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‘Othello,’ ‘Comedy of Errors’ open Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona

Theatergoers looking for an excursion outside of the Twin Cities can head down the Mississippi River valley for the annual Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, which opened Wednesday.

The 2010 Festival has plenty of special events on tap for this weekend, including performances of “The Comedy of Errors” and “Othello,” plus special talk-back sessions, receptions and a Sunday evening “Picnic on a Stick.” More special events are planned for the following Fourth of July weekend, when the festival’s first musical, “The Daly News,” opens.

For “The Comedy of Errors,” the festival’s producing director, Paul Barnes, moves the action to 1930s New Orleans and features plenty of music to go alongside the classic action. “Othello” features Corey Allen in the title role, Christopher Gerson as Iago and Shanara Gabrielle as Desdemona.

The musical, written by resident company member Jonathan Gillard Daly with music by Gregg Coffin and Larry Delinger, looks back to the playwright’s family history. During World War II, patriarch Martin kept the family connected, even with four sons and a son-in-law fighting in both theaters of war, through a weekly newsletter.

Great River Shakespeare Festival. Performances are held at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Winona State University; the festival runs through Aug. 1. Tickets are $20 to $37. For information, call (507) 474-7900 or visit online.

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