Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Opens KING JOHN Tonight, 7/26

The final play of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's 21st season, King John, opens tonight, July 26 in the Schubert Theatre, running through August 5, 2012.

Rehearsed the way Shakespeare's company likely would have, King John is opening before an audience after only four days of rehearsal. The actors arrived with their lines memorized and work without a director – the position didn't exist in Shakespeare's time – costume themselves, and use design elements from other productions. PSF first employed this "extreme Shakespeare" approach with last season's production of The Two Noble Kinsmen. Actors in Shakespeare's time were believed to have had to perform plays on short notice and present dozens of plays in the span of a few weeks.

King John emulates aspects of Elizabethan rehearsal methods and creates a theatrical experience for patrons similar to that of Shakespeare's time.

King John follows the life and death of John, the King of England in the early 13th Century. Rising to his position after the death of his brother King Richard the Lion-hearted, the legitimacy of his reign is questioned by Constance, who asserts her son Arthur is the true heir to the throne. As King John navigates a landscape of murder and intrigue, he is challenged from all sides. With boundless ambition, corruption and greed plaguing the kingdom, England struggles to unite under a single, legitimate ruler.

Appearing in his 19th season with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Greg Wood takes the stage as King John. Wood has starred in many productions throughout his PSF career, most recently as Prospero in The Tempest, earlier this season.

Sally Mercer plays Queen Eleanor, the mother of King John, after making appearances in past PSF productions as the Duenna in Cyrano, Maria in Twelfth Night and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Ian Bedford, previously seen in PSF productions of Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and others, takes the stage as Philip the Bastard, the illegitimate son of King Richard who becomes a staunch supporter of King John

Eric Hissom plays the role of King Philip, the champion of Arthur and challenger to King John. Susan Riley Stevens plays Constance, who urges her son Arthur, Brendan Moser, to rise up and assert his claim to the throne. Richard B. Watson takes the stage as Cardinal Pandulph, the voice for the Pope who questions King John's lack of servitude to Rome. John Ahlin plays Hubert, who allies himself with King John.

Erin Hurley and Patrick Mulcahy have worked on the script cutting and cast doubling schemes. Stacy Renee Norwood serves as the Production Stage Manager.

· Performances: Tuesday July 31 at 7pm; Wednesday July 25 & August 1 at 8pm; Thursday July 26 & August 2 at 8pm; Friday July 27 & August 3 at 8pm; Saturday July 28 & August 4 at 2pm and 8pm; Sunday July 29 & August 5 at 2pm and 7:30pm

· Tickets: $32-$34; Limited $25 section B seats; Student rush, 30 minutes prior to curtain, $10 with I.D. Tickets to King John are available at www.pashakespeare.org and by contacting the Box Office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

PRINCIPAL ARTISTS' BIOGRAPHIES

John Ahlin, Hubert. John has appeared in PSF's productions of Henry IV, Twelfth Night, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playboy of the Western World and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Broadway credits: Waiting for Godot, Journey's End (2007 Tony Award for Best Revival), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo' Time, Whoopee! and Macbeth. Off-Broadway: Orson Welles in Orson's Shadow. Regional: Two River Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Old Globe Theatre, and Goodman Theatre and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. John will appear in the latest Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis.

IAN BEDFORD, Phillip the Bastard. PSF credits: Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Othello, As You Like It and Henry IV, Part 1. Recent regional: Of Mice and Men (People's Light), Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare), Superior Donuts (Arden Theater), School of Night (Mark Taper Forum), The Beaux Stratagem and Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre), the title roles in Richard III (Lake Tahoe Shakespeare) and Macbeth (Orlando Shakespeare). TV: recurring on Law & Order: SVU and Nurse Jackie.




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