Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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David Ellenstein named Artistic Director and Bill Kerlin named Managing Director of the Laguna Playhouse

Laguna Playhouse and its board of directors announced that North Coast Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director David Ellenstein and Managing Director Bill Kerlin, have been named Laguna Playhouse’s new Artistic and Managing Directors respectively, effective immediately. They will continue as Artistic and Managing Directors of North Coast Repertory Theatre as well.

The Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors commented, “The Board of Directors are thrilled that David and Bill have decided to bring their talents to Laguna Beach and lead our theater. With their depth of experience and inspiring artistic vision, we are confident in their ability to take our Playhouse to new heights.”

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

David Ellenstein David

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Photos courtesy of Laguna Playhouse

David Ellenstein

Born into a theatrical family, Ellenstein has worked in theaters across the country. Since 2003, he has been the Artistic Director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, Calif. He is the former Artistic Director of Los Angeles Repertory Company and Arizona Jewish Theatre. A veteran of more than 300 theatrical productions, he has worked at theaters across the country for nearly five decades, including Coconut Grove Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Alabama, Great Lakes, and California Shakespeare Festivals, Portland Stage, 59E59, The Meadowbrook Theatre, Colony Theatre and Laguna Playhouse.

Among the more than 60 productions that Ellenstein has directed at North Coast Rep, favorites include The Remarkable Mister Holmes, which he co-authored, An Iliad, Dr. Glas (Streaming), Becoming Cuba (World Premiere), The Father (West Coast Premiere), Travels with My Aunt, Words by Ira Gershwin (World Premiere), Freud’s Last Session, Becoming Dr. Ruth and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

At other venues memorable productions include The Glass Menagerie (Alabama Shakespeare), A Shayna Maidel (Gaslamp Quarter Theatre), The Chosen (Papermill Playhouse, The Coconut Grove Playhouse), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Renaissance Theatre), Conversations with My Father (Portland Repertory Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac (Southwest Theatre Company), Chapatti and Alexandros (Laguna Playhouse).

Favorite roles as an actor include Andrey Botvinnik in A Walk in the Woods, Max Prince in Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Matt in Talley’s Folly at North Coast Rep. Ellenstein has appeared in more than two dozen roles in film and television, and has been guest faculty for several universities including California State Northridge and Cal Arts.

David Ellenstein Kerlin

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Bill Kerlin

Originally from Valparaiso, Ind., Kerlin brings more than 30 years of finance, marketing and sales experience to the Laguna Playhouse, including 12 years as Managing Director for North Coast Repertory Theatre and 16 seasons as the Director of Administration at the legendary Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami. During the time that Kerlin served at Coconut Grove, it was the largest professional not-for-profit producing theatre in the State of Florida.

Kerlin graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Miami in 1984. While he completed his Master of Science from Florida International University, he concurrently taught classes at Miami-Dade College. He was also the Chief Financial Officer for Professionals’ Retirement Strategy, a national insurance and retirement planning service firm in Irvine. He has also served as a board member for Camposition, a performing arts company whose mission was to push the boundary between contemporary performance and activism through live performance, interactive outreach programs and professional development trainings.

North Coast Repertory Theatre, under the artistic leadership of Ellenstein since 2003, is a professional equity theater currently celebrating its 41st season. North Coast Rep has received critical acclaim from media and audiences alike and has evolved into one of the area’s leading performing arts organizations.

North Coast Rep prides itself on employing the majority of its actors from Actors’ Equity Association for its high quality, award-winning productions, and staging works by established and emerging playwrights. Throughout its history, North Coast Rep has created a platform where artist and audience thrive through the intimacy of live theater, recognizing the power of theater to challenge complacency, revitalize the imagination, nurture the unexpected, and embrace the variety and diversity in our lives.

For more information on North Coast Rep, go to


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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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