Here are the Top 5 new things about the 2016 Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF), which runs from July 8 through August 13 at Ewing Cultural Center in Bloomington.

5. New general manager

Benjamin Young, most recently the general manager of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Theatre and Dance, will join the ISF management team in March, bringing his skills in marketing, sales, and finance to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Read more about this exciting addition to the festival staff.

4. New scholarship

Thanks to the generosity of longtime ISF patron Craig Sutter, the Sutter Family Shakespeare Scholarship has been created for Illinois State students who are interested in internships with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. ISF’s first “Sutter Scholar,” Thomas Russell ’18, will join the ISF acting company this summer. For more information about this scholarship, check out this video.

3. New Hamlet

ISF will produce Shakespeare’s timeless masterpiece, Hamlet, for the fifth time in its 39-year history, but this will be the first time that a woman will star in the title role. Milwaukee actress Deborah Staples, who captivated audiences in 2014 as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth Rex, returns in 2016.

2. New ticket price

The 2016 season includes the often-taught Hamlet, Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night, and Broadway hit, Peter and the Starcatcher, written by Rick Elise and based on the popular children’s book. To make the festival even more accessible to families in the community, ISF has restructured its ticket pricing to include a discounted Silver Section, student tickets starting at $12, and student subscriptions starting at $33.

1. New website

As ISF increasingly grows as a weekend destination for out-of-town patrons, its new website,, has been revamped to include comprehensive information about the productions, tips for planning a visit, and other local attractions. Coming soon will be an extensive archive of previous productions and an artists page featuring photographs and bios of the extraordinary professional theatre artists from across the country, who ISF brings to Bloomington-Normal each summer.