New Swan Shakespeare Festival Presents Two Shakespeare Classics

New Swan - As You Like It

New Swan Shakespeare Festival’s As You Like It. Photos by Paul Kennedy

New Swan Shakespeare Festival’s 5th season is currently featuring two Shakespearean classics, As You Like It and Hamlet, in its mini-Elizabethan theater on the campus of UC Irvine. Since the festival debuted in 2012 the two-play season has grown to include a Music Monday series featuring diverse performances such as “Shakespeare’s Fool” featuring Jason Freddy’s trio, the all-female Mariachi Las Colibrí II, and Mozart Mondays, as well as a seminar series that takes place an hour before curtain.

Eli Simon, New Swan’s artistic director, helms As You Like It, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy of love and disguise, exile and companionship. Simon sets the show in the Depression Era, with original folk music written by Alan Terricciano, and performed by the actors, for an intimate evening of love, fantasy, and companionship…as you like it.

New Swan - Hamlet

New Swan Shakespeare Festival’s Hamlet

Returning for her fourth season with the festival to direct Hamlet is Beth Lopes, associate artistic director of New Swan Shakespeare Festival. At its heart, Hamlet is a ghost story. While most of us push away the shadow of mortality, Hamlet embraces it in the form of his father’s ghost. This ghost is present throughout this production, driving the action forward and forcing his son to grapple with outrageous circumstances.

Lopes says, “We all carry ghosts with us – ghosts which comfort and ghosts which burden – and we can’t always choose which ones we will encounter. Luckily for Hamlet, and for the audience, his father’s ghost appears to us all, and we travel on this journey together as the boy becomes a man … and then a ghost story of his own. This visceral, fast-paced production is perfectly suited for the vulnerable intimacy of the New Swan Theater.”

Please note that, due to the theater configuration, there is no late seating for the performances. For tickets and more information, visit


Shakespearean Vaudeville Premieres at Shakespeare Orange County

SOC - Sonnets

Patrick Peterson and Allison Volk

Shakespeare Orange County has commissioned a new piece by Southern California playwright Allison Volk in honor of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Sonnets, Songs & Sorry, Will’s Been Dead 400 Years! is a rollicking “Shakespearean vaudeville” that will receive its world premiere at SOC on Sunday, July 10 at 7pm.

The 90-minute play uses modern language, as well as Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, to explore what happens backstage when SOC company members learn that a direct descendant of William Shakespeare is coming to see their performance of Hamlet. Mistaken identities, unrequited love and plenty of humor is on tap during this crowd-pleasing comic romp.

Directed by SOC veteran Colin Martin, the show stars Nicholas Thurkettle, Sonja Inge, Patrick Peterson, Ben Horowitz and Allison Volk, plus an ensemble of acting conservatory students from the Orange County High School of Performing Arts.

Sonnets, Songs & Sorry, Will’s Been Dead 400 Years!
July 10 – August 7, 2016
Sundays at 7pm
Garden Grove Amphitheater
12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840

Two Plays, One Cast for Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern at ACTC


American Coast Theater Company, the resident professional theater of Vanguard University, will present two plays as part of its 2016 Summer Series. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead will be performed in repertory, in the Lyceum Theater on Vanguard’s Costa Mesa campus, beginning June 3.

Jeremy Aluma, founder of the award-winning clown troupe, Four Clowns, directs Hamlet, while Christi McHale, associate producing director for ACTC, directs Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

“I plan to use the audience as a more involved participant in the play, using them like another character,” said Aluma. “I also want them to have some kind of relationship to the ghosts and death in the play. Life is precious and Hamlet’s hesitancy to kill his uncle is not cowardice; it is his understanding that life is important, which leads us to think about what life is worth.”

The same actors will play roles in both productions, which will allow the audience to experience the characters from two different points of view; one dramatic, the other more comedic, both unified by related themes, questions, and tragedy.

Those actors are Susan Berkompas, James McHale, Paul Eggington, Amanda Zarr, Brock Milhorn, Ian Jenkins, Ahmed Brooks, Katie Canavan, Tyler Thoreson, Aaron McGee, Taylor Stephenson, Andrew Puente, Jason Evans, and Lola Kelly.

In one half of the experience, audiences will hear Shakespeare’s classic verse – in the other, Stoppard’s witty and philosophical modern banter juxtaposed with physical comedy. The two productions will also share a unified aesthetic and design, with scenic elements woven throughout both shows.

“We will be physicalizing the idea of man as a puppet through the action on stage and the design, in a way that we cannot wait to share with audiences,” said McHale. “It’s a wonderfully collaborative process with the actors and whole design team; the device of actors performing a play within a play gives us so much room for creativity and theatricality.”

