The Porters Present Year of the King Staged Readings

The Porters of Hellsgate are continuing their “Year of the King” 10th anniversary season with a series of staged readings highlighting three of Shakespeare’s kings at the Whitmore Theatre in North Hollywood. Each play is directed by and stars a company member who has played the role previously.

Last weekend, the series kicked off with Associate Artistic Director Thomas Bigley directing Richard II. This Saturday, August 6, Artistic Director Charles Pasternak returns to Los Angeles to direct Henry V, and on August 13, Associate Artistic Director Gus Krieger concludes the series directing Richard III.

Tickets are “pay what you can” and there will be a reception in the theater following each reading. Seating is limited so reserve now.

Year of the King - The PortersHENRY V
August 6, 2016
Ticket Link

August 13, 2016
Ticket Link

The Porters of Hellsgate @
The Whitmore Theatre
11006 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91602


Review: The Porters Reconstruct History in Henry VI Pts 1, 2 & 3

Christine Sage as Henry VI

Christine Sage as Henry VI. All photos by Mandi Moss

Attempting to produce all of Shakespeare’s plays would be daunting task for any theatre company but one young group of actors has continued to stay the course. Over a ten-year period, the Porters of Hellsgate have produced twenty of the playwright’s thirty-eight plays, steadily working toward their goal of being the first in Los Angeles to mount the entire canon. This season, they tackle three at once with Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 & 3.

Parts 1 & 2 have been trimmed to a single act each, performed together as one two-and-a-half-hour production. Part 3 has also been edited down to a similar length and is performed in repertory on alternating nights. Each is a stand-alone production so you can see one, or both, or even both in one day, if you like.

In either case, read the plot summaries in the program ahead of time, especially if you aren’t familiar with these plays, or with the Wars of the Roses. And let’s face it. Most of us are not.

If you break it down and divide the Wars into two parts – Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 & 3 and Richard III make up the second half of the story, but Shakespeare wrote this section first. He would later go back and write the first half of the story in Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V.

In essence, these eight plays deal with the passing of the crown back and forth between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. Both were descendants of Edward III with a legitimate claim to the throne, and therein lies the problem.  More

The Porters Announce Cast for HENRY VI Parts 1, 2 & 3

Porters Henry VIThe Porters of Hellsgate have announced the cast for their upcoming adaptation of Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3. The trilogy opens the company’s 10th Anniversary Season, The Year of the King, and is directed by Thomas Bigley and adapted by artistic director Charles Pasternak

Parts 1 & 2 will be presented together in a single, comprehensive play, with each part edited down to a single act beginning April 29. Henry VI Part 3 will preview on May 6 and officially open May 7. The plays will then be performed in rotating rep. If you’d like to see all 3 plays on the same date at a discount, you may purchase tickets for one of their double-show Sundays: May 8 & 29 or June 5 (2pm & 7pm).

The ensemble will feature a large cast of actors playing multiple roles and includes Robert Bedall, Thomas Bigley, Makeda Declet, Sean Faye, Jacques Freydont, David Ghilardi, Will Hickman, Matt Jayson, Gus Krieger, Michael Matthys, Nicholas Neidorf, Jessicah Neufeld, Kate O’Toole, Alex Parker, Timothy Portnoy, Christine Sage, Christopher Salazar, Gray Schierholt, and Liza de Weerd.

Performances will take place at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center, 11006 W Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are available at

Discount Ticket update:
You can see any performance of Henry VI Parts 1 & 2 and get a discount code for Part 3 at the theater. It isn’t limited to just the Double Show Days. If you’re interested in reserving tickets for both shows on Double Show Days ahead of time, please contact Production Manager Kate O’Toole at for special instructions.

Just tell them “The Porters Sent You”

Year of the King - The Porters

The inventive players of The Porters of Hellsgate invite you to join them on March 12 for a celebration to raise funds for their 10th Anniversary Season, The Year of the King at Hollywood’s Bar Covell. This special season of theatre will include an ambitious interpretation of the Henry VI trilogy, encore readings of Richard II, Henry V, and Richard III, and a repertory production of the Henry IV plays. The party will take place in the “secret room” at Bar Covell in Los Feliz (4628 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90027). Tickets include free food, beer, and wine, plus a raffle offering prizes sure to please.

