a most stunning part of the design for this event. We’re fortunate to have 21c’s general counsel, the incredible Phillip Allen as our Board Chair. We couldn’t think of a better backdrop for this event than 21c – with romance and surprises around every corner! 

What are your suggestions for how a guest should plan their attire for the evening?

We encourage guests to wear the colors black and white – cocktail attire. And some dancing shoes!

Why is this event important for the theater community and greater Louisville community?

This summer Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, the oldest free Shakespeare festival in the country, will present a record 11-week, eight-production, 66-performance season in Central Park at no cost to the public! 25,000+ audience members will have the opportunity to experience the arts regardless of their ability to buy a ticket. It costs us nearly $300,000 for us to produce this summer season, so opportunities like Shakespeare in Love are vital to us to be able to support this free community tradition.  

Funds raised also help us as we tour the state with our education programs. Last year alone we toured to 200 schools in 70 counties with 700+ hours of programming.   Events like Shakespeare in Love allow us to continue to offer free and discounted outreach work in our community.

How has the event grown over the years?

Each year, we’ve adjusted things to make sure we always have surprises. We continue to get more guests each year too. We’ve seen local personalities including UofL basketball star Lancaster Gordon, radio personality Lachlan McLean and Mayor Greg Fischer. What our guests often comment about at this event is that it’s not just the same regular “donors” over and over at a stuffy gala – this event brings a fun, new, eclectic mix of guests for a really great party at this world-class museum hotel.

How do you hope the event changes in years to come?

I hope we continue to gain share in what we do with more of our community, to continue to raise much needed funds to support our mission and continue to have a lot of fun along the way! This event will continue to evolve and grow with the company.

Where can you purchase tickets? Is it too late?

We still have spaces available. Considering the cost of other galas, you get a lot for your ticket. It’s $100 per person, $175 per couple or $800 for a block of 10. Tickets can be purchased through the mail to Kentucky Shakespeare, 323 W. Broadway, Suite 401, Louisville, KY 40202; over the phone at 502.574.9900;  online at; or at the direct link at:

Shakespeare in Love Gala 2017

Saturday, February 18

21c Museum Hotel

$100 per person, $175 per couple, $800 for a block of 10