ONE of the highlights of the summer months in Chester just got bigger and better.

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre has been attracting huge audiences to the city beauty spot for the past three years.

But its fourth year is going to be the project’s most ambitious to date with a total of three major productions and an increased run of eight weeks from July 5-August 25.

Last year’s season saw 10,500 theatregoers attend the unique picnic theatre.

Once again, Shakespeare will be at the heart of the season, this time with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Unlike previous years where the Bard’s romantic comedies have prevailed, a tragedy will be presented in 2013 – Othello - adding a new element to the critically acclaimed theatre.

Finally, its third production will be the swashbuckling story of Cyrano de Bergerac, a writer and swordsman, infamous for his extremely large nose.

All three will be performed in rep and, new for 2013 in the style of Shakespeare’s Globe, Othello will be rehearsed on the Grosvenor Park stage, whilst the other two plays are being performed to paying audiences.

Past successes have included Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Twelfth Night as well as new plays about Hercules and Merlin as well as a newly commissioned sequel to Twelfth Night, Masters Are You Mad?

Alex Clifton will return as the theatre’s artistic director. He said: “2013 looks to be our most exciting and challenging season to date.

“We have set a high bar for ourselves with the successes we have had since we began in 2010, and have prepared a programme for this summer which will, I believe, thrill our wonderful audience.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps Shakespeare’s most generous and warm comedy and it is often regarded as his funniest.

Cyrano de Bergerac is a dashing romance, celebrating love and the power of language – as well as the power of a sword.

Othello, an intense thriller, will provide a gripping, passionate and moving evening of theatre.

Alex added: “Bringing these three plays, about lovers struggling to find their ways to each other past deception and trickery, to our beautiful park this summer will be a great treat.

“We have again extended our run after the success of last year that our audiences brought us, and I very much look forward to meeting that brilliant audience again.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will run from July 5–August 25; Cyrano de Bergerac runs from July 12-August 25; Othello runs from August 2–23.

Tickets will be on sale in February. For more information, visit the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre website. The box office number is 0845 241 7868. You can also call into Chester Visitor Information Centre.

The season is presented by arts producer Chester Performs which creates, produces and stages innovative arts projects, specialising in presenting work in non-traditional venues and spaces.

In addition to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, they are also responsible for the Chester Summer Music Festival and the Chester Literature Festival.