Casting Announced for Theatricum Botanicum’s Summer Shakespeare Plays

Justice has never been hipper than when Theatricum Botanicum presents Measure for Measure, re-setting the Bard’s dark comedy in California during the turbulent ‘60s, opening Saturday, June 2 at 8pm. Sex, liberation and the death penalty are just some of the themes explored in Measure for Measure, which makes it a perfect fit for the 1960s, the volatile heyday of protest and social change. Artistic director Ellen Geer uses the time shift to examine the issues with probing questions: Does society need its morality dictated by civil law? Which is more important to the health of a nation: mercy or justice? Does humanity need the death penalty to keep itself in line? Still as relevant today as when it was first performed, this unconventional comedy of ethics pits might against right in a battle of poetic justice.  

“The ‘60s were all about change,” Geer points out. “It was an era that saw people becoming actively involved, when issues of women’s rights, religious freedoms and the emergence of Black and Latino pride were at the forefront of political debate. Measure is one of Shakespeare’s quieter comedies, a little more serious in its subject matter, but with a happy ending nonetheless.”

The cast features Theatricum company members Willow Geer as Isabella; Aaron Hendry as Vincentio; Melora Marshall as Lucio; Earnestine Phillips as Mrs. Overdone; and Gerald C. Rivers as Pompey.

Also in the cast are Austin Andries (Varrius), Thomas Ashworth (Elbow), Crystal Clark (Juliet), Kevin Connolly (Friar Thomas), Gillian Doyle (Escalus), Bill Gunther (Abhorson), Charlie Howell (Barnardine), Leo Knudson (Froth), Adam Mondschein (Angelo), Taylor Jackson Ross (Francisca), Colin Simon (Claudio), Savannah Southern-Smith (Mariana), and Paul Turbiak (Jailor).

On Sunday, June 3, the afternoon following opening night of Measure for Measure, cast members Willow Geer, Melora Marshall, and Gerald C. Rivers will be back on stage for a matinee performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – this time in the roles of Helena, Quince and Bottom, respectively. Willow Geer and Melora Marshall also co-direct the production. Both plays will continue in repertory throughout the summer in the Theatricum’s 299-seat outdoor amphitheater, carved into the Topanga Canyon hillside.

The most magical outdoor setting in Los Angeles will be transformed into an enchanted fairy forest inhabited by lovers both fairy and human. In a world of wonder and romance, comical misunderstandings and the pain of unrequited love are resolved and all is reconciled through midsummer night revelries and the enduring power of nature.

The cast features Jonathan Blandino, Christine Breihan, Willow Geer and Max Lawrence as the lovers; Michael McFall as Oberon and Abby Craden as Titania; Samara Frame as Puck; Gerald C. Rivers as Bottom; and Charlie Howell, John Maidman, Melora Marshall, Evan Tamayo and Frank Weidner as the Rustics.

Mediterranean buffet “Dream Dinners,” with a costumed cast of fairies in attendance, will take place every Thursday in August at 6:30 pm in the theater’s adjacent gardens, followed by an 8 pm performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (separate admission, or combo packages available).

Measure for Measure runs Saturday, June 2 – September 1.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs Sunday, June 3 – September 30.

For performance schedule and to purchase tickets go to www.theatricum.com or call 310-455-3723. The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley.

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