Ohio Shakespeare Festival will stage "Henry IV, part 1," through Aug. 17. The play was scheduled to open July 31.

Shows are Thursday through Sunday evenings at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, 714 N. Portage Path in Akron.

With this week's opening of Shakespeare's Henry IV, part one, Ohio Shakespeare Festival begins a two-year initiative to bring to life two the best of Shakespeare's History plays.

For the past four seasons, OSF has been successfully showcasing the less-frequently-performed plays in Shakespeare's canon, including "King Lear," "Richard III," "Love's Labours Lost," and "Cymbeline." Changing that arc a bit, for the next two seasons, OSF now turns to the Histories, beginning with Henry IV, part one, and continuing next summer with Henry V.

Both plays will feature longtime company member Andrew Cruse as Prince Hal, and later King Henry V. The same OSF Company will perform both plays (except for those unfortunate casualties of the rebellion and grand battles in Henry IV.) Henry IV features one of Shakespeare's most beloved recurring characters, that "tub of butter" Sir John Falstaff, who spends his days drinking, carousing, and leading future monarch Prince Hal astray. Falstaff will be played by OSF Artistic Director Terry Burgler, with other cast members including David McNees as King Henry IV, and Joe Pine as the rebel Hotspur.

The run includes a preview performance on July 31, with all tickets on $12, as well as either reserved, or open-seating tickets available for all other performances.

Grounds open at 6 p.m. for picnicking, the Greenshow beings at 7:30, and Henry IV begins at 8 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, rain or shine.

For the two Henries, in a desire to help bridge an ever-widening gap in Humanities and History education, and supported in part by the Akron Community Foundation, the ExxonMobil Foundation, and the Corbin Foundation, OSF is offering a free student night (with ID) on Aug. 7. Open-seating tickets will be available to all students (at the gate only) beginning at 6 p.m. that evening, until sold out. Easy to follow study guides and family trees will be available.

For details, visit www.ohioshakespeare.com or call 330-673-8761.