Gettin' Elly wit it

Veteran actor Mitch Agruss and actor, director and impresario Ray Tatar were honored by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Adult Elly Awards ceremony on Sunday, September 21.

Tatar has appeared as an actor in many local shows, usually speaking in English, but sometimes doing Moliere in French. Tatar also worked for the California Arts Council for 27 years. Perhaps his biggest project is establishing the thriving R25 Arts Complex, which has three venues used by smaller local companies, including Tatar’s own California Stage group.

Agruss, who is in his 90s, began acting seven decades ago. He worked in New York, appearing in Broadway and off-Broadway shows, touring Shakespeare companies and live television dramas—alongside the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Thornton Wilder, Bert Lahr and other now-departed luminaries. Agruss came to Sacramento in the 1960s to raise a family and take a long-running job hosting children’s programs (many locals of a certain age might fondly recall Agruss as Cap’n Mitch). After retiring from television in the late 1980s, Agruss returned to the stage, appearing in productions of Samuel Beckett classics, and also in B Street Theatre comedies.

Speaking of Ellys and Shakespeare, veteran actor and director Ed Claudio—himself a Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the 2012 Ellys—is hosting an eight-week seminar on reading, understanding and enjoying Shakespeare. He’s probably staged more Shakespeare scripts than any other director working locally, and his Sunday seminar series runs October 19 through December 7 at the Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th Street (in the R25 Arts Complex).

Claudio trained in New York under legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in the 1970s. He is also a longtime associate of the B Street Theatre, and the producing director of The Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento (which has staged numerous Shakespeare scripts over its 25-year history).

Claudio will be focusing on Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, King Lear, Twelfth Night and The Tempest—a very representative mix. Several professional actors will read and illuminate passages.

The eight-week series costs $250. The seminar will meet on Sundays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call (916) 501-6104, visit www.actin or email for reservations and more information.