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Photos: Kentucky Shakespeare's Return Draw Big Crowd

Kentucky Shakespeare opened its 54th Shakespeare Festival Thursday with “A Midsummer Night's Dream”  in the C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheatre in Old Louisville's Central Park. About 700 people showed up. This year’s Shakespeare Festival comes with some changes, including an extended stage, a wireless microphone system to amplify the actors’ voices—as well as a new artistic director, Matt Wallace. Related: Erin Keane's Review of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Wallace said he wanted Kentucky Shakespeare Festival—the longest-running free outdoor Shakespeare festival in the United States—to have more of a “festival feel.” That means nightly pre-performance entertainment, a bevy of food trucks, a full bar and an extended season that includes eight mainstage productions— three from Kentucky Shakespeare, and the others from local companies Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble, Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company, Walden Theatre and ShoeString Productions. Photos by Alix Mattingly.

Tony Milder plays the mischievous fairy Puck, alongside Vaughn Ramirez as the changeling boy.

Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace introduces "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Devin Franklin, left, Stephanie Rowe and Rachel White sit with Reese the dog before the start of the play.    

Philip Clark prepares food in Red's Gourmet Hot Dog truck.

Lance Minnis, who goes by the stage name Jack Salt, talks to family and friends after his pre-show performance.

Jacob Endris, an intern with Kentucky Shakespeare, interacts with the crowd as a Shakespearean character who was unfamiliar with modern things festival-goers were using.

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