Bio

Rhonda Kohl (Director/Choreographer/Teacher/Out-of-Control Visionary)

Rhonda is a native of North Dakota, but has spent her life in search of warmer climates and now resides in Los Angeles as a freelance director, in addition to her work in New York City. She has her MFA in Acting and Directing, is a proud  member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an alumni of Directors Lab West and was a member of the SDC 2016-2017 Observership Class. She has experience with musicals, comedy, drama, original works, and contemporary pieces, as well as performance art, children’s theatre and opera. She continues to seek out opportunities to expand her knowledge and ability to handle many different genres of live theatre. As an artist, she wants to be known for her range and be able to look back at a body of work as deep as it is wide.

Currently, Rhonda is the movement director for the California premiere of FRANKENSTEIN at A Noise Within and is working with UK writing team Wigmore and Green on the development of the musical THE BACHELOR GIRLS. She recently participated in the Rogue Artists Ensemble Lab and her producion of the West Coast Premiere of FOR THE LOVE OF (or, the roller derby play), an all female roller derby dance-ical with Theatre of Note, was just remounted at the Kirk Douglas as part of the Center Theatre Group's Block Party in 2019. Rhonda just finished serving as the assistant director and assistant choreographer for Pasadena Playhouse's successful production of RAGTIME directed by David Lee with choreography by Mark Esposito. Prior she was the choreographer and assistant director for the Los Angeles premiere of  NATIVE GARDENS directed by Jason Alexander and assisted Michael Michetti on his adaptation of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY with A Noise Within. 

In the fall of 2016, Rhonda received the prestigious Traube Fellowship from the SDC Foundation to work with director Kathleen Marshall on the Broadway Premiere of the new musical IN TRANSIT and worked again with Mrs. Marshall and her Associate David Eggers on MAMMA MIA at the Hollywood Bowl this summer and at The Roundabout Theatre's recent benefit reading of DAMN YANKEES in NY and Reprise 2.0's Ovation-Nominated production of SWEET CHARITY starring Laura Bell Bundy. 

Previously, she assisted Sean Graney on Hyprocrites and Pasadena Playhouse's run of PIRATES OF PENZANCE and Micahel Michetti on the Los Angeles premiere of KING CHARLES III with Pasadena Playhouse. Rhonda was the Assistant Director for The Geffen Playhouses production of LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, featuring Jane Kaczmarek & Alfred Molina. She also had the honor of serving as Assistant Director to Colman Domingo on the West Coast Premiere of BARBECUE at the Geffen Playhouse. 

Prior, she directed the LA Times Critic's Choice - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS with Actors Co-op and the world premiere of POCKET UNIVERSE at the Hollywood Fringe. Additionally, she produced the Ovation and LA Weekly-nominated DR. JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE and THE DIVINERS at Actors Co-op Theatre Company, and directed THE SPITFIRE GRILL at Azusa Pacific University. In 2014 she directed OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS with Actors Co-op, participated in Directors Lab West in Los Angeles, as well as directing LOOK BACK IN ANGER with Los Angeles New Court Theatre, and Choreographed DR. FAUSTUS for Azusa Pacific University. She also choreographed I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE with Crown City Theater that ran for six months. In 2007, she was a certified SAFD actor combatant, having studied with fight director Richard Ryan (TROY). 

Rhonda has worked with theatre companies in New York, Virginia, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and California. She has taught and guest-directed at Azusa Pacific and Regent University. She is also the founder and artistic director of a non-profit for young artists called Hollywood Youth Theatre, as well as The Play's The Thing reading series in Hollywood.

Additional directing and choreography work includes: A TUNA CHRISTMAS, DON GIOVANNI, PIRATES OF PENZANCE, SPINNING INTO BUTTER, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, HELLO, DOLLY!, MERRILLY WE ROLL ALONG, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, THE GREAT DIVORCE, 1776, OLIVER!, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, CINDERELLA, YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN, SEUSSICAL, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ANNIE, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM COAT, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM and ALICE IN WONDERLAND.


Artistic Statment

The real voyage of discovery, Proust told us, is not about seeing new landscapes, but having new eyes. The inner expansion he’s describing - the moment when you see life from a different perspective is the driving heartbeat of why I tell stories on stage. I want audiences who watch my work to be moved outside of themselves, to see from another’s point of view, even if only for a moment. I want them to ask questions, to wrestle with thoughts they’d rather not think, and ultimately, to experience the voyage of discovery that comes when our empathy for one another is multiplied in that peculiar way that theatre can accomplish best. These are lofty, idealistic goals, of course. But if I’ve discovered nothing else about myself as an artist, I know that these pursuits are worth the risk. I like chasing what scares me about a piece and seeing what approach will serve the material in a surprising way. 

As a director, I want to be known for my range and my ability to handle many different kinds of productions. Whether it’s a large-scale musical, a farce, or a gritty, two-person drama, I am proud of my growing capacity for drawing the universal human experiences out of every kind of story. Coming from the world of movement, musical theatre and comedies will always feel like home to me. But as my work has developed, I have also fallen in love with the challenge of drama and intimate pieces, adapting my aesthetic to tell many different kinds of stories. I want to be able to look back at a body of work that is as deep as it is wide. 

My journey from dancer to choreographer to actor to director gives me a unique perspective when I approach a show. I have a heightened awareness of physical choices on stage and the importance of what can be communicated non-verbally.  I always begin my journey with a show by finding movement languages or images that encapsulate the themes of the material and inform my approach. I am drawn, even in the most naturalistic of pieces, to exploring how expressionistic touches can shift our perspectives. I love finding ways to elevate “realism” through appropriate imagery that ties the universal themes to the grounded world of the story, even in the most minute details, like how the scene transitions help the continuity of experience for the audience. 

In fact, I believe my commitment to details is one of my most unique traits. I am a huge proponent of organization and preparation beforehand, so I can give myself the chance to know the world completely enough that I (and the team) can make spontaneous choices in the moment that fit the whole. I find a detail-oriented approach gives me the freedom to explore the big picture and develop my vision from a place of preparation. I know that through the journey of preparing, staging, and ultimately, watching a finished show, my point of view is going to be enriched.

As Tom Stoppard famously said, he writes plays to "nudge the world a little." I don’t believe anything is as effective at nudging the world as theatre. I know firsthand theatre’s ability to affect me, which makes me all the more excited to use it to affect others and contribute to something larger with my life. My eyes are going to be “made new.” And I can’t wait to take a few people with me.

I hope to create with you soon!
Rhonda Kohl