Cast and Creative Team Announced for The Old Globe’s THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Old Globe - Two Gents

L-R: Kristin Villanueva (Julia), Adam Kantor (Proteus), Britney Coleman (Silvia) and Hubert Point-Du Jour (Valentine). Photo by Jim Cox.

The Old Globe has announced the cast and creative team for Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona which will be presented in the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, August 10 – September 14. Renowned director, Globe alumnus, and Tony Award nominee Mark Lamos (Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Pentecost, Resurrection Blues) returns to the Globe to direct one of Shakespeare’s most delightful and boisterous comedies.

Best friends Valentine and Proteus travel to the big city to seek their fortunes only to find themselves rivals, both madly in love with the beautiful Silvia, daughter of Milan’s most powerful duke. Two Gents is a fast-paced, exuberant tale of friendship, romance, and secret identities, featuring a band of outlaws, two bumbling servants, and one unforgettable dog.  More

UnMasqued Puts Bluegrass Twist on Much Ado About Nothing

UnMasqued, a young nomadic theatre company of artists, puts a musical twist on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing playing now through August 2nd at the Pieter Performance Art Space. The conceit follows The Arragons, a nationally acclaimed traveling band of bluegrass/folk musicians, returning from their year-long tour to the place that started it all, The Messina.

Here they present the story of their time together as a band on tour – the struggle, the love and betrayal, and a witty battle of the sexes – all events that have become the inspiration for the band’s new album, Much Ado About Nothing. For a few special performances at their favorite venue, The Arragons will give a sneak peak of their new songs and an inside look into the lives of the artists.  More

Review: SCLA’s Jazz Age Romeo and Juliet is an Electric Affair

SCLA - Romeo and Juliet

Jack Mikesell and Christina Elmore. Photos by Michael Lamont

“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.”

It is a chilling conclusion when Kimberly Scott repeats the text of the prologue again at the end of Romeo and Juliet while standing over the dead bodies of the lovers. You can hear the bitter warning in her voice as she slowly looks from one end of the stage to the other at two fathers who have paid the price of their feud in blood. As her weighty words hang in the air, the lights dim, and Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’s magnificent production slowly fades to black.

Director Ken Sabberton creates a stream of moments that resonate like this one in his sleek interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy that transports the Capulets and Montagues to the Roaring Twenties when two Los Angeles newspaper rivals (Harry Chandler and William Randolph Hearst) fought for control of the city.

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Review: For Theatricum Botanicum, All’s Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well -Theatricum

Earnestine Phillips and Willow Geer. Photos by Miriam Geer

In Theatricum Botanicum’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the action begins and ends with a song. At rise it is the somber lamentation that accompanies a funeral procession and at the play’s conclusion, an uplifting madrigal “Sing We Enchant It.” This bookending of the play with two very different types of music – sacred vs. secular – is one of the ways that co-directors Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones subtly underscore the distinctions presented in Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedy.

Another is the way they cast the high-born and low-born characters. Though race is not specified in the text, the decision to use actors of color for the former and Caucasian actors for the latter works on the modern sensibilities of the audience. It broadens our perceptions while making a very important point: good breeding is not always synonymous with good character. If it were, Bertram (Max Lawrence), with all the wealth and privilege afforded by his station, would not behave like such a cad.  More

Review: Downtown Rep Revives THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Downtown Rep - Merchant  of Venice
Within the courtyard of the historic Pico House in downtown LA, the Downtown Repertory Theater Company is in the midst of offering its sixth season of classical works. Led by artistic director Devon Armstrong, they have taken on Chekhov, Marlowe, Odets and numerous plays by Shakespeare, all while encouraging actors to tackle roles they might not otherwise have the opportunity to play.

