Ticket sales at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have climbed steadily this summer and are up 1 percent compared to last year, the festival's executive director said.

Ticket sales at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have climbed steadily this summer and are up 1 percent compared to last year, the festival's executive director said.

OSF officials are delighted at the news, especially because — in the throes of the recession last fall — they predicted ticket sales might plummet as much as 7 percent this year.

"This puts us significantly better that we had ever anticipated being," said Paul Nicholson, the festival's executive director. "It's awfully busy and there are a lot of very happy people around."

Through April ticket sales were down 3.5 percent. But as soon as summer set in, the tickets started selling — fast, Nicholson said.

If the trend continues, this could be the festival's best season ever, he said.

Last year, the festival sold 400,851 tickets, its second highest number ever. During the record year, in 2007, OSF sold 404,735 tickets.



If sales stay up about 1 percent through the end of this season, the festival should sell between 400,000 and 404,000 tickets, Nicholson said.

"That would place it as one of the top three seasons in festival history," he said. "We just don't know exactly where it's going to land."

OSF is playing at 89 percent of capacity, Nicholson said.

Some of the most popular shows are close to sold out for the entire season, which ends Nov. 1, he said.

Several of the festival's more provocative or atypical plays, such as "Equivocation" and "Paradise Lost," are popular with visitors, much to the relief of OSF officials, Nicholson added.

"I think the thing that was interesting was that we had really a significant number of risks in the season this year," he said.

"At a time when we might have anticipated everybody grimly hanging on, people are feeling pretty good."



Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.