TOPANGA, Calif. (April 27, 2016) — Director Ellen Geer re-sets William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in East Jerusalem, kicking off the 2016 summer repertory season at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum’s outdoor amphitheater on June 4.
With its one-of-a-kind outdoor setting in the heart of Topanga Canyon and its roots in the 1950s McCarthy-era Hollywood blacklist — when actor Will Geer created the theater as a haven for blacklisted actors — Theatricum is best known for its productions that frame contemporary social issues through the lens of classic literature.
“Romeo and Juliet has been retold many times before with a myriad of backdrops, proving each time that it continues to resonate regardless of time or place,” says Geer. “We place the story in a city currently divided by political and cultural strife. The lovers are able to see beyond the narrow scope of the world in which they live and find each other in spite of it all.”
Shaun Taylor-Corbett (2nd national tour, Jersey Boys) and Judy Durkin (Jean Fordham in last season’s August: Osage County) are Theatricum’s star-crossed lovers. Alan Blumenfeld stars as Capulet; Jonathan Bray is Prince Escalus (the “Prime Minister” in this production); Rav Val Denegro is Mercutio; Steven B. Green plays Friar Lawrence (renamed “Mufti Zaman”); Melora Marshall is Juliet’s nurse; Karen Reed is “Geveret” Capulet; and Taylor Jackson Ross plays Tybalt. Also featured in the cast are Kamran Abbassian, Kate Adams, Claire Andrew, Clayton Cook, Julia Finch, Steve Fisher, Kevin Hudnell, Nima Jafari, Israel Lopez, Celia Mandela, Victoria Yvonne Martinez, Kelvin Morales, Daniel Ramirez, Mark Samet, Gray Schierholt, Alexander Sheldon, Celina Lee Surniak and Lane Wray.
Original music and sound design are by Marshall McDaniel; costume design is by Beth Glasner; lighting design is by Zach Moore; and set design is by… Mother Nature!
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.”
Romeo and Juliet opens on Saturday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Oct. 2. Tickets range from $10-$38.50; children 4 and under are free. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or log onto www.theatricum.com. Visit Theatricum on facebook: www.facebook.com/theatricum.