Kingsmen Festival opens with 'Much Ado'
Popular Bard comedy set in 19th century EnglandJune 8, 2012
John Allee is Dogberry and John Slade plays Verges in the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company production of "Much Ado About Nothing."
Photo: Brian Stethem
(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – June 8, 2012) The 16th annual Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will open the 2012 season with “Much Ado About Nothing” at California Lutheran University.
Directed by CLU alumnus Kevin P. Kern, performances will be presented at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 29 through July 15 in scenic Kingsmen Park. The festival grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for pre-show picnicking and entertainment.
One of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, “Much Ado” is filled with vibrant, witty characters, misinformation and romance. The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s production is set in early 19th century England just after the Napoleonic wars. The Georgian period provides lush costumes and a well-mannered, genteel society that’s a perfect foil for the smart and sharp-tongued Beatrice, played by veteran stage and screen actress Elyse Mirto.
Brent Ramirez, a 2012 alumnus of CLU who wowed audiences in the university’s spring production of “Jekyll and Hyde,” will play Claudio, a young soldier conflicted by his love for Beatrice’s cousin Hero.
Although “Much Ado” is a comedy, it also has dark undertones and a religious theme not common to Shakespeare’s comedies. It is this dichotomy that makes the play an audience favorite. The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company last presented the play, one of the most popular in the festival’s history, in 2002.
Former director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Apprentice Company and Summer Theatre Camp, Kern made his directorial debut with the festival in 2008 with a production of “As You Like It” set in the 1970s. A member of both Screen Actors Guild and Actor’s Equity Association, his credits include feature films, commercials and live theatre, including performances on the Kingsmen Shakespeare stage.
Kern has been an associate professor of theatre at the University of West Florida in Pensacola for seven years and will join the faculty of the University of Mount Union in Ohio this fall. He is artistic director of the Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre, a small professional company modeled on the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company.
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theatre company of CLU. In addition to producing one of the area’s most popular outdoor theatrical events, it provides apprentice programs, an educational tour program and summer theater camps for youth.
Individual tickets are $20; free for those under 18. Premium box seats are $90 and side box seats are $75. Box seats accommodate six adults. For information or advance lawn box reservations, call 805-493-3014 or visit kingsmenshakespeare.org. Individual tickets are available only at the door.