Party like its 1783 at Mr. Jefferson’s Palace Garden Party

aheymann@vagazette.com

Have you ever wanted to don 18th-century attire and party like it’s 1784? Well now’s your chance. Colonial Williamsburg will hold its third annual Mr. Jefferson’s Palace Garden Party on May 3.

The party will be full of period music, dancing, games and a firework demonstration over the Governor’s Palace formal gardens.

“We found a quote two years ago that referred to ‘May in the mind and the heart,’ which is actually a line from an 18th-century play,” said Bill Schermerhorn, creative director for signature events at Colonial Williamsburg. “So we took that concept of celebrating the frivolity of May, which Jefferson would have done — it’s not necessarily historically accurate, but it’s the May garden party you would have imagined it to be in the 18th-century.”

While guests are encouraged to wear their best 18th-century attire, Schermerhorn said you won’t be turned away for showing up in 21st-century clothing.

“If you are more comfortable wearing evening attire and donning a tricorn hat or a shawl with a mask or a fan, that will be perfectly welcome,” Schermerhorn said. “Mr. Jefferson will invite all of you.”

Schermerhorn said this year’s theme is “Midsummer’s Dream” because Jefferson was actually a big fan of William Shakespeare.

In the spirit of Jefferson’s love of the writer, the party also will feature a performance by Colonial Williamsburg’s newest Revolutionary in Residence, Steven Skybell. Schermerhorn said the Broadway and Shakespeare’s Globe performer will present a half hour of monologues from Shakespeare.

“I have always wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to finally visit as a Revolutionary in Residence,” said Skybell in a prepared statement. “As a Shakespeare professional, I appreciate historical practices and can’t wait to perform at the Garden Party under an open sky, which is how many of Shakespeare’s texts were initially intended to be performed. It is sure to be a great time for all.”

If all that reveling makes you peckish, there will be an elaborate spread of desserts and a selection of fine wines courtesy of the Williamsburg Winery available to guests.

“We’ve got music, we’ve got theatrics, we’ve got wine, we have fireworks and we have Thomas Jefferson,” Schermerhorn said. “It's the perfect 18th-century evening to celebrate spring, and the Governor’s Palace garden is the perfect place to have this Shakespearean dream this year.”

Want to go?

From 7-9 p.m. May 3 at the Governor’s Palace, 300 Palace Green St. Tickets are $100 and all attendees must be at least 21 years or older. Buy tickets at colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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