Theatricum Summer Season Kicks Off With HAMLET & MIDSUMMER 6/6

Theatricum Botanicum kicks off its 2010 Summer Repertory Season with two offerings from the Bard. Artistic director Ellen Geer directs Hamlet, opening on Saturday, June 5 at 8 pm. Melora Marshall directs Theatricum's one-of-a-kind, signature production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, opening on Sunday, June 6 at 3:30 pm. Both plays will run in repertory throughout the summer in the Theatricum's 299-seat outdoor amphitheater, carved into the Topanga Canyon hillside.

Following the death of his father, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his uncle now occupies the throne and the queen's bed. Spurred by the ghost of his father and surrounded by spies, Hamlet must avenge his father's murder.

Fans of Shakespeare's seminal revenge tragedy might want to think about seeing the Theatricum production twice: longtime company members Mike Peebler and Jeff Wiesen don't just alternate performances in the title role - each also plays Laertes to the other's Hamlet.

"Our actors are accustomed to playing multiple roles in numerous plays each season, and also to double casting - but with Hamlet we're trying something new," explains Geer. "It's been a wonderful rehearsal period. Mike and Jeff work together like a dream, watching each other and listening to each other's notes. They have set a wonderful tone for the whole company to emulate."

Willow Geer performs the role of Ophelia; Susan Angelo and Melora Marshall alternate as Gertrude; Aaron Hendry is Claudius; Carl Palmer is Polonius; Alan Blumenfeld is Marcellus and the Gravedigger; and Paul Turbiak is Fortinbras. Also in the cast are Ben Acland, Rachel Appelbaum, Jonathan Blandino, Christine Breihan, Zach Brown, James Gallo, Christopher Greenwood, Tim Halligan, Matt Harrison, Matt Little, Cj Merriman, Lisa Nathans, Nathan Dean Snyder, Stefan Tabencki, Daniel Tobin and Alec Tomkiw.

Following the opening on Saturday night, many Hamlet cast members head back to the canyon on Sunday afternoon to perform in Theatricum's award-winning, signature production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The most magical outdoor setting in Los Angeles will once again be transformed into an enchanted fairy forest inhabited by lovers both fairy and human - a world of wonder, magic and romance where comical misunderstandings and the pain of unrequited love are resolved, and all is reconciled through midsummer night revelries and the enduring power of nature.

"I can't think of any more fitting venue for staging Shakespeare's paean to love's labor's found than Topanga Canyon's rustic, outdoor Theatricum Botanicum," wrote the LA Weekly. "Actor-director Melora Marshall's brisk, boisterous production and her ensemble's commitment to revelry complement the canyon backdrop."

"The look of Marshall's production is breathtaking," agreed Daily Variety. "Directed with scintillating wit, every scene sets the pulse racing while still preserving a romantic flavor."

A Midsummer Night's Dream features Michael Keith Allen, Susan Angelo, Rachel Binder, Lewis Blanchard, Jonathan Blandino, Christine Breihan, Zach Brown, James Cowan, Samara Frame, Lucero Garcia, Willow Geer, Christopher Greenwood, Norman Igar, Jon-Barrett Ingels, Leslie Josette, Dave Mack, David Marmor, Melora Marshall, Kaja Martin, Michael McFall, Christopher Parker, CasSadie Petersen, Earnestine Phillips, Alice Sherman, Rachae Thomas, Paul Turbiak, and Jeena Yi.

Greek buffet "Dream Dinners," with a costumed cast of fairies in attendance, will take place every Thursday in August at 6:30 pm in the theater's adjacent gardens, followed by an 8 pm performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream (separate admission, or combo packages available).

Well known for its lovingly executed productions of Shakespeare, modern classics, and world premiere adaptations of classic plays and novels in a spectacular, outdoor setting, Theatricum's 2010 Summer Repertory Season of five plays will also include the world premiere adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' epic, swashbuckling The Three Musketeers; Terrence NcNally's Tony Award-winning Master Class; and - just added - Carry It On, a rip-roaring tribute to the heroes of American history told in their own voices. Unlike most theaters in the Los Angeles area that stage continuous runs of a single play, the Theatricum, using a company of actors, performs each play on a rotating basis so that it's possible to see all five plays in a single summer weekend. In addition, Theatricum offers a variety of satellite programming including a Thursday Night Salon Series featuring comedy improv, cabaret and poetry; a Summer Music Series that will include tributes to longtime Theatricum friend Woody Guthrie and to Dolly Parton; Family Fundays interactive plays and concerts for kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings; Botanicum Seedlings: A Development Series for Playwrights featuring free readings of new plays on select Sundays; and theme dinners in the idyllic Theatricum gardens, including Greek "Dream Dinners" on Thursday evenings in August and French "Musketeer Meals" on Fridays in September.

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For tickets and information, call (310) 455-3723 or visit online at www.theatricum.com.

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