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Medieval Times: Dinner and Tournament

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Historians partition the medieval period into categories such as the “Six Ages” or the “Four Empires.” The medieval epoch – also known as the Middle Ages – is generally thought to have lasted from 476 to 1500 A.D.

Jousting is a martial competition wherein two horseman, armed with lances, gallop toward one another at increasing speed; it was a tournament event of the High Middle Ages (1000-1300A.D.), used to demonstrate the skills of cavalrymen.  The object of the action is to clobber or stab the opponent, breaking the lance against his shield or armor, and unhorsing him.


Medieval Times: Dinner & Tournament – in various locales around the continent and, locally, in Buena Park – offers spectacle, athleticism, and a historic perspective of the Middle Ages; what’s more, dinner is included. Not only do audiences get to witness hair-raising jousting competitions between color-coded knights, we also see sterling fencing bouts, battle-axe encounters, and deadly bola showdowns (a bola is a weighted spiked ball on a stick and chain, swung as a weapon in close-quarter combat between knights), as well the performance of a “Royal Falconer” doing amazing feats with a magnificent bird of prey.


This all takes place in a deceptively large arena and is graced with the equestrian eloquence of purebred Andalusian horses born and bred by the Medieval Times chain of operations. Performed by a cast of 75 actors and 20 horses, the show is filled with pageantry and pain, suppleness and suspense, glory and mock gore. Further, the costuming (for players both horse and human) is period appropriate and wholly enchanting (neither the actors or designers are credited in the program; it’s a team effort, entirely).

While the seating is stadium-like, the views in this humongous circular venue are extraordinary from every position. With table service, alcohol availability, and prerecorded musical enhancements, Medieval Times is a show for all ages and a multitude of occasions. Endearingly colored paper crowns are given to patrons to wear in allegiance to their colored knights, while announcements of birthday celebrations, anniversaries, and the like are made early on in the proceedings.

Like professional wrestling, the disputes have predetermined outcomes, and the conflict between the knights and their factions is largely drummed up by hyperbole. Nevertheless, the horsemanship skills on view and the beauty and grace of the horses themselves are real and actual. To see horses do dressag as well as rhythmic dance leaps is truly remarkable.

Medieval Times: Dinner & Tournament performs nightly. The event lasts for nearly two hours; times and prices vary. For reservations, call 1-888-WE-JOUST (935-6878). For online ticketing and further details, visit



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.