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BWW Southern California Shakespeare Spotlight: What To See in 2014

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A Midsummer Night's Dream coming to The Broad

It's Shakespeare for the masses in 2014 as we celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth! In Southern California you'll find more productions and events than ever so mark your calendar now for a big year ahead.

L.A. Theatre Works kicks off its 2014 radio theatre series with The Comedy of Errors starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Hamish Linklater, and Emily Bergl. Ferguson and Linklater delighted audiences last summer as Shakespeare's Antipholus and Dromio twins in The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production in New York. See the hilarity in person January 30 - February 2 when The Comedy of Errors is performed and recorded at UCLA's James Bridges Theater for broadcast on public radio nationwide. http://latw.org

The Porters of Hellsgate begin their eighth season with Henry V, previewing on Valentine's Day at The Whitmore in North Hollywood. Artistic director, Charles Pasternak, will direct and play the title role, one he received rave reviews for last summer at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Leon Russom also returns to The Porters following up his role as Gloucester in King Lear with one of Shakespeare's most famous narrators of all. I can hear "O for a Muse of fire..." now. www.portersofhellsgate.com

And as a side note - it's nice to see that Shakespeare Santa Cruz is finding support. It was quite a blow when UC Santa Cruz abruptly terminated its 32-year partnership with the company, but thanks to the Arts Council Santa Cruz County, they are currently fundraising for their 2014 season. You'll find the latest updates, as well as some terrific photos of previous productions, including Pasternak in Henry V, at www.shakespeareplayon.net.

Something wicked this way comes on March 8th when A Noise Within ventures into the dark world of the Scottish play starring Elijah Alexander as Macbeth and Jules Willcox as Lady Macbeth. Both have appeared in previous ANW productions, Alexander in Don Juan and Willcox in last year's productions of Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Eurydice. For an in-depth, pre-show discussion of the play, make sure you attend the Wednesday, March 12 performance. www.anoisewithin.org

If you're in San Diego you can see Intrepid Shakespeare Company's Macbeth at the Clayton E Liggett Theatre on the campus of San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas. It previews on January 31 and officially opens February 2. Directed by Christy Yael-Cox, it will run through February 16. www.intrepidshakespeare.com

Also in San Diego, artistic director Barry Edelstein will make his Old Globe directorial debut with Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale opening February 8th. This marks the first indoor Shakespeare production at the Globe in over a decade. The Old Globe's outdoor Summer Shakespeare Festival will include Othello, also directed by Edelstein, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Mark Lamos. Rather than running in repertory, each production will feature distinct scenery and casts, each with its own separate run. This is a return to the Globe's outdoor theater's producing structure of 1988 to 2003, under then-artistic director Jack O'Brien, and promises to create an immersive experience for audiences. www.theoldglobe.org

Two well-known out-of-town troupes will make appearances in Southern California this spring. On March 15, Aquila Theatre Company presents Twelfth Night as part of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center's Wit & Wisdom Series in Long Beach. Aquila will also offer a free master class for students and the community on the CSULB Campus in the afternoon. Click Here for more information and to RSVP, as class size is limited.

And in Santa Monica, The Bristol Old Vic and Cape Town's Handspring Puppet Company [pictured above] reunite to present A Midsummer Night's Dream April 3 - 20 at The Broad Stage, directed by Tom Morris. This is the same team who brought War Horse to life so you can be sure that a unique kind of magic will fill the air in Shakespeare's tale of romance, mischief and transformation. http://thebroadstage.com

BritWeek Los Angeles takes place April 21 - May 4 with a special focus on Shakespeare in 2014. Founded in 2007 by Nigel Lythgoe and Bob Peirce, and now in its eighth year, BritWeek will celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare with an intimate evening of Shakespearean readings, sonnets and songs, performed by world class actors and singers, at the new Moss Theater in Santa Monica on April 25th. LA's own Hobart Elementary School, world-renowned for its Shakespeare drama program, will also stage a play during BritWeek. On May 3rd and 4th, BritWeek's second annual public festival on the Third Street Promenade will feature Shakespeare performances by both children and adults, as well as Shakespeare-inspired street art, music and dance. On May 4th, the Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble will perform A Midsummer Night's Dream in Grand Park as part of BritWeek's festivities. www.britweek.org

Over the summer, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum will celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with an All-Shakespeare season. In addition to their annual production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the company will present All's Well That End's Well, Much Ado About Nothing, and King Lear. Most exciting is the news that Ellen Gear will be back on stage starring in "a gender-reversed Lear for the 21st Century," in which Lear will have three sons and Gloucester will have two daughters.

In addition, Theatricum's production of All's Well That End's Well will add another layer to the fascinating class and gender struggles, one which challenges our modern perceptions of what wealth and status look like. The privileged class will be cast with African American actors, while white actors will play the "second class citizens". The company's hope is that it will heighten the humanity within the play and force audiences to re-examine their values, all while laughing and crying with the characters onstage. www.theatricum.com

Across town in Griffith Park, Independent Shakespeare Co. will see some improvements to its performance space by summer. Construction of the new permanent stage (phase one of the city's plan) is on schedule to be completed by the time the season opens on June 26, with the path lighting and additional updates to take place in 2015. This year's Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival will feature Richard III, Twelfth Night, and The Taming of the Shrew. David Melville will play Richard III in a production that focuses on Richard's relationship with the women in the play, while Luis Galindo and Melissa Chalsma, last seen as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, will play Petruchio and Kate.

The company will also be expanding its other summer offerings with more adjudicated pre-show performances by their Festival Arts Partners, additional Salon Series discussions, and Players in the Park workshops. Prior to the summer festival in Griffith Park, you can see their adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in the company's Atwater Village Studio, April 4 - May 3. www.iscla.org

Troubadour Theatre Company hasn't announced its upcoming season at the Falcon Theatre yet but they will be back at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts August 1 - 3 with OTHE.L.O. The show is a hysterical mash-up of Shakespeare's Othello and the music of Electric Light Orchestra done up Troubie style, which means it's full of laughs and age-appropriate for the whole family. www.lamiradatheatre.com

Summer Shakespeare offerings also include a new Midsummer Elizabethan Festival produced by Ophelia's Jump Productions and Pomona College featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor and Macbeth in repertory, while up in Thousand Oaks, Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will present Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night.

In the fall, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and The New American Theatre will present a bold new production of Othello directed by Rogue Machine artistic director John Perrin Flynn and starring Jack Stehlin (Creditors) as Iago, one of the greatest villains of all time. Shakespeare's classic tale of power, lust and jealousy will open October 11 and run through December 14. www.OdysseyTheatre.com

For more Southern California Shakespeare News follow @ShakespeareinLA on Twitter.

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Ellen Dostal In addition to being part of the west coast Broadway World team, Ellen also publishes two popular Southern California Theatre Blogs - Musicals in LA and Shakespeare in LA. An actress, singer and voiceover artist, she is also a producer with the Academy for New Musical Theatre, and works with the development of new musicals across the country.


 
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