The 17th annual Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival at California Lutheran University will open with The Tempest.

Directed by J. Michael Arndt, performances will begin at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting June 28 through July 14 in scenic Kingsmen Park. The festival grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking and entertainment.

The Tempest is a magical fantasy set on an island ruled by Prospero, an exiled duke who uses his magic to shipwreck his usurpers and bring them ashore. The play opens with a massive storm aboard a ship, which will be conveyed through staging without the aid of lighting effects since it will be still be daylight in the park.

One of William Shakespeare’s last plays, The Tempest is often viewed as a personal reflection on his life in the theater and a poetic farewell. Comedy, revenge and romance mix with spirits and monsters in this play, which seems to be taken mostly from Shakespeare’s imagination.

“The play contains some of the richest characters, most beautiful poetry, largest abundance of music and magical spectacle seen in any of his plays,” said Arndt, artistic director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Co.

Kingsmen composer Chris Hoag created an original score with new songs written specifically for the show.

The cast contains six actors who are also Shakespeare directors, including Harold Dixon, who plays Prospero. The former chair of the theater arts department at the University of Arizona, Dixon has performed in regional theater productions across the country. Robert Nairn, 80, a native of Scotland who first appeared with Kingsmen in 1999, will be the oldest actor to ever take the Kingsmen stage when he performs as Gonzalo.

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theatre company of CLU. In addition to producing one of the area’s most popular outdoor theatrical events, it provides apprentice programs, an educational tour program and summer youth theater camps.

General admission is $20 for adults and free for those under 18. Premium box seats are $90 and side box seats are $75. Box seats accommodate six adults. For information or advance lawn box reservations, call 805.493.3014 or click here. Individual tickets are available only at the door.

— Karin Grennan is the media relations manager for California Lutheran University.