Throughout 2021 I managed a digital theater collective called the Anti-Isolation Arts Factory. I founded the platform in January 2021 to give creative opportunities to out of work artists and connect audiences with performers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every month for 12 months we presented a curated collection of bold, original digital theater content to our members. Each Bundle was centered on a different theme, from “Saints + Sinners” to “Pride & Joy”.
In the end, we featured the work of over 60 artists. Our creative director, Marielle Rousseau, created beautiful Digital Programs to accompany our video collections. It was an honor to act as an artistic liaison for the Anti-Isolation Arts Factory, shepherding a fabulously diverse range of performative pieces, from dance to puppetry, from music videos to full length plays. More information about The Anti-Isolation Arts Factory can be found here.
During the Summer of 2021 I returned to California Shakespeare Theater to play Camillo and the Clown in “The Winter’s Tale” directed by Cal Shakes’ Artistic Director Eric Ting. The sold out, extended run was an absolute joy! A streaming version of the production was subsequently released over the Holidays. Click here for some video from the show.
I also traveled to Bennington, Vermont to act in the two-hander “Visiting Mr. Green” at Oldcastle Theatre Company, directed by Artistic Director Nathan Stith. It was an honor to work for both of these fine theater companies.
“Tambo & Bones” at Playwrights Horizons, “Octet” at Berkeley Rep … it’s been an extraordinary year! In the Winter, I had the immense good fortune to perform in the world premiere of Dave Harris’ play “Tambo & Bones” at Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway. Then I headed West for the out-of-town tryout of Dave Malloy’s musical “Octet” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I ended the year playing Lemml in Paula Vogel’s masterpiece “Indecent” at San Francisco Playhouse. I am so grateful to these incredible companies for being my artistic homes in 2022. On to the New Year!
I recently finished playing Ned Ryerson in the regional premiere of “Groundhog Day: The Musical” at San Francisco Playhouse. It was such a joy to perform in this spectacular show. 68 performances (!) later my heart is filled with gratitude towards the many talented folks, onstage an off, who made it possible. In addition to playing Ned, I also understudied the role of Phil Connors and got to perform it several times. Click here for some video from the show!
We were also honored by some special visitors during our run! Andy Karl, who originated the role of Phil Connors in the West End and Broadway productions of “Groundhog Day”, saw our production (the first one since his) with his brilliantly talented wife, Orfeh:
We were also humbled to welcome Danny Rubin to the show. Mr. Rubin wrote the screenplay for the movie “Groundhog Day” as well as the book for the musical. We owe it all to him!
Here’s what the critics had to say about my performance:
“Dean Linnard … is fantastic as Ned Ryerson, a supremely annoying high school classmate of Phil’s. His comic skills shine in act one, but it’s his gorgeous, resonant rendering of the bittersweet “Night Will Come” that is a highlight of the second half of the show.” Patrick Thomas, Talkin’ Broadway
“The most moving song in the play, “Night Will Come,” sung by the insurance agent Ned Ryerson (fast talking, magnetic Dean Linnard) affects us deeply.” Patrick L. Morin, Theatrius
“Dean Linnard, as Phil’s high school classmate Ned, gives even stillness the spring of a jack-in-the-box.” Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle
“Dean Linnard as Phil’s insurance-selling high school classmate Ned Ryerson gets the combination of goofiness and pathos exactly right.” Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema
“Dean Linnard screams dorkiness as the fast-talking dynamo insurance salesman Ned Ryerson … [and] delivers a poignant and well sung solo.” Victor Cordell, Berkshire Fine Arts
“To Phil’s evident sorrow, he … runs into an overly effervescent insurance salesman named Ned Ryerson (a rib-tickling Dean Linnard) …” Eddie Reynolds, Theatre Eddys
“[A]dding another layer to the story is a perfect move, such as with the songs “Playing Nancy” and “Night Will Come.” The latter in particular deserves its own shoutout; in the role of life insurance agent Ned Ryerson, Dean Linnard’s otherwise perky voice takes on a beautiful and haunting tone as he reminds the audience of its own mortality.” Lauren Sheehan-Clark, The Daily Californian
“Excellent supporting roles are delivered by Sophia Introna as Nancy (“Playing Nancy”) and Dean Linnard as the nerdy but kind Ned Ryerson” Steve Murray, Broadwayworld
“Sophia Introna and Dean Linnard as Nancy and Ned, respectively, vocalize with verve.” Leslie Katz, San Francisco Examiner
This year was full of glorious theatrical adventures! First, I returned to Left Edge Theatre to act in the two-hander “Sex with Strangers”. Then, I spent the Summer appearing in two plays at California Shakespeare Theater: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Tyne Rafaeli, and “The Good Person of Szechwan” directed by Cal Shakes’ Artistic Director Eric Ting. “Good Person …” was subsequently named by Bay Area News Group as one of the top plays of 2019, and was named by the San Francisco Chronicle as the #1 play of the year! I rounded out the year appearing in the regional premiere of “Groundhog Day: The Musical” at San Francisco Playhouse.