June 10 – July 3, 2016
June 3 – July 3, 2016
American Coast Theater Company
Vanguard University
The Lyceum Theatre
55 Fair Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016

SHappy New Year and welcome back Shakespeare lovers! 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616) and that means it’s another big year ahead honoring one of the greatest writers of all time. Here’s a look at what’s coming so get out your calendars and make note.

Antaeus Theatre Company starts the year with its popular ClassicsFest reading series featuring four plays in January and February. Among them are Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning absurdist play, initiated by Bo Foxworth and Adrian LaTourelle, directed by John Henry Davis (Jan. 17 & 18), and Shakespeare’s classic The Winter’s Tale, initiated and directed by Elizabeth Swain (Jan. 31 & Feb. 1). These member-driven developmental readings are often the first step in the company’s progression to a fully-staged production and are a great way to become immersed in the plays.

For Valentine’s Day, A Noise Within will present Romeo & Juliet directed by Dámaso Rodríguez. Rodriguez is currently artistic director at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland but is well-known in LA. from his time spent as associate artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse and co-artistic director of Furious Theatre Company. In his streamlined interpretation of the story, he says, “the design and concept will evoke a street performance in an economically and socially repressed, centuries-old city.” It will remain focused on the play’s primary relationships and feature a diverse cast, original music by Martin Carrillo, and minimal props and costumes. A pre-show discussion will take place Feb. 17 prior to the performance at 6pm. Post-show conversations with the cast will follow the 8pm performances on March 18, April 8 & 29, and May 8 (2pm).

The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater has been developing an original work based on the fascinating character of Queen Margaret who appears in Henry VI Parts 1-3 and Richard III. Shakespeare’s Rose Queen is told from Margaret’s point of view and runs Feb. 20 – March 3 at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena. Starring Megan Rippey as Margaret, Rose Queen’s gritty story will feature battles choreographed as movement pieces by Lineage Dance Company’s artistic director, Hilary Thomas, and other new elements of storytelling in an intimate theater setting. The cast also includes Brian White as Suffolk/Edward, Natalie Fryman as Eleanor/Richard III, Jay Blair as Henry VI, Sonny Calvano as Warwick, and other to be announced. Shakespeare’s Rose Queen follows previous original works by the company – Shakespeare’s Lovers and its international hit, Shakespeare’s Villains.


Shakespeare Orange County Sets As You Like It in Elizabethan England

As You Like ItCelebrating the joy of love, liberty and great wit, Shakespeare Orange County will present Shakespeare’s As You Like It, August 13 – 29. The cast will feature Josh Odsess-Rubin as Rosalind, with Cynthia Aldrich (Phebe), Alex Bodrero (Jacques), Marisa Costa (Celia), Michael Drace Fountain (Duke Senior), John Frederick Jones (Adam), Colin Martin (Orlando), Blake Prentiss (Oliver), A.J. Smitrovich (Duke Frederick) and Tony Torrico (Touchstone).

“With great veteran Shakespearean actors like John-Frederick Jones, this will definitely be a charming and enchanting production,” says SOC producing artistic director John Walcutt. “It will be a lot of fun for all audiences, with great surprises, disguises and cross-dressing antics that have made this play beloved for more than four centuries.”

Director Peter Uribe adds, “We have moved our As You Like It from its setting in France to the time and place it was written. We’re really enhancing the experience of being back in Elizabethan England with Renaissance period entertainment before the show and plenty of rich period costumes onstage.”  More

Review: Shakespeare Orange County’s Romeo & Juliet

SOC Romeo & Juliet

Rámon de Ocampo and his friends. All photos by Jordan Kubat

As an attempt to increase its cultural relevance, involve the community, and expand its audience base, Shakespeare Orange County’s Romeo & Juliet is an admirable venture. Directors Mike Peebler and John Walcutt have integrated several hometown groups to appeal to its neighboring communities: the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, the 40-year-old folklórico group Relámpago del Cielo from Santa Ana, the Korean Social Club of Orange County, and students from the Orange County School of the Arts.  More

SOC Will Create One Big Family Under the Stars with Romeo and Juliet

SOC Romeo and Juliet

Ramón de Ocampo and Nikki SooHoo

For its first production of Summerfest 2015, Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) applies its theme of uniting ‘One Big Family Under the Stars’ to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s romantic drama of star-crossed lovers separated by irreconcilable families. Romeo and Juliet will open on July 11, with a special Night in White pre-show dinner package available, and continue through August 1.

