HENRY IV, PART I to Run 3/12-5/3 at Antaeus

Antaeus, L.A.'s classical theater ensemble, opens its 2015 season with a fully partner-cast production of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I. Previews begin March 6, with two opening nights set for March 12 and March 13 (one with each cast) at the Antaeus Theater in NoHo. Michael Murray directs.

Part comedy, part tragedy, part growing-up tale of youthful rebellion, Henry IV, Part I remains one of Shakespeare's most exciting histories. From drunken revelry to the bloody battlefield, Antaeus' lean and muscular version, streamlined for a cast of 12, dives deep into the heart of the timeless question, "What does it mean to become a man?"

"This is the great epic poem of England," says Murray, who has previously directed numerous ClassicsFest readings for Antaeus, including the popular Hughie. "It includes the entire spectrum of British society, from the highest to the lowest levels. But what particularly interests me are the personal relationships - the human stories that are at the forefront when you work directly from the text, rather than from popular notions about the play that have developed over the centuries."

In the Antaeus tradition best known as "partner casting," two actors share every role, working together throughout the rehearsal process to enrich the creative experience for both cast and audience. Young Prince Hal (Ramón de Ocampo and Michael Kirby) is a king in the making. He is the son of England's King Henry IV (James Sutorius and Joel Swetow), who usurped the crown from King Richard II. But Hal is not interested in princely matters, and wastes his time in taverns with the lower classes, particularly a bunch of rowdy, drunken thieves, presided over by the fat, merry and wanton knight, Sir John Falstaff (Stephen Caffrey and Gregory Itzin). Both King Henry and Falstaff offer the young lad fatherly advice. But whose will he follow-that of his stern, proper and penitent biological father, or the robust liar, cynical pragmatist and lover of life, Falstaff? The young prince is forced to sober up quickly when his father's crown is threatened by a rebellion, led by the turncoat Henry "Hotspur" Percy (Daniel Bess and Joe Holt). To defend his father and his country, Hal must forsake his dissolute and bawdy ways, returning home as a prodigal son.

Rounding out the cast in multiple roles are Sally Hughes and Desirée Mee Jung as Lady Percy, Francis and others; Mark Bramhall and Joe Hulser as Westmoreland, Glendower and more; Mitchell Edmonds and Marcelo Tubert as Northumberland, Bardolph and Chamberlain; Jesse Gavin and Jason Turner as Poins and others; Tony Amendola and Bo Foxworth as Worcester and the Sheriff; Tro Shaw and Danielle Thorpe as Gadshill and Lady Mortimer; Rhonda Aldrich and Elizabeth Dennehy as Mistress Quickly, Vernon and more; and Adam J. Smith and Jeff Torres as Blunt and Mortimer.

Scenic design for Henry IV, Part I is by François-Pierre Couture; lighting design is by Michael Gend; costume design is by Terri A. Lewis; sound design is by Peter Bayne; props design is by Adam Meyer; fight choreography is by Ken Merckx; dramaturge is Armin Shimerman; assistant directors are Maureen Lee Lenker and Rachel Berney Needleman; assistant stage managers are Anne Kelly and Emily Lehrer; and the production stage manager is Kristin Weber.

Antaeus is a cooperative theater ensemble founded to empower the actor and to bring classical theater to Los Angeles. The company exists to create a family of artists and audiences and is dedicated to exploring stories with enduring themes. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members - many of whom are familiar to film and television audiences - regain their creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater. Members of the company span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film, television and on local stages, and are the recipients of numerous accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards. Audiences, who never see an understudy due to Antaeus' trademark "partner casting," frequently return to see the same play in the hands of an equally excellent but very different set of actors.

Following Henry IV, Part I, the 2015 season continues with Picnic by William Inge (June 25-Aug. 9); and Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov (Oct. 15-Dec. 6)

According to Antaeus co-directors Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and John Sloan, "Henry IV, Part I sets up a coming of age theme that is pervasive in all three 2015 plays. As Antaeus itself continues to grow and change, these questions resonate with us."

Performances of Henry IV, Part I take place March 12 through May 3 on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. (no matinee performance on Saturday, March 14). There will be six previews, March 5-11: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets to the opening night performances on March 12 and March 13 are $34, after which all tickets are $30 on Thursdays and Fridays and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; previews are $15. The Antaeus Company is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood, CA 91601. Parking is available for $7 in the lot at 5125 Lankershim Blvd. (west side of the street), just south of Magnolia. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call 818-506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.


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