Also part of the evening’s entertainment is something called “Hot Pepper Hamlet,” which will give guests the opportunity to compete for additional prizes — as well as acclaim for their artistry, humor, and fortitude. What is Hot Pepper Hamlet? I guess you’ll just have to buy a ticket and find out. More

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.


Photo Flash: The Porters Bring Back Breaking Bard

The Porters of Hellsgate’s Breaking Bard, now playing at the Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601. Click Here for tickets. For more about The Porters go to

Gus Krieger and Jesse James Thomas. Photos by Zachary Andrews

Gus Krieger and Jesse James Thomas. Photos by Zachary Andrews

Skyler's revenge 2

Gus Krieger and Kate O’Toole

Breaking Bard

Dana DeRuyck and Jesse James Thomas


The Porters of Hellsgate Remount Fringe Hit, Breaking Bard

Breaking Bard - The Porters of Hellsgate

Gus Krieger in Breaking Bard. Photo credit: Zach Andrews

Fresh off of their sold-out, critically acclaimed run at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, The Porters of Hellsgate have announced their upcoming remount of Breaking Bard, winner of the Ezra Buzzington Spirit of the Fringe Award for Best Writing (Gus Krieger, resident playwright and associate artistic director for The Porters).

Krieger’s play asks one of humanity’s most enduring questions: what if television’s Breaking Bad had been written by William Shakespeare? The Porters of Hellsgate present the most lamentable tragedie of Walter of Albuquerque: containing his treacherous plots, his pitiful murther, his tyrannical rise to power, and most deserved death.

The play has been revised and expanded to include even more key moments and favorite characters from television’s Breaking Bad, while still maintaining a brisk, one-act format.

Krieger stars as the villainous Lord Walter, with resident artist Kate O’Toole as his Lady, Skyler. A very special Chorus will be provided by William Hickman. Jesse James Thomas will reprise his Spirit of the Fringe-nominated turn as Walter’s squire, Jesse.

Also playing a variety of roles are Thomas Bigley, Dylan Booth, Dana DeRuyck, Sean Faye, Josh Heisler, Kipp Moorman, Burl Moseley, Mikel Parraga-Wills, Timothy Portnoy, and Troy Whitaker. Drina Durazo, nominated for Best Director at the Spirit of the Fringe awards, is returning to helm this bigger, badder, Bardier production.

Performances run Sept 24 – Nov 1 with opening night Saturday, Sept 26 at 8pm, Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm, and Sunday matinees at 2pm. There will be no performance on Saturday, October 31, but an extra performance on closing day, Sunday, November 1st, at 7pm.

This show was the hit of the fringe. You can read my previous review of the production HERE but suffice it to say that “Gus Krieger’s writing is smart, compact, wickedly funny, and exactly what you hope it will be when you picture a Walter White world with William Shakespeare dialogue…As the aha moments stack up, so do the laughs.” I’m not kidding when I say, get your tickets now. It sold out almost instantly the first time around and will absolutely do so again.

Sept 24 – Nov 1, 2015
Whitmore Lindley Theatre
11006 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Click Here for tickets ($25)

Fringe Review: The Porters of Hellsgate – BREAKING BARD

Breaking Bard - The Porters

Gus Krieger and Jesse James Thomas. Photo credit: Zach Andrews

This theatrical parody of a TV favorite has Fringe hit written all over it. Get your tickets now because the theater only has about 40 seats and this show is quickly going to sell out. It should. Gus Krieger’s writing is smart, compact, wickedly funny, and exactly what you hope it will be when you picture a Walter White world with William Shakespeare dialogue.

The show is full of surprises but far be it from me to spoil them for you. I’ll only highlight one bit of brilliant writing; Krieger’s transformation of Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man” into the “seven stages of cooking meth.” It’s worth the price of admission for that speech alone.

