The Two Gentlewomen of
The Rover
Henry VIII
50 Minute Hamlet
The Merchant of Venice
The Winter’s Tale
The Rivals
The Taming of the Shrew
Richard III
Twelfth Night
Romeo & Juliet
The Comedy of Errors
Much Ado About Nothing
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
King Lear
As You Like It
Henry V
Love’s Labours Lost
All’s Well that Ends Well
The Taming of the Shrew
Henry IV
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Julius Caesar
Twelfth Night
Romeo & Juliet
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
A Midsummer Night’s Dream




Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre was founded to bring together the thriving forces of the people of Benzie County and the Chicago Theatre community, and to establish a mutually beneficial relationship in art, theatre and education.  In our 13 seasons of bringing free, professional productions to Benzie County, we have performed for over 10,000 audience members and reached over 1000 students through our education workshops.  We were founded as an Equity company (Actors’ Equity Association is the professional union of actors and stage managers) and LST actors have graced stages from Broadway to acclaimed regional theatres to all the major houses across the vibrant Chicago theatre scene.

In 2003, Elizabeth Laidlaw created an organization to bring free, outdoor performances of Shakespeare to the Benzie community. The inaugural production was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Founding Member Jeff Christian, performed three times over a single weekend.

Due to tremendous audience reception, LST expanded the next season to include two productions, performed in repertory, over a two-week period: Romeo and Juliet and Two Gentleman of Verona.

Our Education program was established by Christy Arington in our third season — offering three children’s theatre workshops, free for the local community.  This program continues to thrive, with over 100 children engaging in LST actor-led workshops each summer.

In 2006 we formalized our Intern program, with local young adults giving the company a much-needed helping hand with the nightly production duties and being given the opportunity to perform their own Shakespeare Showcase on the LST stage under the direction of LST company members.  During a partnership workshop with the Frankfort-Elberta Park District, LST was able to work with 15 young children who made a surprise appearance in our production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, much to the delight of their parents and audiences.

In 2008 (season six) LST began a new outreach venture: the Company held an afternoon performance of selected scenes from the 2008 season at Michigan Shores, a retirement community in downtown Frankfort.

In Season Seven, LST began to expand its production values and our education opportunities. Henry V boasted a complex soundtrack and intricate fight choreography, making for an exciting show; while the glamorous costumes of Love’s Labours Lost helped transport the audience to a world reminiscent of the French New Wave.  LST also provided a three-day workshop for students ages 5 through 13 that culminated in a performance of a play the students wrote.

In 2010 Lakeside Shakespeare moved to Tank Hill in Frankfort — a beautiful, natural space where we have been performing ever since.  LST owes much gratitude to the Frankfort Tree Board for maintaining the area and keeping the space healthy and safe as well as the City of Frankfort for continuing to make the space better for the LST company and audiences.

During our twelfth season the Apprentice program was created, offering acting and stage management opportunities for Chicago area college students. The students gain experience working with professionals and are rewarded by performing outdoors for a devoted, appreciative audience base.

In 2018 Christy Arington, who has been with the company since our second season, took on the role of Artistic Director — looking to build on the dream conceived by Laidlaw and embraced by the community.

LST continues to expand our reach across Northern Michigan, with regular patrons commuting from Manistee, Charlevoix, Traverse City and beyond to see our productions.

Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre has dedicated itself to creating a program of education and performances of Shakespeare to enrich the Benzie County community, and to become a viable and exciting source of employment and creative fulfillment for Chicago-based theatre artists. Additionally, LST seeks to further develop the “cross-pollination” and artistic exchange between these two communities, and continue to develop its audience base. In the years to come, LST aspires to achieve regional recognition as a professional summer repertory theatre and education center.