The three story brick building makes a perfect setting for Shakespeare, with its picturesque arches, metal railings and balconies. It should, since it was originally built in 1869 by Don Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, who opened it as the first luxury hotel in LA. The back wall of the courtyard was also the site of the first theater in Los Angeles so it is fitting that it is once again used in that artistic capacity. It makes an especially beautiful setting for the company’s current production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Ivan Rivas and starring David Nathan Schwartz as Shylock.  More

Review: Blair Underwood and Richard Thomas Lead a Powerful OTHELLO

Othello - The Old Globe

Kristen Connolly and Blair Underwood with Noah Bean and Richard Thomas (background). Photos by Jim Cox.

There is no redemption in Othello. Shakespeare has provided no late opportunity to undo what has been done, no chance to make amends for the terrible wrongs lavished upon the innocent, and no way for the audience to feel anything but horror for the treachery that has filled the stage for two and a half hours.

That such a series of betrayals could be orchestrated by one man so lacking in remorse that his final words of explanation are merely that he will give no explanation speaks to how calculated Shakespeare’s choice is to leave the audience without closure. An unrepentant Iago (Richard Thomas) denies a devastated Othello (Blair Underwood) the one thing he desperately seeks to know – why – by saying, “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. From this time forth I never will speak word.” And when Thomas delivers those final words calmly, coolly, without even looking at him, it is enough to give you chills.  More

New Swan Shakespeare Festival Begins 3rd Season of Theatre-in-the-Round Tonight

New Swan Theater

New Swan Shakespeare Festival presents its third annual season of Shakespearean productions under the stars, in a unique and intimate mini-Elizabethan theater. Last summer the 125-seat theater-in-the-round hosted over 4,000 patrons at its sold-out shows, firmly establishing it as a destination event for summer entertainment, artistic satisfaction, and family fun.

This season the Festival presents freshly imagined productions of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, which will run in rotating repertory July 10 through August 30. New this year are pre-performance seminars that will be held on many nights adjacent to the theater on the Gateway Plaza in front of UC Irvine’s Langson Library.

The theater will also host its first musical event, Mozart Monday, a fundraiser on Monday, August 18. The evening features Maestro Benjamin Simon and friends from the LA Philharmonic in a program of chamber music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  More

Review: SOC Sails to the South Pacific for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

SOC - Midsummer

L-R: Josele de Guzman, Sammy McClymonds Nguyen and John Daskalakis. Photos by Jordan Kubat

Yes, it takes a village. Shakespeare Orange County has pulled out all the stops, and even enlisted a not-so-secret weapon, to accomplish an extraordinarily beautiful debut in its first official production under new artistic director, John Walcutt. No less than 30 actors, 32 dancers, 10 drummers, a creative staff of 13, and countless additional volunteers have brought this Polynesian Dream, set in the 1700s, to life. It is a remarkable achievement that all starts with the intoxicating world created by director Susan Angelo. And what a world it is.

The drumming begins and from all sides they come: down the aisles, out from the wings, up onto the stage, almost as though they walk on air – each cluster filling the space with its own charismatic energy. There are silky-skinned Polynesian dancers who mesmerize with their skill; British colonials full of militaristic intensity; a band of mischievous fairies led by a dark and imposing king, and a fairy queen in gossamer white with an entourage of colorful pixies.  More

Interview: Allison Volk and City Shakes Ponder “To Live or Die” in Life and Art

On Friday, July 11th, The City Shakespeare Company will open a gritty production of Romeo & Juliet that asks: What would you die for? Allison Volk, co-founder of City Shakes who also plays Lady Capulet and Benvolio in the production, offered these thoughts on the subject by members of her company.

What Would You Die For?
By Allison Volk

I asked some of the major players in our production the same question; not what would their characters die for, but what would THEY, the actor, die for? Initially I assumed that everyone would have the same obvious answer, but when I pulled people aside, I suddenly saw how intimately personal the question actually is.  More

New Web Series A MIDSEMESTER NIGHT’S DREAM Coming This Fall

Premiering this October on YouTube – the new web series A Midsemester Night’s Dream – an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in college by Third Star Productions’ Julia Seales, Rachel Brittain, and Lauren Mandel. Check out their promo above and watch for updates on their Tumblr channel at http://midsemester.tumblr.com/. Enjoy!

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