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David Ellenstein (photo by Aaron Rumley) and Bill Kerlin (photo by Matt FitzGerald)

David Ellenstein and Bill Kerlin to Lead Laguna Playhouse

Ellenstein and Kerlin will also maintain their roles at North Coast Repertory Theatre.

LAGUNA BEACH and SOLANA BEACH, CALIF.: Laguna Playhouse and North Coast Repertory Theatre have announced that David Ellenstein will serve as artistic director at both theatres. North Coast Rep managing director Bill Kerlin will also serve in that capacity at both theatres.

“We are thrilled that David and Bill have decided to bring their talents to Laguna Beach and lead our theatre,” the Laguna Playhouse board said in a statement. “With their depth of experience and inspiring artistic vision, we are confident in their ability to take our Playhouse to new heights.”

“We are excited to expand our relationship with the Laguna Playhouse, a storied theatre in an adjacent market,” Marc Tayer, president of North Coast Rep’s board of directors, said in a statement. “David and Bill will bring proven artistic and operational excellence to the Laguna area, while continuing to delight theatre audiences in the San Diego area.”

Ellenstein has led North Coast Rep since 2003 and has worked on over 300 productions across five decades. He previously served as the artistic director of Los Angeles Repertory Company, as well as Arizona Jewish Theatre. Ellenstein has directed over 60 productions at North Coast Rep and has directed works at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Paper Mill Playhouse, and 59E59 Theaters, among others. As an actor, he has appeared onstage at Los Angeles Theatre Center, Arizona Theatre Company, and Moonlight Stage Productions, among others. He has served as guest faculty at multiple universities, including California State University, Northridge and California Institute of the Arts, and has acted in many film and television roles.

Kerlin, an Indiana native, brings over 30 years of experience in finance, marketing, and sales to Laguna Playhouse. He has been with North Coast Rep for 12 years and spent 16 seasons as director of administration at Coconut Grove Playhouse. He has also worked in insurance and retirement planning and has taught at Miami-Dade College. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and a Master’s degree from Florida International University, and previously served as a board member for the performing arts activism organization Camposition.

Founded in 1920, Laguna Playhouse brings performances to over 80,000 patrons each season. Their educational programming includes year-round classes, productions for and by children and teens, and the curriculum-based professional touring program TheatreReach. As of 2021, the theatre had a budget of approximately $6.2 million.

North Coast Repertory Theatre, currently celebrating its 41st season, stages award-winning productions from both established and emerging playwrights. North Coast Rep creates a platform where artists and audiences can thrive through the intimacy of live theatre. As of 2022, the theatre had a budget of approximately $3.7 million.

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ADV – Billboard