Photo Flash: Theatricum Botanicum's LEAR, Opening Tonight

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 tonight, Saturday, June 7 at 8 p.m. in the theater's spectacular outdoor amphitheater in Topanga Canyon.

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. Shakespeare's sublime poetry infuses this towering tragedy, a tale of madness, tyranny, loyalty and love. 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." Also in the cast are Melora Marshallas the Fool, Liz Eldridge as the Duchess of Cornwall, Taylor Jackson Ross as the Duchess of Albany, Gerald C. Rivers as the Earl of Kent and Frank Weidner as Oswald. Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall co-direct.

Theatricum Botanicum has been named "One of the 50 Coolest Places in Los Angeles" by Buzz magazine, "One of Southern California's most beguiling theater experiences" by Sunset magazine, and "Best Theater in the Woods" by the LA Weekly. "The enchantment of a midsummer night at Theatricum Botanicum [makes it] crystal clear why audiences have been driving up into the hills since Theatricum's maiden season way back in 1973. Summer Shakespeare doesn't get any better than this," writes StageSceneLA. Says Los Angeles magazine, "The amphitheater feels like a Lilliputian Hollywood Bowl, with pre-show picnics and puffy seat cushions, yet we were close enough to see the stitching on the performers costumes. Grab a blanket and a bottle and head for the hills."

Lear opens on Saturday, June 7 and continues through Sept. 28. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. Scroll down for a complete schedule of performances. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or log onto www.theatricum.com

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