|cast of the Barn's The Lion in Winter: back: Robert Newman, King Zimmer|
Front: William Dunn, Jamey Grisham, and Jabri Johnson
As part of the move west, local jobs are coming to an end. This one has been sputtering for some time due to changes at the newspaper and my own busy schedule.
Unless I decide to pursue this craft out west, and not counting any reviews I will write on this blog, this review is my last, at least published in a publication with fair circulation and backed by Gannett. Likely, this will be my last review of any theatre performances.
I feel my note to readers, which I have included first here but is last in the link if you follow it says it all. Anything else, I would say would be repeat, except that this was a delightful show on which to end my run.
Want to see some great theatre?
Try this one. It's exceptional.
Thanks to the Battle Creek Enquirer, all the editors with whom I worked, all the thespians with whom I discussed theatre and the failing art form, the diminishing audiences, thank you all. I have been very blessed.
FROM - http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/entertainment/2017/07/26/theater-review-newman-and-zimmer-sizzle-lion-winter/513252001/
"The Lion in Winter”
a production of the Barn Theatre
at the Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI
Attended Date: July 25, 2016
reviewed by Christopher Tower
NOTE TO MY READERS: This is my last review for the Battle Creek Enquirer as I am moving to the west coast. Thank you to all the readers who have sent notes or verbally shared reactions over the last 23 years since I started in 1994. It has been a privilege to enjoy so much high quality theatre and music in west Michigan and to share it with all of you.
Like the gems in the crowns of the British monarchy, Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer are jewels in the crown of the Barn Theatre. Consummate professionals and master-level talents, these two veterans of stage and screen manage flawless execution and the air of royalty in this drama of English succession circa 1183.
Though James Goldman’s play debuted in 1966, the 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn is more well-known. It also sets performance at a very high mark indeed as the rest of the cast included Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Terry, and John Castle. And yet this cast fills those shoes with ease, especially Newman and Zimmer, who are local royalty in yet another return to the Barn Theatre, where they receive warm applause when first appearing on stage.
The Barn Theatre has never produced this show in its 71 year history. Set during Christmas in medieval France, in lands conquered by the English, King Henry II of England (Robert Newman) has summoned his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Kim Zimmer) from her imprisonment to negotiate with the French King Philip (Quinn Moran) over occupied lands and to choose an heir to his throne. Henry favors his youngest son John (William Dunn); Eleanor favors the eldest son Richard the Lionheart (Jamey Grisham), who does succeed Henry upon his death six years later.
John is eventually King after Richard, and is known for signing the Magna Carta and as the King John in the Robin Hood stories. The third son, Geoffrey (Jabri Johnson), the schemer, plays a role much like Loki in the Norse legends as stronger warriors (Richard) and the family baby (John) are always favored over middle children.
Further complicating matters, King Philip wishes his half sister Alais Capet (Audrey Morton), fostered by the British, to either marry the heir (be it Richard or John) or have Henry return her dowry, strategically important French lands. But Alais is Henry’s mistress, and the King actually fancies having his marriage to Eleanor annulled and starting a new family of sons with her rather than dealing with manipulations and threats of war from his current brood.
Does it all sound like an episode of HBO’s drama “Game of Thrones”? Of course, it does as the George RR Martin story owes much allegiance to stories like “The Lion in Winter,” which in turn owe great allegiance to the plays of William Shakespeare.
And like “Game of Thrones,” the verbal jousting is a feast for fans of strong dialogue and well-wrought conflicts. Though not historically accurate, the Goldman script is rich and powerful, and the movie won three Academy Awards, including a Best Actress Oscar for Hepburn.
The Barn’s cast matches the movie cast in every way. Newman shows why he won two Daytime Emmy Awards for playing Joshua Lewis in his 28 years on “Guiding Light.” Producer Brendan Ragotzy confessed that his father Jack may have never done this show because he did not have that right actor for Henry but Brendan does. Newman is stunning as the King and shows great range from screaming rage to quiet resignation.
Likewise, Kim Zimmer proves why she won four Daytime Emmys in her 32-year run on “Guiding Light” as she can act beat for beat in tune with greats like Katharine Hepburn. Her performance is intricate, nuanced, and flawless like the choicest diamond.
But the show would be horribly uneven if the rest of the cast did not measure up to the majesty of this King and Queen, and yet, they do. All three sons (Grisham, Johnson, and Dunn) deliver strong performances as well as the French siblings (Moran and Morton) who round out this small cast.
The stage is beautifully appointed with real candles and torches and a well designed, rotating set with medieval arches and appointments by designer Samantha Snow. Lights by Mike McShane provide suitable ambience and tone, and costumes by Payge Crock are rich and appropriate. The entire show is unified by the smart direction of Hans Friedrichs.
As the only non-musical of its 71st season, the Barn picked a blockbuster. Newman and Zimmer sizzle on stage, and the rest of the cast nearly riot in a frenzy of high drama and conflict. The entire two and a half hours zip by in a flash and are well worth the drive to Augusta for this grand historical drama. Don’t miss it!
Reflect and connect.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
I miss you so very much, Mom.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 755 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.29 - 10:10
NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.