I feel tremendous gratitude to be making a living as an actor. My heartfelt thanks to all of my creative collaborators and artistic homes from 2019.
I was beyond honored this week to win a Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Performance in a Principle Role in a Play for my performance as Jason / Tyron in “Hand to God” at Left Edge Theatre. The entire award ceremony was a joyous and festive evening, and to be recognized for my work in Robert Askins’ brilliant play was icing on the cake.
Additionally, I was recently given an award from the Marquee Theater Journalists Association for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Comedy, also for “Hand to God”. Thank you to all who voted; I’m verklempt.
I’m beyond stoked to announce that next up I will be appearing in the regional premiere of “Groundhog Day: the Musical” at San Francisco Playhouse. The musical has a book by the original film’s screenwriter Danny Rubin and a score by the brilliant Tim Minchin. This will be the first production of the show since the original Broadway production. I will be playing Ned Ryerson (“Needlenose Ned! Ned the Head!”) and understudying the Bill Murray role of Phil Connors. This is gonna be an awesome one, y’all.
I’m truly humbled to announce that I was recently nominated for a Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Performance in a Principle Role in a Play for my work in “Hand to God” at Left Edge Theatre! Additionally our production was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Production of a Play. I’m so proud of the whole “Hand to God” team!
In other award news, my performance in “Hand to God” was also just nominated for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Comedy by the Marquee Theater Journalists Association. The association additionally nominated our production for 3 other awards! Our production of “Hand to God” as well as Left Edge Theatre’s production of “Sex with Strangers” (in which I also had the good fortune to appear) were both nominated for Outstanding Comedy Production. I’m honored by all of these nomination; what a joy!
Well folks, it’s been a glorious Summer. I just completed performing in two consecutive shows at the stupendous California Shakespeare Theater in the San Francisco Bay Area. First up was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Tyne Rafaeli:
“Dean Linnard as Lysander charms while looking like the lead for a disaffected ’90s garage band, and it’s too bad the part isn’t bigger for him.” Adam Brinklow, EDGE Media Network
“The verve with which Lysander (lithe Dean Linnard) loves Hermia … is palpable.” Michael V. Rodriguez, Theatrius
“[T]he brash energetic thrum of the production is infectious. The physicality of the lovers’ antics feels wonderfully feverish.” Karen D’Souza, The Mercury News
“The entire cast of 10, all playing multiple roles, seamlessly shifts from character to character and nimbly handles their dialogue. Their crisp articulation … make[s] the play’s language surprisingly easy to hear and follow … Jenny Nelson and Dean Linnard turn in particularly sly comic performances … Linnard perfectly calibrates gawkiness and sex appears in his main roles as young lover Lysander (sexy up; gawk muted) and play-actor Flute (full gawk; light, drag-enhanced sexiness).” Jim Gladstone, The Bay Area Reporter
“Dean Linnard’s wildly impassioned Lysander provides a sharp foil [to] his portrayal of a shy and seemingly introverted Flute.” George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape
Next up, I had the tremendous good fortune to act in Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan”, directed by Cal Shakes artistic director Eric Ting:
“[A] well-chosen cast … of various ethnicities play multiple clearly distinctive roles apiece, crisscrossing genders to great effect … In a sterling cast of a dozen, it’s unfair to single out anyone, but tall, skinny Dean Linnard as a policeman and Phil Wong as a rotund barber … are especially funny.” Jean Schiffman, San Francisco Examiner
“The talented Cal Shakes cast shows off its versatility in this production, with each performer taking on multiple roles within the hard-luck world of Szechwan … It is a rare and wonderful treat to witness a production in which each ensemble member could have had a one-person show … Dean Linnard’s policeman is hilarious in his overly clipped and abrupt way of speaking … [T]he audience is allowed strikingly easy access to Brecht’s often abstract and heavily intellectual language and beliefs. Cal Shakes’ all-star cast members demonstrate stunning mastery over the inner life of their characters.” Daryanna Lancet, The Daily Californian
“Ting has assembled a star-studded creative team. The cast includes Bay Area favorites playing multiple roles: … Dean Linnard is hilarious as the earnest but bumbling policeman.” Elaine Elinson, 48 Hills
“Eric Ting’s vision of Brecht’s 1943 play … is fully, lovingly thought through and impeccably realized … [T]his play and this production define how morality gets set … with uncommon clarity, with boundless compassion, with fearless artistry. It makes you want to make yourself and the world better, and believe that perhaps you can and know that you must.” Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle
I cannot express how lucky I feel to have spent the last few months at Cal Shakes working on these two plays. It has been an extraordinary experience for which I am profoundly grateful.