Though the dog days of summer find some theatres closing up shop until fall, there are plenty of options for live stage happenings in Santa Monica and surrounding areas. Whether you pack a blanket and a picnic lunch and head up to the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, or opt for summer fun at the Santa Monica Playhouse, your live theatre experience does not have to stop just because school is out and the beach beckons.
Here are a few theatres and productions that will keep the summer stage scene sizzling for children and adults alike.
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This outdoor amphitheater has so much going on in the summer months that it’s hard to resist heading there for at least one live show. The beginnings of the Theatricum Botanicum can be traced to the early 1950s when Will Geer, a victim of the McCarthy-era blacklist, opened a theater for blacklisted actors and folk singers on his property in Topanga. Theatricum mounts five plays per summer on a rotating basis. By the end of the season, when all five plays are up and running, it is possible to see a performance of each in a single weekend. This season’s lineup includes Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, The Cherry Orchard, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Miser. The shows got under way in May and will continue through September. In addition to the five plays, Theatricum Botanicum offers a selection of dance and music performances throughout the summer.
The Family Fundays series offers interactive theater and music for kids every Sunday and on select Saturday mornings. The amphitheater is equipped with benches, but audience members often bring blankets for the chilly evening shows. Bring a pillow or two to soften up the seating. Located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. For a full schedule and information, call 310.455.3723.
Center Theatre Group
Summer finds Center Theatre Group slowing down slightly, but there are still a few great shows in their summer line-up. The Ahmanson will feature Monty Python’s Spamalot, arriving in July, and The Mark Taper Forum will continue its current run of Oleanna through July 12, The Ahmanson and The Mark Taper Forum are located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. Call 213.628.2772.
The Santa Monica Playhouse
It’s all about kids during the no-school months at Santa Monica Playhouse. The theatre offers summer camp programs for blossoming, young thespians, and a slew of summer matinees geared toward the youngster crowd. Every weekend, there are matinee performances of Cinderella and other shows for little ones. The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th St. Call 310.394.9779.
Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble
This theatre company is full of young actors who don’t believe in taking the summer off. In residence at the Powerhouse Theatre, the troupe is opening a new production this weekend, June 25. The show, Monkey Madness, is a new play written by Daisuke Tsujji, a former clown with Cirque du Soleil. It’s a mash-up of dance, clowning, music and puppetry perfect for the carefree, warmer months. The theatre is located at 3116 2nd St., Santa Monica. Call 310.396.3680.