“The Season of Love”

[NoHo Arts District, CA] –   It’s “The Season of Love” this summer as the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company performs two of William Shakespeare’s most beloved plays—“Romeo and Juliet” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” The comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” kicks off the 27th Annual Shakespeare Festival with performances from June 21 to July 7; “Romeo and Juliet” follows from July 12 to 28. All performances are at 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday. 

This is the first time since 2012 that the nonprofit, professional theatre company of California Lutheran University has produced these two plays.

“After 12 years, the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is bringing back two of Shakespeare’s most famous and romance-laden plays. One will have you laughing, and the other will leave you in tears,” said Michael J. Arndt, artistic director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company and a founding member. “These timeless plays continue to delight audiences, even 400 years after they were first performed.” 

“Much Ado About Nothing” is a highly physical comedic production that follows Beatrice and Benedick as they battle each other and initially deny their love. The play features original music and is directed by Kevin P. Kern, a longtime Kingsmen Company member. 

Kern is a professor at Mount Union University in Ohio and the founder and artistic director of Shakespeare at the Castle in Alliance, Ohio. He has directed many Kingsmen Shakespeare productions, including “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 2019. Beatrice and Benedick are played by the married couple Jane and Brett Elliott, both longtime Kingsmen Company Members. (In fact, Brett proposed to Jane onstage during a 2006 Kingsmen production.)

The second production, “Romeo and Juliet,” is the classic tragedy of young love, showing the passionate relationship between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, members of two feuding families. The play explores themes of love, fate and the destructive consequences of hatred. It includes original dance scenes and action-filled sword fights. Director Elizabeth Swain is setting the play in a more traditional and classic manner. 

Swain is an accomplished Los Angeles- and New York-based actor and director. She previously directed the Kingsmen Shakespeare production “The Two Noble Kinsmen” in 2018. Dane Oliver, who plays Romeo, is a Los Angeles-based actor and fight choreographer. Los Angeles-based actress Alessandra Manon is Juliet; this is her first Kingsmen production. 

Kingsmen is contracted with the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the professional actors union. This year’s company includes eight AEA actors and two AEA stage managers. It also features acting apprentices recruited from advanced acting students from colleges and universities nationwide, acting interns from Cal Lutheran and local non-union actors.

All performances are at 8 p.m. on the Streeter Stage erected in Kingsmen Park on the Cal Lutheran campus, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. Grounds open at 5:30 p.m. with preshow entertainment at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are between $10 and $25 and can be purchased at bit.ly/Kingsmen2024. Refreshments are available for purchase at the event and picnic food can be pre-ordered. For more information, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org