News • June 06, 2022

Courtyard Shakespeare Festival returns to the stage at CBU

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Riverside, Calif. (June 6, 2022) — After two years of being silenced, the words of the Bard will be heard again at the Courtyard Shakespeare Festival at California Baptist University. This year the outdoor repertory production features “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Richard III.”

The shows run through June 18 in Smith Courtyard.

Frank Mihelich, director of “Much Ado” and adjunct professor at CBU, is excited for the festival’s return, which had been postponed due to the pandemic.

“I think that this festival is hugely important to the health of the arts culture of the Inland Empire,” he said. “A theater and arts community needs the theater that delves into and really embraces the classics. The classics are like Miracle-Gro for artists. If an actor can do the classics well, contemporary theatre is easy.”

The CBU version of “Much Ado” is set in the U.S. in 1945 after World War II. “Richard” is set in the near future, which is reflected in the musical score, costumes and less pomp and circumstance, but there is still swordplay.

Kendall Lloyd (’07), director of “Richard,” said the plays are different— “Richard” being dark and “Much Ado” being bright and fun—and he hopes audience-goers attend both.

“When you go to both shows you see the breadth of the work that Shakespeare brings to the theater,” Lloyd said. “Hopefully the festival serves as an introduction for our audience. And for those who are more seasoned in watching Shakespeare, hopefully it serves as nostalgic, where we can be together and take in this great work.”

Putting the festival on took a team effort. Dr. Josh Rodriguez, assistant professor of music theory and composition, composed original music for both shows. A choreographer helped the “Much Ado” cast learn swing dance. A swordplay instructor provided direction in “Richard.” The theatre department at CBU constructed the three-story Elizabethan stage in Smith Courtyard in four weeks and created the 110-seat theatre.

The casts are a mixture of CBU students, alumni and actors from the community, including a few from the Los Angeles area. Many are playing more than one role, either in the same play or in both.

Susanna Vaughan, an actor from Los Angeles, plays the mother in both plays.

“The last two years have shown me what a joy and privilege it is to enjoy an evening of theater together,” Vaughan said. “I think both of these plays have something to say about the power of words. Families and kingdoms can either be built up or torn down with words. However, while words are powerful, it's our actions that reveal the truth of our character.”

David Cox (’17, ’19), plays the second watchman in both plays. He said the festival brings together actors who love Shakespeare and love the experience of creating live entertainment.

“I hope the audience will be able to escape from the stress of their everyday lives and experience the stories of joy, tragedy and laughter that we have created on stage,” Cox said.

Caleb Leal (’19) plays Claudio in “Much Ado” and Richmond, as well as other characters, in “Richard.” He said he hoped the audience is entertained by “Much Ado,” but also sees the grace and redemption found in the play. Meanwhile, “Richard” shows a world fraught with strife.

“We see a world of people so convinced they are on the right side of history that they will do anything to prove it. There is a civil war, and, in that, only countryman blood is shed,” Leal said. “It is a story I hope a modern audience walks away from, desiring unity over division and the hope for a strong sense of community rather than conflict.” 

Courtyard Shakespeare Festival
“Much Ado About Nothing”
8 p.m. June 3, 5, 9, 11, 15 and 17 

“Richard III” 
8 p.m. June 4, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 18 

Where: Smith Courtyard, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92504
Tickets: $12 
Tickets or questions? Order online at or call the box office at 951-343-4319


Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504