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Leading Lady

Katie Marcel and the Livermore Shakespeare Festival are flourishing.

As any good wine country resident knows, the key to creating a truly memorable blend is identifying the strengths of each grape and combining them to enhance the overall product.

Fitting, then, that when Katie Marcel, the managing director of Shakespeare’s Associates, started scouting new locations to host their summer series, she sought a venue that would pair well with the laid-back appeal of Livermore Shakes.

In the end, the company found the perfect partner: The Wente Vineyards Estate Winery and Tasting Room. “Having that Wente brand, that casual wine experience, combined with our accessible theater—it’s a great match,” Marcel says.

The new backdrop is sure to be a hit with fans of the yearly festival, which in 2014 drew more than 4,000 people to its 17 summer performances. Fans can still expect a casual, relaxed environment with lots of wine, food and picnic areas. In 2015, the company will stage two romantic comedies: As You Like It and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, running from July 2 through August 2.

For Marcel—who grew up in North Dakota as a self-professed “theater geek,” went on to earn a degree in theater from Santa Clara University and eventually performed off-Broadway—the success of Livermore Shakes has been rewarding both professionally and personally.

A former founding commissioner of Livermore’s Commission for the Arts, she’s seen firsthand how the Tri-Valley arts scene has taken root. Through her work with the Livermore Downtown, Inc. nonprofit, she’s helped spur the city’s downtown revitalization. And Marcel has served on Shakespeare’s Associates’ board of directors since its inception.

“Livermore Shakespeare Festival marries two of my great loves: theater and the Livermore Valley wine country,” Marcel says. “We exhibit all the char- acteristics that make this region special: the clever and charming cultural events, and the casual elegance of Livermore Valley wine country.”