San Diego theater North County
A 2022 production of “The Spitfire Grill” at the Laguna Playhouse. Photo credit: @thelagunaplayhouse via Facebook

North Coast Repertory Theatre is expanding its reach to Orange County.

The Laguna Playhouse and its board of directors has announced that two executives at the Solana Beach theater, Artistic Director David Ellenstein and Managing Director Bill Kerlin will immediately take over the same roles at the Laguna Beach theater.

Ellenstein already had served as interim artistic director of the playhouse, a stint that began in October.

Marc Tayer, president of North Coast Rep’s board, said, “We are excited to expand our relationship with the Laguna Playhouse, a storied theatre 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.”

A statement credited to the entire Laguna Playhouse board, noted Ellenstein’s and Kerlin’s “depth of experience and inspiring artistic vision” as reasons “we are confident in their ability to take our Playhouse to new heights.”

Born into a theatrical family, Ellenstein worked in theaters across the country before becoming North Coast Rep’s artistic director in 2003. The veteran of more than 300 theatrical productions also held the same post at the Los Angeles Repertory Company and Arizona Jewish Theatre.

Among the more than 60 productions that David has directed at North Coast Rep, favorites include The Remarkable Mister Holmes, which he co-authored, An IliadDr. GlasBecoming CubaThe Father and Travels with My Aunt.

Originally from Valparaiso, Ind., Kerlin will bring more than 30 years of finance, marketing and sales experience to the Laguna Playhouse. That includes 12 years as managing director for North Coast Rep and 16 seasons as director of administration at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami. During Kerlin’s time at Coconut Grove, it was the largest professional not-for-profit producing theatre in Florida.

Founded in 1920, the Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously operating, not-for-profit theaters on the West Coast. The playhouse serves more than 80,000 patrons each season.