BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's been a cultural institution in Buffalo for close to five decades and the founder of Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Saul Elkin, is still taken back at what it's become.
"I didn't know when I started this 47 years ago that it would go beyond a year or two, I really didn't." said Elkin. "What happened was in that very first year we did one play and hundreds of people showed up, I thought 'well we can't stop, we have to keep going' and so we did."
Since that time Shakespeare in Delaware Park has attracted 40,000 people a year to the famous hillside stage with fans of all ages gathering to see the works of the celebrated English playwright come to life, all for free.
And since 1976, as either an actor or director, Elkin has been there every step of the way. But this year, at the age of 90, he's decided to take a step back.
"I can't walk away from Shakespeare in the Park, it's too much a part of my life," said Elkin. "So I'm going to be here, I'm going to be on the board, I'm going to be a part of the decision-making process. I had originally intended to direct the next show in the park, but then I realized it was more than I could handle physically."
Elkin will be forever remembered when they name the stage, "The Saul Elkin Stage" at Shakespeare in Delaware Park.
"None of this would be here if it wasn't for him," said Norm Sham, an actor who has been part of the theatre company and worked with Elkin for close to 20 years. "It's his spirit, his love, his passion that fuels us all. He was the one that hired us all."
There will be a different feel with Elkin in a different role this year, but he will be the first to tell you the show must go on.
"I hope that Shakespeare in the Park goes on forever," said Elkin.
"As You Like It" began Thursday and will be performed through July 17. The main stage shows are held every evening, except for Mondays, at 7:15 p.m. on Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park. You can find more information here.