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We do shows.  Here are some of them.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

August 2019

An immersive Midsummer unlike any other, the Ensemble's show romped through the forests of Descanso Gardens, splitting the audience into parts, and including a choose-your-own druid side-quest. Directed by Brian Elerding and Genevieve Zander. 


Shakespeare's Sonnets

at Descanso Gardens

Feb 10th, 11th, 17th & 18th at 11am & 1pm

The Ensemble returns to Descanso Gardens for the two weekends around Valentine's Day (*hint, hint*) for Shakespeare's Sonnets! Two shows each day in a clearing in the middle of the camellia forest, accompanied by the incredible Tina Lenert on harp!

Directed by Ensemble favorite Brian White, and featuring some familiar EST faces along with some new friends.

Perfect for all ages, and free with entry to the gardens! (no tickets or reservations needed)


April-May, 2017

Lineage Performing Arts Center

"A sensitive exploration of theatre's transformative ability to heal, even under the most devastating of circumstances."

-Ellen Dostal, Broadway World

When tragedy strikes two old friends, they find an unlikely path to recovery through Shakespeare's King Lear.

Starring: David Blue, Fred Cross and Katie Peabody. Written and directed by Brian Elerding

Lear's Shadow is now a feature film! Click here for details


September 2017

The Lineage Performing Arts Center

Horatio stands at a bar and begins to speak directly to the audience. He is our narrator, and he is finally ready to tell his story to "the yet-unknowing world". We follow his journey as he watches his friend, Hamlet, deal with grief, madness, family, revenge, and sometimes even a battle with substance abuse.

Starring: Jay Blair, Michael Fitzpatrick, Danielle Rayne, Jeremy Roberts, Heather Schmidt, Gregory Ivan Smith, Brian White

Adapted by Brian White

Directed by Brian Elerding

Fight Choreography by Laura Napoli


April 1-9, 2017

Descanso Gardens

A charming, interactive show in Descanso Gardens' camellia forest, bringing Shakespeare's love sonnets to life, set in the round with live harp accompaniment. 

Starring: Benjamin Boucvalt, Deverau Chumrau, Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Megan Lee Pyle, and Eduardo Vona. Harpist: Tina Lenert.

Written and directed by Brian White. Produced by Brian Elerding and Fred Cross.


October, 2016

Descanso Gardens

Ensemble co-founders Fred Cross and Brian Elerding created a holiday performance that toured the gardens for several weekends in October, celebrating the spirit of Halloween.

Starring: Fred Cross, Brian Elerding, Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, John McCormick, Shahaub Roudbari, Katie Self, Ryan Self, and Michael Yavnieli. Written and directed by Brian Elerding and Fred Cross



February - March, 2016

Lineage Performing Arts Center

Shakespeare’s Rose Queen takes Margaret’s story out of the plays she’s in (Henry VI parts 1-3 and Richard III), and creates an entirely new Shakespeare play that focuses on the history from Margaret’s point of view. Margaret is thrust into a male-dominated world of royal backstabbing and strategy only to become the most powerful person in England through her cunning and charm. 

Cast: Jay Blair, Sonny Calvano, JR Davidson, Natalie Fryman, John McCormick, Katie Peabody, Megan Rippey, Daniel Rivera, Brian White

Adapted and directed by Brian Elerding

Shakespeare's Rose Queen is made possible in part by the City of Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.

Rose Queen Poster



October - November, 2015

Lineage Performing Arts Center

Some of Shakespeare's weirdest, darkest, and funniest pieces, all tied together by a strangely familiar devilish narrator.

Cast: Fred Cross, Natalie Fryman, Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Shahaub Roudbari, Dustin Stern-Garcia, Alex Weed

Big Bad Wolf 2015

May - Descanso Gardnes

Written by Jeremy Radin, directed by Brian Elerding and Jeremy Radin

CAST: Natalie Fryman, Dustin Stern-Garcia, Aaron Leddic, Anastasia Leddick, Jeremy Radin, Shahaub Roudbari, Ashley Thaxton

Shakespeare's LOVERS 2.0

Descanso Gardens commissioned a version of Shakespeare's Lovers that took place throughout the gardens on Valentine's Day, 2015. This edition of Lovers featured scenes from Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet.

Directed by Brian Elerding

Starring: Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Fred Cross, Natalie Fryman, Brandon Skelnar, Ashley Thaxton, Kathreen Khavari, Shahaub Roudbari

VILLAINS goes to Edinburgh Fringe!



The Ensemble took Shakespeare's Villains to the world's largest theater festival in Edinburgh Scotland and wowed audiences for two and a half weeks at The Space On The Mile. 


CAST: Fred Cross, Brian Elerding, Natalie Fryman, Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Jeremy Radin, Shahaub Roudbari, Samantha Sloyan



Written by Jeremy Radin

Directed by Brian Elerding

Descanso Gardens commissioned this original piece to be performed in various venues throughout the gardens. Writer/actor/company member Jeremy Radin created a world where all the wolves from our favorite fairy tales are all the same guy: Eugene. And he's actually a pretty decent guy.


Starring: Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Brian Elerding, Jeremy Radin, Luke Cook, Roddy Jessup, Kate Siegel

Shakespeare's VILLAINS

Shakespeare's VILLAINS premiered at the Lineage Performing Arts Center in Old Town Pasadena in October and November, 2013. 


Russ Bain, Fred Cross, Aaron Leddick, Neil Lewis, Jeremy Radin, Shahaub Roudbari, Rob Salerno, Samantha Sloyan, Morgan Thomas, Alex Weed, Samantha Whittaker

Adapted and Directed by: Brian Elerding


Shakespeare's LOVERS

Performed first at Descanso Gardens, then moved to Altadena's Farnsworth Park, SUMMER 2013.



"By turns poignant, moving, merry, and unafraid to try hysterically funny slapstick"



"An opportunity to share some laughs and delight in the works of a master." 




Starring: Aviva Baumann, Jess Borden, Fred Cross, Ashli Dowling, Brian Elerding, Roddy Jessup, Ursula Mills, Jeremy Radin, Shahaub Roudbari, Kate Siegel, Samantha Sloyan



Performed at Descanso Gardens' beautiful Under the Oaks outdoor amphitheater through the entire month of May 2013.
Starring: Brian Elerding, Dominik Krzanowski, Jeremy Radin, Shahaub Roudbari, Kate Siegel, Samantha Sloyan, Alex Weed, Rebecca Zahler
And a live, improvised instrumental accompaniment on the harp by: Tina Lenert



Performed at Descanso Gardens' historic Boddy House to sold-out houses in December 2012. 
Fred Cross, Brian Elerding, Jeremy Radin, Courtney Bell, Aaron Leddick, Anastasia Leddick, Becky Birdsall, Kurt Peterson, Brian Hennigan and introducing Ava Elliott as "Tiny Tim"
Christmas Carol Cast Photo California Shakespeare Ensemble


Performed at Descanso Gardens' beautiful Under The Oaks theater, Twelfth Night was the CSE's premiere public performance.  With only one reading, it was a very special and very exclusive event.  

Cast: Ken Baumann, David Blue, Fred Cross, Brian Elerding, Aviva Farber, Aaron Leddick, Shahaub Roudbari, Ellie Schwartz, Kate Siegel, James Sloyan, Samantha Sloyan, Elad Ziv 

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