Tina Packer, at UCCS Theatreworks, takes on Shakespeare's women, from Juliet to Joan of Arc

As founder of the Shakespeare & Company theater (a tradition in Lenox, Massachusetts for more than thirty years), Tina Packer knows her Shakespeare -- frontwards, backwards and any which way you want. She's also determined over time that the Bard created, by her estimate, only 177 major women characters, as apposed to 770 male roles of note, a discrepancy she says he only made up for by endowing them with a richness served only through understanding.

Packer's nearly one-woman show (actor Nigel Gore provides the male foil) Women of Will is slated to run next summer as part of Boulder's annual Colorado Shakespeare Festival. But in the meantime, Front Range audiences can get a sneak peak at the tour de force, in which she portrays everyone from Juliet to Joan of Arc, all of them delivered with a side of knowledgeable commentary gleaned from her years of directing and performing a steady diet of Shakespeare, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater in Colorado Springs.

Shows, presented by UCCS TheatreWorks, continue at 7:30 p.m. nightly, through Saturday, with additional matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $20 to $30 or free for UCCS students.

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