Celebrity Sonnets

» Read a review of the 2018 Celebrity Sonnets program!


Jonathan McMurtry performs at the October 2014 Celebrity Sonnets at the Old Globe

Jonathan McMurtry performs at the October 2014 Celebrity Sonnets at the Old Globe


Celebrity Sonnet Presentations and Salute to Jonathan McMurtry.

Join us for this very special evening as many well-known San Diego, TV, movie, and stage professional colleagues honor one of San Diego’s Acting Legends for over 50 years.

  • Monday October 8 2018 at 7:30 PM
  • Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage
  • Old Globe Theatre
  • Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

Emcee and Welcoming Remarks by 
Darryl Woodson, President, San Diego Shakespeare Society

Celebrity Order of Presentation and Sonnet Numbers

  1. Richard Lederer – Original Sonnet for Alex Sandie: is the language columnist for the Union-Tribune and author of 50 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his new book, The Joy of Names. He is a founding co-host of “A Way With Words,” broadcast on KPBS.
  2. Peter Van Norden – Sonnet 29: was fortunate enough to spend two years playing ‘Ebeneezer Scrooge’ to Jonathan McMurtry’s ‘Charles Dickens’ in A CHRISTMAS CAROL and playing ‘Kent’ opposite his ‘Gloucester’ in KING LEAR at San Diego Rep. Most recently Peter appeared and performed as standby to Tom Hanks as ‘Falstaff’ in HENRY IV, Parts I and II for Shakespeare Center L.A.
  3. David Ellenstein – Sonnet 2 – has been Artistic Director of North Coast Repertory Theatre since 2003. He has worked as a director and actor with leading theatre companies across the country for more than four decades. He considers Jonathan McMurtry a mentor and dearest friend
  4. Tami Curtice – Sonnet 18: is a student of Jonathan’s
  5. Sam Woodhouse – Sonnet 55: Co-founded San Diego REP with D.W. Jacobs in 1976, and has since worked as a director, producer or actor on more than 260 productions.and Performed on the REP stages in The Seafarer, title role of King LearProof, Hamlet, and with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. He was awarded the Patté Shiley Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Alonzo award.
  6. Richard Baird – Sonnet 138: is an actor, director, and producer. Prior to co-founding New Fortune Theatre company Richard served as Associate Artistic Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company 2008-9.  Richard is the Founding Artistic Director of Poor Players Theater Company which produced over 20 productions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries’ work.
  7. Dann Florek – Sonnet 104: Veteran of television and movies, Dan is best known for his role as New York City Police Captain Donald Cragen on NBC’s Law & Order and its spinoff Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
  8. San Diego Youth Civic Ballet, Danika Pramick-Holdaway, Artistic Director – Sonnet 54: The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet is currently celebrating its 74th year, making it the longest running ballet school in San Diego.  SDCYB is located in beautiful Balboa Park, and performs four, full-length ballet productions each year in the historic Casa del Prado Theater.  The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s Performance Ensemble is composed of 15 of our most advanced dancers, who perform for diverse audiences and venues throughout Southern California.
  9. Marion Ross – Sonnet 106:  Best known for the TV series “Happy Days” (Mrs. Cunningham, Ron Howard’s mother) and Globe associate artist. Marion last appeared on the Old Globe stage eight years ago opposite her longtime companion, Paul Michael, in “The Last Romance,” a play written for the pair by Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro of “Memphis” fame.
  10. Robert Foxworth – Sonnet 117:  Robert has been acting for sixty years beginning in local theater in my home town of Houston, in regional theaters across America and on television (“Falcon Crest”, “Law and Order”) and in film for forty of those years. Robert was recently seen as Alonso in “The Tempest” this summer at the Old Globe.  Robert is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe.
  11. Charles Janasz – Sonnet 116:  has appeared on such series as “Bosch”, “Married”, “Bones”, “Frasier”, “Dharma & Greg”, and “Crossing Jordan”, but is best known for his extensive work in the American theater, classical and contemporary, Broadway, Off- Broadway, and at many of the country’s most prestigious regional theaters. He has been a long-term leading company member at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage, The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and is an Associate Artist of San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre. In a forty-year award-winning career, he has distinguished
  12. Karen Carpenter – Sonnet 78:  Her most recent stage work includes the new musical, Bulldozer: the Ballad of Robert Moses, off-Broadway, the New York Times critics’ pick Handle With Care, the premiere of Witnessed by the World at 59E59; regional productions of The Wizard of Oz at Surflight, The Vagina Monologues at Bucks County Playhouse, starring Andrea McArdle. Wendy Yondorf’s Admit One in a sold-out run at New Jersey Rep; Her favorite gig to date: directing Michael Keaton in Lauren Yee’s Countville for the Festival del Sole, Napa
  13. Darryl Woodson – Sonnet 130:  President, San Diego Shakespeare Society, 2017 Star award honoree, San Diego Performing Arts League, Actor and stage manager, National Tours for the New Shakespeare Company of San Francisco 1970-1973. Training Congress Scholarship, American Conservatory Theater San Francisco. Actor, American Conservatory Theater, Eureka Theater San Francisco, Colony Theater, Los Angeles. Darryl enjoys multitudinous rural studies and serendipity.
  14. Catalina Zelles – Sings Sonnet 18: Actor, singer, student; Catalina has appeared on stage in the last four celebrity sonnets and in numerous local theater productions. Accompanied on Guitar by Craig Zelles