Characterized by fast-paced scenes that establish the chronology, hit the joke, land, and move on, and well-cast actors (seriously, every one of them nails his or her role/s), who find the comic hook for each character, it’s the kind of show that keeps you involved from beginning to end. As the aha moments stack up, so do the laughs.

Krieger has White down – the look, the stance, the serious consideration he gives to every problem at hand – even the singular way he reasons through to a solution. It’s a perfect fit for the actor/playwright and an inspired pairing if ever there was one. Jesse James Thomas trades street punk Jesse Pinkman’s trademark “bitch” moniker for “wench,” stretching it out a little longer each time as he comically flaunts the character’s vocal cadence.

Thomas Bigley makes an out-of-left-field cameo appearance late in the play that provides the perfect capper to the entire show. All that and a toilet on stage too. It’s a winner!

Ellen Dostal
Shakespeare in LA

June 6 – 28, 2015
Asylum Lab at Theatre Asylum,
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $10 at

Fringe Spotlight: The Porters of Hellsgate’s Breaking Bard

Breaking Bard

“For never was a tale more dark and quirky
Than this of Walter of Albuquerque.”
— Chorus, Breaking Bard

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival is gearing up for its annual summer theatre extravaganza and, this year, Shakespeare lovers will find a lot of productions to get excited about. Previews of the shows begin June 4 and the festival runs through June 28. You can check out the full show schedule at or review the list of Shakespeare shows to the right.

I’ll be spotlighting them over the next few weeks and today we take a look at what The Porters of Hellsgate will be presenting. Get ready for Breaking Bard by Gus Krieger — all 62 episodes of the hit television series Breaking Bad, presented in one hour, in Shakespearean verse. Yep, you heard that right.

So, what would happen if Breaking Bad had originally been written by The Bard? You’re about to find out in this one act play that offers up the most lamentable tragedy of Walter of Albuquerque complete with his treacherous plots, his pitiful murther, his tyrannical rise to power, and his most deserved death.

As for the genesis of the show, Krieger had this to say about his work: “As a lifelong Shakespeare devotee, Associate Artistic Director of a classical theatre company, and dyed-in-the-wool Breaking Bad fanatic, I would find myself staring at the ceiling many a sleepless night drawing connections between Bad and The Bard. Maybe it was just the universal nature of Shakespeare, or the sprawling themes of Vince Gilligan’s opus, but the dots continually connected: the fly scene in Titus and the episode “Fly.” The seven ages of man versus the seven stages of cooking meth. Mortality, family, ambition; it was all there. And the opportunity for an atypically academic spoof – call it Throne of Blood meets Airplane! – was just too good to pass up.”

Drina Durazo directs, with Gus Krieger starring as the villainous Lord Walter, Kate O’Toole as his Lady, Skyler, and Jesse James Thomas as his squire, Jesse. A very special chorus will be provided by Evan Lipkin. Sure to be a favorite of Breaking Bad fans and Shakespeare aficionados alike, it’s definitely one I can’t wait to see.

June 6 – 28, 2015
Asylum Lab at Theatre Asylum,
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $10 at

Review: The Porters Present a Prohibition Era OTHELLO

Othello - The Porters

Matt Calloway and Charles Pasternak. Photos by Zachary Andrews

Why does Iago hate the Moor? That has always been the great question in Othello and one for which Shakespeare provides no definitive answer. Yes, he feels slighted when Othello promotes Cassio over him but is that enough reason to plot the general’s demise? Is it because he believes that Othello has slept with his wife, or because of the color of his skin? Or are Iago’s actions fueled by something deeper like self-loathing?

Shakespeare purposely doesn’t answer the question because he is more interested in prompting the audience to draw its own conclusions. The ambiguity is essential to the play although productions will at times highlight one line of reasoning over another in an attempt to give Iago clearer motivation. But that decision robs the play of its mystery and limits the unsettling horror of what happens on stage.  More

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