Hot Summer Nights kicks off with Shakespeare

For the seventh season, the Blount County Public Library will offer the Hot Summer Nights series of programs and concerts at the library.

To kick off this summer’s events, the Tennessee Stage Company will be back to present one performance of William Shakespeare’s timeless play “The Merchant of Venice” on Monday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m. The play will be outside on the front lawn of the library, so audience members should bring lawn chairs. As the audience gathers, a brass or jazz band will perform. Water will be available for sale at the performance, with proceeds benefitting the library.

Directed by Michael Golebiewshi, The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. A dark comedy, the plot explores greed, racism and abuse of power. When Antonio, a merchant of Venice, needs immediate money to help his friend woo a beautiful, rich young lady, he goes to Shylock, a Jewish money lender who offers to lend the money only if the collateral is a pound of Antonio’s flesh! In one of drama’s most tension-filled courtroom scenes, Shylock demands his pound of flesh after the note comes due.

Performers of the Tennessee Stage Company, under the leadership of Tom Parkhill, are all professional actors. This summer’s presentation at the library is the third for the group, sponsored by the Friends of the Blount County Public Library.

The Hot Summer Nights concert series will bring musical performers on Thursdays in August at 7:00 p.m. Concerts will be indoors in the library’s Reading Rotunda. Most artists will have CDs available for sale on the evening of their concert.

The concert series will include four performances:

• August 7: Laurel Wright, 12-year-old vocalist and guitarist, rendering country music.

• August 14: The Pair Family presenting vocal harmony from a variety of musical genres and traditions and each playing a variety of acoustic instruments.

• August 21: Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, a local husband-wife team, who perform professionally all over the United States, including at Carnegie Hall, playing folk songs and presenting story telling, especially of the African-American heritage.

• August 28: Christabel and the Jons, presents “Tennessee swing” music mixing southern swing, folk and roots music featuring Christa DeCicco with vocals, guitars, accordion and banjo; Seth Hopper on violin, mandolin, trumpet, accordion, and vocals; Jon Whitlock on drum kit, percussion and vocals; and various musicians on upright bass.

Hot Summer Nights concerts are sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Free and open to the public, these programs will be at the Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville.

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