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BWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

Now through January 30, get swept away by this stellar cast at LTM.

BWW Review: THE LION IN WINTER at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

The Lion in Winter, written by James Goldman, first appeared on Broadway in 1966. Just two years later it was adapted for the screen in the 1968 Academy Award winning film of the same title. The play takes place in 1183 and highlights the political maneuverings of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor, and their sons. This drama, inspired by historical events, focuses on the characters and their relationships. The Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg brings this story to the stage January 14-30, directed by Stephen Hensel and performed by a stellar cast.

The set and lighting for the show are well-designed to keep the audience's attention focused on the actors. The costumes, designed by Meredith Hensel, are stunning and suit each character beautifully, highlighting aspects of their personalities and ambitions through their style and colors. From the very first moment on stage the actors capture the audience's attention, drawing them into the story through their stage presence and intensity of emotion. There is not a single weak link to be found in this cast.

Ricardo Graham takes on the role of France's Phillip, infusing the character with a suave self-confidence (bordering on arrogance), that makes the character a perfect match for Henry's more brash type of leadership. Graham is just as intriguing to watch in the scenes where Phillip is observing the royal family as he is in the scenes when he is center-stage, as he never wavers in his focus, always giving the impression that he is carefully calculating how to use what he is seeing and hearing to his advantage.

Henry's sons, John, Richard, and Geoffrey, are portrayed by A.J. Rhoads, Jim "Bluto" Fisher, and Benjamin Greenberg, respectively. Rhoads is delightfully bratty in his role as the youngest son. He plays the hormonal teenager quite well while allowing the audience to see how his naive worldview shatters when he begins to get caught up in the world of royal intrigue and deceit. Fisher plays Richard with great strength, highlighting the character's practical mind and ambitious desire for power. Greenberg takes on one of the most complex roles in the show as Geoffrey, the son no one sees as king. Greenberg is impressive in this role, bringing out the nuances in the character with great finesse.

The female characters are just as conniving and intriguing as the men and are portrayed beautifully by Becky Winter and Katy Clay. Winter plays Alais, Henry's young mistress. At the beginning of the play Winter emphasizes the characters sweet innocence; however, as the storyline progresses, she allows the audience to see just how intelligent and ambitious Alais really is. Clay is mesmerizing in her role as Eleanor, the imprisoned queen. She manages the nuances and complexities of the role effortlessly, and her interactions with the other characters have an authenticity that is breathtaking.

Whether they love him, hate him, admire him, or wish to be him, the character of Henry II pulls all of the other characters together. This role, portrayed by Craig Copas, requires strength, humor, and a larger-than-life presence, all of which Copas brings to the stage. Through his posture and movements there is no question that Henry is in charge. However, it is Copas's expressive voice and face that really bring the character to life. Every intricate emotion that Henry experiences throughout the show is evident to the audience, making the character seem more real and, in a strange way, more relatable.

The play is well-written, and it requires a talented cast and crew to draw the audience into the time and place, to bring out the intricacies of the characters, and to delve into the complex relationships between them. Director Stephen Hensel and his cast and crew do not disappoint. This is a performance you will not want to miss, so visit to get your tickets today!

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From This Author - Andrea Stephenson