Program Conclusion and Reception

General Public – $25 donation, $40 donation and reception
San Diego Shakespeare Society  members, Military, Students, seniors, $20 donation, $35 donation for program and food and beverage reception to meet Jonathan McMurtry. Additional guests not included in these categories donate General Public rate.

Tickets will be sold at the door. Please note we are unable to accept credit cards at the door. Cash or check please.

This is a fund raiser for the San Diego Shakespeare Society.


Review of the 2017 Celebrity Sonnets Program

Published September 23, 2017 | By Richard Lederer

William Shakespeare is alive and well and living robustly in America’s finest city. The San Diego Shakespeare Society, on whose board I sit, will soon be presenting its 16th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. On Monday, October 9, starting at 7:30 pm, local celebrities and performers will dramatize the sonnets to a vast audience through a montage of imaginative interpretations.

Onstage I’ll be joined by the likes of legendary actor Jonathan McMurtry, Kathi Diamant and Byron Ladue, 10-year-old starlet Catalina Zelles, mellifluous singers and three unique dance performances. KUSI’s Dave Scott will emcee. The venue is the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre, our city’s most venerable cultural institution.

Shakespeare wrote about the immortality that literature confers upon people born at the tip of a pen. His Sonnet 18 opens with a question to the speaker’s beloved and then an answer:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.                                                                      
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

The poet goes on to show that while all things living are subject to the mutability of nature and ravages of time, thy eternal summer shall not fade. The adored will slip the surly bonds of mortality:

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,                                                      
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

Here the “lines” refer to the sonnet itself, in which the darling can live forever in the hearts of generations of readers.

All Shakespearean sonnets close with a couplet, in this brief compass 20 monosyllables in succession:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,                                                              
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

“This” refers to the sonnet itself, which, through its enduring luminescence, confers an eternal summer on its subject.


This past Monday evening, on the Shiley stage at the Old Globe, a number of local celebrities performed in the 16th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. In addition to the imaginative interpretations that the performers sang, danced and acted, the evening honored the life and work of the distinguished oceanographer Walter Munk, who will reach 100 years of age this coming Wednesday. He lives in La Jolla with his wife Mary in a home called Seiche, a name that signifies a wave that sways back and forth. Walter and Mary have been long-time supporters of the San Diego Shakespeare Society, and Seiche is the setting wherein each year we celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

Dr. Munk was at the center of the Golden Age of exploration and research that transformed the Scripps Institute of Oceanography from a diminutive marine station into one of the world’s pre-eminent oceanographic entities. His deep-water expeditions uncovered a hitherto undiscovered world of life, a truly abysmal enterprise, and he was the first to show rigorously why one side of the moon always faces earth. In 2010, Walter Munk was awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences “for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earth’s dynamics.”

Recognizing Walter Munk’s colossal contributions to human understanding, I composed a sonnet for the special evening of Celebrity Sonnets. I work within the vessel of the classic rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean sonnet  abab cdcd efef gg but in the third quatrain of my poem, I employ a single rhyme and allude to Ariel’s song in Shakespeare’s comedy “The Tempest”: