All Performances at the Beautifully Renovated Bruns Amphitheater

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Berkeley, CA – California Shakespeare Theater continues its 2012 season with Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, directed by A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director and Cal Shakes Associate Artist Mark Rucker, through September 2.

The production features A.C.T. core company member and 2011 Ten Chimneys Foundation Lunt-Fontanne Fellow René Augesen as Ruth Condomine. A.C.T. core member Anthony Fusco appears as her husband, the writer Charles Condomine; Mr. Fusco was last seen at Cal Shakes in 2011’s critically-acclaimed Candida. Other members of the company include Cal Shakes Associate Artist Domenique Lozano as Madame Arcati, A.C.T. MFA graduate Jessica Kitchens as Charles’ ghostly first wife, Elvira; Kevin Rolston (MTC’s A Steady Rain, A.C.T.’s Once in a Lifetime and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore) as Dr. Bradman; A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith (Berkeley Rep’s Continental Divide, A.C.T.’s Celebration) as Mrs. Bradman; and A.C.T. MFA student Rebekah Brockman as Edith. Ms. Augesen, Ms. Kitchens, Mr. Rolston, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Brockman are all making their Cal Shakes debuts with this production.

Successful novelist Charles Condomine wants to learn about the occult for an upcoming book and gets more than he bargained for when he arranges for a visiting “happy medium,” Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house. The eccentric Arcati inadvertently summons the ghost of Charles’s late first wife, Elvira. Elvira’s sudden reappearance creates mayhem between Charles and his second wife, Ruth, as Elvira makes continued and increasingly desperate efforts to disrupt their marriage. Personalities clash, Ruth is accidentally killed, “passes over”, and joins Elvira so the two “blithe spirits” may haunt the hapless Charles forever.

The design team responsible for creating the classic middle-class English country estate where the play takes place are set designer Annie Smart, whose previous designs for Cal Shakes include Candida, Man and Superman, and John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven, and numerous productions around the US and UK; costume designer Katherine Roth, who created the stylish fashions for Cal Shakes’ Private Lives, The Importance of Being Earnest and As You Like It, as well as the Broadway and touring productions of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly With me; lighting designer York Kennedy, whose lights have graced such Cal Shakes’ productions as Spunk, Candida, Uncle VanyaThe Pastures of Heaven, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession; and sound designer Will McCandless, creator of soundscapes for numerous Bay Area productions including Cal Shakes’ Candida.

Mark Rucker (Director, Associate Artist) is the Associate Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater. His Cal Shakes credits include Private Lives (2009), Twelfth Night (2008), Richard III (2007), and Romeo and Juliet (2001). Other Bay Area credits include The Beard of Avon by Amy Freed and The Rainmaker at A.C.T., Culture Clash’s The Birds at Berkeley Rep, and Luminescence Dating by Carey Perloff at Magic Theatre/A.C.T. Other theaters include Yale Rep (eight productions), La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Indiana Rep, Taper Too, Intiman Playhouse, Old Globe, Syracuse Stage, Asolo Rep, and Ford’s Theater. Mark is an Associate Artist at South Coast Repertory Theater, where he staged over 20 productions including world premieres by Richard Greenberg, John Glore, Culture Clash, Annie Weisman, and Christopher Shinn. His feature film debut Die Mommie Die! won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Mark is a graduate of UCLA and the Yale School of Drama.

Single tickets for Blithe Spirit range from $35 to $71, with discounts available for seniors, students, persons age 30 and under, and groups. Prices, dates, titles, and artists are subject to change. For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard, or American Express, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666. Additional information and online ticketing are available at

California Shakespeare Theater’s 2012 season is supported in part by the generosity of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation and The Shubert Foundation, Inc. Corporate partners supporting this production include BART, City National Bank, Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, McRoskey Mattress Company, Meyer Sound, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and San Francisco Magazine.



Founded in 1974, now under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone and Managing Director Susie Falk, Cal Shakes is an award-winning regional theater, acclaimed as “one of the most beautiful outdoor performing spaces in America” by the Wall Street Journal. The recently renovated, architecturally stunning grounds surrounding the classic Bruns Amphitheater, are nestled in the Siesta Valley of the East Bay Hills between Berkeley and Orinda on a protected watershed. The grounds open two hours before curtain for picnicking in the lush eucalyptus and oak groves; the on-site café in the new, environmentally-sustainable Sharon Simpson Center offers gourmet meals on-site, or patrons may bring their own to enjoy. The Theater offers free shuttle service from the Orinda BART station, beginning ninety minutes before the performance, and plentiful free parking onsite.  Picnicking audiences enjoy stunning works of California sculpture and can listen to enlightening pre-show talks by our resident dramaturgs before every performance. For more information on the entirety of Cal Shakes work on stage, in schools and in communities, go to us.

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