Inara George in Concert with Music Inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Inara George 2014Inara George presents A Concert Tribute to William Shakespeare, on Saturday, Oct. 18, 6:00 pm at Theatricum Botanicum. The acclaimed singer/songwriter, a homegrown Topangan, shares the stage with an exciting musical lineup of guest artists. In honor of Theatricum’s ongoing celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, original musical compositions inspired by his sonnets will be performed. Tickets are $35.00; no charge for children 5 and under. Call (310) 455-3723 or visit Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N Topanga Cyn Blvd. Topanga, CA 90290.


Review: Equivocation – It’s all in the Details and Theatricum Gets Them All Right

Equivocation - Theatricum

Alan Blumenfeld and Ted Barton. Photos by Ian Flanders

Throughout two thirds of Bill Cain’s political thriller Equivocation, a confused Shagspeare (known to us otherwise as Shakespeare, played by Ted Barton) keeps asking questions and getting answers that don’t make sense. Finally a circumspect Father Garnet (Franc Ross) tells him to look for the question beneath the question and suddenly the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.

What Shag is having difficulty with are discrepancies in the stories each side tells of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The event is still celebrated in England today and concerns an alleged Catholic plot to blow up King James (Dane Oliver) and the Parliament.  More

Review: Chemistry Drives Theatricum Botanicum’s Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing - Theatricum

Robertson Dean and Susan Angelo

What a wonder is love in the hands of a writer like Shakespeare. Through comedy, tragedy, sonnet and poem, the way he captures lovers and their essence is pure magic. In Much Ado About Nothing, bringing that magic to life depends largely on its leading man and lady, and when a company gets the pairing right, the experience is so thoroughly engaging you never want it to end.

That’s the case with Theatricum Botanicum’s current production, directed by Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones, who could not have cast two actors with more chemistry, or a better understanding of Beatrice and Benedick, than Susan Angelo and Robertson Dean.  More

Theatricum Botanicum closes its 2014 All-Shakespeare Season with Equivocation

EquivocationAccording to the history books, the infamous Gunpowder Plot was a conspiracy by England’s marginalized Catholics to blow up Protestant King James I and his entire Parliament. Or was it? What if the official story concealed a darker truth? And what if King James had commanded William Shakespeare to write a play – a “true historie” – in order to further cement the government’s account? These are some of the questions asked in Equivocation, Bill Cain’s witty exploration of political power and artistic integrity.

Equivocation opens on Sept. 5 at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga directed by Mike Peebler and starring Ted Barton, Alan Blumenfeld, Dane Oliver, Franc Ross, Taylor Jackson Ross and Paul Turbiak. Equivocation is at once an explosive comedy of ideas and a high-stakes political thriller. More

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

Shakespeare on the Road Honors Theatricum Botanicum and You’re Invited

TB bday photoWill Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is throwing a free party to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday on Saturday, July 26 – and everyone is invited. The grounds open at 1:30 pm for merriment and refreshments, including jugglers, wandering musicians, madrigal singers, and complimentary birthday cake and beverages.

Special guests include Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare, as well as UK Deputy British Consul Barbara Greene; British Council West Coast director Simon Gammell, OBE; L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; and Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson and Dr. Paul Prescott of Shakespeare on the Road. More

Much Ado About Nothing Joins Theatricum’s Repertory Season July 12

Much Ado - Theatricum Botanicum

L-R: Robertson Dean, Susan Angelo, Jackie Kiikvee and Colin Simon. Photo credit: Ian Flanders

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum continues its celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday when Much Ado About Nothing joins the All-Shakespeare Summer Repertory Season on July 12.

In one of the most exuberant and spirited battles of the sexes ever written, Beatrice and Benedick’s verbal jousts are witty and sharp, each one calculated to wound. Yet, beneath their animosity lies a mutual attraction that neither dares confess – until circumstances unite them to rescue young friends and unmask their own true love. Soldiers returning from war, false accusations, a faked death, rampant eavesdropping or ‘noting’ (which is how the word “nothing” was pronounced in Shakespeare’s London) and two weddings provide for a rich plot of twists and turns.

Much Ado About Nothing is one of the great romance comedies,” says Ellen Geer, who co-directs with daughter Willow Geer. “The dark, the bliss, the confusion, the hurt and the love of it all… the damage that gossip and jealousy can do. Shakespeare had an extraordinary understanding of the business of being human.”  More

Review: A Formidable Ellen Geer Becomes LEAR at Theatricum Botanicum

Lear - Theatricum Botanicum

Melora Marshall and Ellen Geer. Photos by Ian Flanders

A frightening thing happens when a woman plays the title role in a gender-reversed King Lear; the betrayal and revenge between mother and sons takes on an added level of horror. What was already tragic to begin with, as originally written for a father and daughters, now feels even more threatening in the reverse.

Perhaps it is because the bond between mother and child pre-dates even birth making the treachery of flesh born of flesh feel like the ultimate violation of a sacrosanct relationship. When it is a son raising his hand against his mother the threat is magnified, especially when viewed through the lens of today’s modern society.  More

Theatricum Botanicum Announces Cast For All’s Well That Ends Well

TB ShakespeareWill Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum continues its celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday with a new production of All’s Well That Ends Well that joins the All-Shakespeare Repertory Season on June 21.

Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy is all about class differences, and Theatricum’s production brings it into the 21st century without changing a word.

The story of low-born Helena who heals the king and wins the right to marry the man she loves starts out on a high note. But when the man of her choice turns out to be a count above her station, he brutally and ruthlessly rejects her.

Co-directors Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones use a simple casting choice to challenge our modern perceptions of wealth, status and class: the aristocrats are all portrayed by actors of color, with Caucasian actors playing the commoners.

“This is a remarkable play that scholars and editors love to fuss about,” says Geer. “Helena is a great female role model who crosses class lines to follow her heart. I hope that our production will add another layer to the fascinating class and gender struggles here, heightening the humanity within the play and forcing us all to re-examine our values – all while we laugh and cry with the characters onstage.”  More

Casts Announced for Theatricum Botanicum’s LEAR and MIDSUMMER

Ellen Geer with Aaron Hendry (L) as Goneril and Christopher W. Jones (R) as Regan. Photo credit: Ian Flanders

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum kicks off its All-Shakespeare Summer Season in celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday with a gender-reversed Lear for the 21st century, opening on Saturday, June 7 at 8:00 pm, and the return of the company’s signature rendering of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with performances beginning Sunday, June 8 at 3:30 pm.

Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer takes on the title role in a new production that sees Lear divide her kingdom and test the loyalty of her three sons. Joining Geer onstage are longtime company members Aaron Hendry as Goneril, Christopher W. Jones as Regan and Dane Oliver as Cordelian. Alan Blumenfeld portrays the Earl of Gloucester, Abby Craden is Gloucester’s elder daughter, the bastard Igraine, and Willow Geer is her younger half-sister, Eden. More

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