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Shakespeare is Bustin' Out All Over

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Every summer, the Southland is studded with productions of the Bard’s 37 plays. They can be seen from Griffith Park’s Independent Theatre Company to Shakespeare by the Sea’s tour from Pasadena, down to Mission Viejo and from Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon to the Shakespeare Festival in Santa Clarita. I guarantee you, you will have a great time watching some great performances, from seasoned veterans to budding artists. In my book, this summer you will not find a better, more intelligent production than Shakespeare By The Sea’s The Winter’s Tale.

Wisely, director Stephanie Coltrin recasts this difficult-to-produce play as a set of interconnected one-acts, with no attempt to bridge the gap between tragedy and romance that mark the two parts. Act One finds Leontes (Patrick Vest) suddenly consumed with jealousy over the friendship of his pregnant wife, Hermione (Leah Dalrymple), and his best friend, the Bohemian Polixenes (B.J. Allman). He orders her to prison, then rejects his child when she is born. Almost immediately, however, he feels remorse for his actions, and vows to spend the rest of his life in penance.

Act Two, by contrast, introduces the now grown daughter, Perdita (Allie Pratt), who was saved by faithful Paulina (Bridgid M. Rose) and whisked away to be raised in Bohemia by a lowly shepherd (Tom Killam) and his son (Jonathan Fisher). Polixenes’ son Florizel (Jonathan Cates) falls in love with Perdita at the Behemian fair, but his father tries to separate the star-crossed lovers. Thank heavens she is of high birth! Otherwise the match, which ultimately prevails, would never have been sanctioned by Elizabethan audiences.

Aaron Jackson’s portable series of platforms festooned with floral cut-outs fit perfectly into Point Formin Park’s bandshell and allows the director to keep the action moving nimbly. Jeffrey Shoenberg’s wonderful costumes move the play from medieval times to the late 19th century, while the atmospheric, magical music reminiscent of the Harry Potter theme (and designed by Cintha Nava-Palmer) prepares us to see the play as the fairy tale it is.

For one more week, amble down to the magnificent Point Fermin Park; come early and partake of their boxed dinner (call ahead for sandwich choices), and sit back on a blanket or on the band shell benches and watch the play unfold. Or look online for Shakespeare by the Sea to appear in a city park near you.

The Winter’s Tale, with The Merry Wives of Windsor, alternates in parks throughout the South Bay and Pasadena this summer. Entrance is free. Consult the website:  for performances in your area.  Or call (310) 217-7596 for more information.



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.