Press Release – 2016 – The Elephant Man 2017-07-14T06:28:52+00:00


Small Vibrant Theatre Companies Join Forces to Tackle the Colossal Classic…

Media Contact: Executive Director Jessica John

Press Opening is Friday, April 8th, 2016. Show runs through April 24th, 2016. 

San Diego, CA – March 08, 2016 – Opening this April, Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company and Oceanside Theatre Company will join forces to tackle Bernard Pomerance’s THE ELEPHANT MAN.  Theatre-goers are invited to a passionate new production of the classic, which runs April 8th through April 24th.  Performances will be held at Oceanside Theatre’s resident space, The Brooks Theatre located at 217 North Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA, 92054.

Written by Bernard Pomerance, The Elephant Man follows the true story of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century.  Horribly deformed and victim of rare skin and bone diseases, Merrick became the star freak attraction in traveling side shows until he was discovered and admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel hospital under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves.  The theatrical depiction of the evolving relationship between the two men and the London society they met through the course of their brief relationship has established itself as one of the most impactful stage plays of all time, garnering a Tony Award for Best Play in 1979 and performed in countless productions across the world.  Most recently, the 2015 Broadway production of THE ELEPHANT MAN starring Bradley Cooper received Tony nominations for Best Performance by a Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Featured Actor and Best Revival, and won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

The coproduction is a dream project for both companies.  Oceanside Theatre artistic director Christopher Williams and Backyard Renaissance Theatre’s artistic director Francis Gercke and executive director Jessica John have been friends for over 9 years and have collaborated artistically on a variety of projects.  John and Williams starred opposite one another in both A SHANA MAIDEL and UNNECESSARY FARCE, at North Coast Repertory Theatre and Williams directed Gercke in both JULIUS CEASAR at New Village Arts Theatre and in I HATE HAMLET at Intrepid Theatre Company.  This will be the first coproduction for both theatre companies.  Williams and Gercke will helm the production as co-directors in which Gercke will also star as John Merrick.

Explaining his attraction to the piece, Gercke stated, “I think that most of us are drawn to stories about underdogs overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.  I don’t think that there’s a more inspirational, more moving story than that of John Merrick.  I was 10 when I first became aware of him.  I was blown away and couldn’t believe it was true.  Maybe I didn’t want to believe it was true. I still feel that way.”

“It’s rare to have the opportunity to work on a piece that so explores the depth of what it is to be ‘human,’” stated Williams. “A true beauty within the beast story written with such eloquence and powerful characters living and fighting against the time and customs they are tied to.”

THE ELEPHANT MAN runs April 8th through April 24th with performances offered Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

For more information regarding Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, Oceanside Theatre Company or to purchase tickets, please visit or   Tickets can also be purchased in person on the day of the show (if available) beginning 1 hour before show time.

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WHAT: Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company and Oceanside Theatre Company present THE ELEPHANT MAN

WHERE: The Brooks Theatre – in Oceanside –  217 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054


Written by:  Bernard Pomerance

Director: Christopher Williams and Francis Gercke


Francis Gercke, Nick Cagle, Andrew Oswald, Jessica John, Patrick McBride, Brian Salmon,
Dagmar Fields, Celeste Innocenti, Brian Butler

DATES:   April 8th – April 24th, 2016


Fridays – Saturdays @ 7:30pm;

Sundays @ 2pm

PRICES:  Range from $14-$21

(Discounts are available for artists, seniors, students, active-duty military and groups)


Online: or

In Person: call – 760-433-8900

Day of Show @ The Brooks Theatre – 217 North Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA, 92054


About Oceanside Theatre Company

The Oceanside Theatre Company’s mission is to create professional quality theatre for a vibrant and diverse population. OTC will strive to reach a wide audience base and encourage and improve artistic growth in the community by producing a broad repertoire of theatre, giving local theatre artists creative opportunities and offering educational theatre and outreach programs.. For more information go to:

About Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company

Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company is a 501C3 organization with an “art to the gut” sensibility. Founded in 2015 in San Diego, Calif., Backyard Renaissance believes that exceptional storytelling is rooted in a sense of joyful play, human connection and gutsy intensity. For more information go to:




Christopher has been the Artistic Director of Oceanside Theatre Company since its creation in 2011. Other theaters he has directed for include North Coast Rep, Southwest Shakespeare Company, New Village Arts, Intrepid Theatre, and Scottsdale Theatre. As an actor, Chris recently starred as Nathan Rothschild in the new Off-Broadway musical, Rothschild & Sons, opposite Robert Cuccioli. He has also appeared onstage with Arizona Theatre Company, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Actor’s Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare and AZ Jewish Theatre. He served as a theatre and film instructor for MiraCosta College, Scottsdale College, Glendale College, and the Southwest Shakespeare Conservatory for many years. Along with stage managing, fight directing, writing and graphic designing, Chris is a producer of the recent WWII feature, Walking with the Enemy, starring Jonas Armstrong and Sir Ben Kingsley.


A graduate of The Actors Studio Drama School at the New School for Social Research, Fran Gercke is an award winning actor and director, as well as an instructor in San Diego at the college level and privately for the past 15 years.  In 2001, Gercke co-founded New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad and served as the artistic director until 2008. From July 2008 through August 2010, he worked with Cygnet Theatre as the associate artistic director. He is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and has worked professionally in San Diego with such companies as the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Cygnet Theatre, Lambs Players Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre, ion theatre, Moonlight Stage Productions, New Village Arts Theatre, and Sledgehammer Theatre.

