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William Shakespeare Inspires ‘The Season of Love’

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will perform "Romeo and Juliet" and "Much Ado About Nothing" in June and July.

Kevin P. Kern will direct the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival’s production of Much Ado About Nothing from June 21 through July 7, 2024, at California Lutheran University. (Courtesy photo)

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 through July 7; Romeo and Juliet follows from July 12 through 28. All performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays at California Lutheran University.

“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 and founding member of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, Cal Lutheran’s nonprofit, professional theatre company. “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 member.

Kern is a professor at the University of Mount Union in Ohio and the founder and artistic director of Shakespeare at the Castle in Alliance, Ohio. He has directed many Kingsmen 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 members. In fact, Brett proposed to Jane onstage during a 2006 production.

Elizabeth Swain will direct the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival’s second production, Romeo and Juliet, from July 12 through July 28, 2024, at California Lutheran University. (Courtesy photo)

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 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 nonunion 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. General admission tickets are between $15 and $25 and can be purchased at Refreshments are available for purchase at the event, and picnic food can be pre-ordered. For more information, visit