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Ellen Geer as gender-reversed ‘Lear’ in Theatricum’s 2014 season

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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 on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 8 p.m., and the return of the company’s signature rendering of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with performances beginning Sunday, June 8 at 3:30 p.m. The two productions will continue to run in repertory through the end of September in the theater’s spectacular outdoor amphitheater nestled in a Topanga Canyon ravine, and will be joined later in the season by three additional mainstage offerings.

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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 Marshall as 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.

The afternoon following opening night of “Lear,” cast members Willow Geer and Melora Marshall will be back on stage for a matinee performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (which they also co-direct) — this time in the roles of Helena and Titania, respectively. Also returning to the cast of “Dream” are Samara Frame as Puck, Katherine Griffith as Bottom and Michael McFall as Oberon.

The beauty of Topanga’s countryside takes on a new dimension as fairies and mortals alike are beguiled by midsummer passions and puckish potions. In this signature Theatricum production, Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy pits mischievous sprites against heartsick humans for a magical night of revelry, chaos, love and comedy. Mediterranean buffet dinners, with a costumed cast of fairies in attendance, take place every Thursday in August at 6:30 p.m. in the theater's adjacent gardens, followed by an 8 p.m. performance (separate admission, or combo packages available).

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. “Lear” opens on Saturday, June 7 and continues through September 28. “A Midsummer Nights Dream” opens on Sunday, June 8 and continues through September 27. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.

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