Romeo and Juliet, arguably western literature’s most famous love story, was written early in Shakespeare’s career and, along with Hamlet, remains his most frequently performed play. It has inspired art in every media, including Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 film version, which will screen at the amphitheater on June 27.

When producing artistic director John Walcutt took over the 36-year-old company in 2014, it was with a pledge to use Orange County’s centrally located amphitheater to build bridges between generations and across the more than 70 languages spoken in the community.

“Shakespeare’s script shows how a community can be fragmented by hostility and ignorance,” said Walcutt, who co-directs with associate artistic director Mike Peebler. “Our production shows how a community can come together through artistic endeavor.”  More

Shakespeare Orange County Announces Complete Summer Season

Shakespeare Orange County launches Summerfest 2015 on June 13 with a classic radio comedy, followed by productions of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It, Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, John Slade’s acclaimed I Sing Walt Whitman, an encore presentation of last season’s sold-out hit Trieu Tran (Unplugged), a new play reading, and a new Friday Night Film Series.

The season officially kicks off June 13 with a Celebrity 1939 Radio Show and Gala. The script, an original from the days of live radio, will be performed by an all-star cast including Rene Auberjonois, John de Lancie, Seamus Deaver, Robert Hays, Kurtwood Smith, Nikki Soohoo, Joe Spano, Tamlyn Tomita, Trieu Tran, JoBeth Williams, and Stephanie Zimbalist.

Romeo and JulietRomeo and Juliet opens July 11 and continues through August 1. Shakespeare’s most famous love story, set against the backdrop of two feuding families, becomes an opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity. Co-directors Walcutt and associate artistic director Mike Peebler have cast Trieu Tran and Nikki Soohoo as the star-crossed lovers.

“While Vietnamese and Mexican cultures will be realistically represented,” Walcutt says, “the play’s friction is based in families, which are already intermingled, and not in ethnic differences. The production reflects that larger message. It is produced in association with VAALA, the Orange County School of the Arts, and Relámpago del Cielo, the 50-year-old folklórico group from Santa Ana. Relámpago will be performing live onstage, for instance at the party Romeo crashes. It will be Juliet’s quinceanera, where the guests join in traditional quinceanera dances. It’s going to be very exciting.”  More

Romeo & Juliet: Happy Endings at Segerstrom Concert Hall


April 19 at 3:00 pm, relive the timeless tale of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers through Prokofiev’s masterful music. Carl St. Clair conducts Orange County’s Pacific Symphony in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64 featuring dancers David Tai Kim (as Young Romeo) and Keira Schwartz (as Young Juliet), choreographed by Lorin Johnson, with actors Rich Wordes as Romeo (Actor) and Amy Hitchcock as Juliet. For this concert, the actors and dancers will reinstate the original happy ending, which was banned by Joseph Stalin in favor of Shakespeare’s tragic finale.

There will also be a free pre-concert discussion: Romeo and Juliet: How Should The Story End? from 1:00 – 2:30 pm in the Judy Morr Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, featuring Joseph Horowitz and UC Irvine Professor Julia Lupton, as well as the actors. Using film clips, they explore the different ways in which the lovers’ tale has been told, with special attention given to Prokofiev’s translation of an Elizabethan tragedy into a Soviet ballet. To attend the event, RVSP to

The concert is part of Shakespeare Reimagined, a semester-long festival in partnership with Chapman University, celebrating Shakespeare through music, film, theatre and dance. Click Here for more information.

Fall in Love Under the Stars with Shakespeare Summerfest Orange County

Shakespeare-Summerfest Orange County has announced its 2015 season of love, which features two of Shakespeare’s most magical and moving plays. Tickets are available at Box office opens May 1st, (714) 590-1575. Here’s a look at what’s to come.

Saturday, June 13, 2015
2nd Annual Season Kickoff Celebrity Gala
Join SOC for another radio drama performance featuring a blockbuster lineup of celebrities from Hollywood and Broadway. VIP tickets are also available to dine with the stars or attend the after-party.

SOC R and JJuly 2 – August 1, 2015: Romeo and Juliet
Starring acclaimed Vietnamese-American TV star Trieu Tran as Romeo, and featuring Santa Ana’s renowned 50-year old Mexican Folklorico troupe Relámpago del Cielo led by Marlene Peña-Marin, this co-production with VAALA (The Vietnamese-American Arts and Letters Association) reflects today’s multi-cultural society not as one race against the other, but as the amazing melting pot we have become. Co-directed by producing artistic director John Walcutt and associate artistic director Mike Peebler.


Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: