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Tony Nominee Forrest McClendon to Star in Lantern Theatre's JULIUS CAESAR, 2/6-3/16

Forrest McClendon. Photo by Walter McBride.

Lantern Theater Company, critically acclaimed in Philadelphia for their annual Shakespearean offering, presents The Tragedy of Julius Caesar as the highlight of their 20th season. Directed by the Lantern's Artistic Director Charles McMahon and starring Tony Award-nominated actor Forrest McClendon in the title role, the Lantern's production is inspired by the warrior ethos of feudal Japan, calling into question the rights of the ruler against the rights of his people. Performances run February 6 - March 16, 2014. [Full schedule including special events is below]

Idealism, envy and power politics collide in one of Shakespeare's best known yet rarely performed tragedies. The popularity behind the powerful Roman leader Julius Caesar (McClendon) is breeding a suspicion among rivals and friends alike - including senators Cassius (Joe Guzmán) and Brutus (U.R.) - that Caesar's rise will corrode the freedom of the State. As a conspiracy unfolds, Caesar's disregard to prophetic warnings leads to his tragic fall, sending Rome into a disastrous civil war ignited by Marc Antony (Jered McLenigan)'s oft quoted oration.

"What happens when a character with a powerful, personal objective gets into the right place at the right time, and rallies the country behind him?" posits director Charles McMahon. "Everyday in every democratic body, legislators are having an encounter with these forces. Especially in a democracy, this play will never get old."

Influenced by the aesthetic and philosophical similarities of feudal Japan to Shakespeare's Rome, set, costume and sound design will incorporate conceptual elements such as Shoji screen architecture, traditional Japanese warrior clothing and music performed by Philadelphia's Taiko drum band ensemble, Kyo Daiko. Led by production manager and scenic designer Meghan Jones, the creative team includes costume designer Brian Strachan, lighting designer Shon Causer and sound designer Mark Valenzuela, with music by Christopher Colucci and fights by J. Alex Cordaro.

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar runs February 6 - March 16, 2014 (press opening: Wednesday, February 12, 7 p.m.). Tickets are $20 - $38 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more and U.S. military personnel. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen's Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.

2013/14 Season: Lantern Theater Company will continue its 2013/14 season with the Philadelphia Premiere of Athol Fugard's The Train Driver, starring Peter DeLaurier and Frank X, directed by Matt Pfeiffer (April 10 - May 4, 2014); and C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, adapted by Anthony Lawton (May 27 - June 15, 2014).

About the Cast:

In the title role of Julius Caesar is Forrest McClendon, a Tony Award nominee for his Broadway debut as Mr. Tambo in The Scottsboro Boys, a role he first created at the Vineyard and Guthrie theaters. Post-Broadway, Forrest received a Barrymore Award for his reprisal of the role at Philadelphia Theatre Company, and most recently appeared in its critically-acclaimed London premiere at the Young Vic. Forrest has previously performed at the Lantern in 2009's Sizwe Bansi Is Dead and 2004's Death and the King's Horseman.

Barrymore Award-winner Joe Guzmán returns to the Lantern stage for the tenth time as conspiring Roman senator Caius Cassius. Other Lantern productions include Twelfth Night, A Dolls House, King Lear, Through the Looking Glass, Noonday Demons (also co-directed), Speed-The-Plow, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Lovers and Executioners (Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor). Recent work at other theaters includes True Story at Passage Theatre Company, Inherit the Wind at Bristol Riverside Theatre, How I Learned to Drive at Theatre Horizon, Cinderella and Women in Jep at the Arden, Any Wednesday and Half and Half at Montgomery Theater, Othello at Folger Shakespeare Theatre, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Tom Sawyer at People's Light, The Light in the Piazza at Philadelphia Theatre Company and Skin In Flames at InterAct Theatre Company.


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