About Nick Cagle (PLAYING Frederic Treves)

Nick is the voice of Double D in the Massively Multiplayer Online video game H1Z1. Film/TV credits include: HBO’s UNSCRIPTED directed by George Clooney and THE PRICE SHE PAID on CBS. Regional Theater Credits: Uncanny Valley (San Diego REP); The Exit Interview (San Diego REP);  Peer Gynt (La Jolla Playhouse); Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara (The Geffen Playhouse) directed by Taylor Hackford; Miss Nelson’s Missing (Main Street Theater Company); The Three Musketeers (Sierra Repertory Theater); Hamlet (The Curtis Theater); Godspell (The Orange County Performing Arts Center); The Nerd (Laguna Playhouse); A Wonderful Life (Laguna Playhouse). Other Los Angeles Credits: King Lear (The Antaeus Company); Chekhov X4 (The Antaeus Company); A Splintered Soul (The Odyssey Theater) and The Misanthrope (ANDAK theater company). Nick trained at The Boston Conservatory, is a graduate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and a member of Actors Equity Association.


In 2001, Jessica co-founded Backyard Productions in San Diego and served as the executive artistic director until 2008. As an actor, she is an associate artist of Cygnet Theatre and has worked professionally in San Diego with such companies as the North Coast Repertory Theatre, ion theatre, Moonlight Stage Productions, New Village Arts Theatre, New Fortune Theatre Company,  Moxie Theatre, Oceanside Theatre Company, Diversionary Theatre and Renaissance Theatre. Honors include: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (SD Playbill – Best Actress), Burn This (SD Critic’s Circle – Best Actress); New Village Arts: The Playboy of the Western World (Patte – Best Actress); and Renaissance Theatre: A View from the Bridge (SD Critic’s Circle – Best Actress). She was named one of the “Top 50 People to Watch” by San Diego Magazine.

About Andrew Oswald (PLAYING Carr Gomm)

Andrew is an actor and director who has worked locally, regionally, and in New York. He is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Local Credits include Charlie in The Whale and Harry in Company (Cygnet Theatre) and Hank Hadley in Regrets Only, Boys and Girls, and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler  (Diversionary Theatre). Regional Credits include Orsino in Twelfth Night (Orlando Shakespeare Festival), Bottom and Malvolio (New Hampshire Shakespeare Festival), and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (Lincoln Amphitheatre). In New York he has worked at Soho Rep, Tribeca Theatre Lab, Nada, and New York City Opera. He was Co-Artistic Director of Bedtime Sketch Comedy for two years and he directed last year’s production of Baby with the Bathwater at the Diversionary Theatre. He is also an acting teacher at Infinity Dance and Performing Arts.

About Brian Salmon (PLAYING Ross)

Brian has appeared on a number of local stages over the centuries, including The Old Globe, San Diego Rep, Moonlight Amphitheatre and most recently at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Fox on the Fairway. He received the Critics Circle Award for his portrayal of Lenny in Rumors at North Coast Rep and the Dramalogue Award for playing Rance in What the Butler Saw at the Blackfriars Theatre. 

About Patrick McBride (PLAYING Bishop How)

Patrick has enjoyed acting, directing, and teaching for over 25 years. Favorite acting roles include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing , Laurence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, James Joyce in Travesties, Jack in The Boys Next Door, and Bob Cratchit(and many others) in A Christmas Carol. Favorite directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Moon Over Buffalo, Twelfth Night, as well as the La Jolla Playhouse POP tours of The Flimflam Man and Alice’s Wild Ride. He teaches Performing Arts at the Urban Discovery Academy and is a founding member of Luminary Arts.

About Dagmar Fields (PLAYING Nurse Sandwich and others)

Dagmar Krause Fields is absolutely delighted to work with the Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company for the first time.   Most recently she appeared in New Village Arts Theater’s production of Emelie, and before that in Lion in Winter (Moonlight Stage Productions), Unnecessary Farce (Northcoast Rep), Regrets Only (Diversionary), I Hate Hamlet (Intrepid Shakespeare), Lost in Yonkers (Oceanside Theatre Co), and Blithe Spirit (Moonlight Stage Productions). Other productions include Leading Ladies, Anything Goes, The Mousetrap, Crazy for You, Barefoot in the Park, The Foreigner, Magic Fire, Hay Fever, and Radio Gals (Moonlight); Morning’s at Seven, Amy’s View (Northcoast Rep) Into the Woods (Lambs Players), American Dream (Renaissance Productions), and Night Must Fall, Hamlet, and Home (Octad One); among others..

About Celeste Innocenti (PLAYING Pinhead and others)

Celeste Innocenti is thrilled to be working with Backyard Renaissance and this great cast.  Celeste has performed on stages all over San Diego, and is the Artistic Director of Chronos Theatre Group, a non-profit theater which connects diverse audiences with works from world cultures and time periods. With Chronos, she recently produced and co-directed (with Rhys Green) The Balcony by Jean Genet, translated by Jean-Claude van Itallie, and performed the role of Madame Irma.  In October, Chronos will present the “tragic farce” Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Nobel Prize-winning Italian author Dario Fo, in which she will play the role of the Journalist.  You can find more about Celeste (and Chronos) on the websites and

About Brian Butler (PLAYING Snork and others)

Brian is thrilled to join the talented cast and crew of The Elephant Man. Previous work includes: The Aliens (Ion Theatre); Return to the Forbidden PlanetStage KissThe Nutcracker (New Village Arts); Titus AndronicusHay FeverPeter Pan and Wendy (SDSU); Blithe Spirit, Hamlet (Grossmont College). Directed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at SDSU and two short films for Rosewood Five Studios. San Diego Film Awards Nominee for Best Supporting Actor. Attended BADA’s Midsummer in Oxford Program at Magdalen College. Featured in upcoming feature films: South of 8Thane of East County, and Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8. Brian would like to thank his friends and family for all their love and support.