Charlie Mount and Theatre West Present a Chestnuts Production
THE LION IN WINTER
By James Goldman

Call 323-851-7977
Buy Tickets On Line

This show contains brief, tasteful nudity.


AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE PERFORMANCE SCHEDULED

On Sunday, March 19th at 2pm "The Lion In Winter" will provide American Sign Language interpreters. For information please contact Associate Producer Brenda Reynolds.


THE AQUITAINE CAST
Performing Jan 27- Feb 12, Feb 23-March 5, Mar 16- Apr 1
Jim Beaver • Adam Conger • Kendra Cover
•Yancey Dunham Jason Galloway • Bridget Hanley Matt Ritchey

THE VEXIN CAST
Performing Feb 16-19, Mar 9-12
John Cygan • Daniel Lindsay • Justin Meloni • Mike Onofri • Paula Rhodes • Joe Ross • Dianne Travis

Directed by Mark Travis
Produced by Charlie Mount
Associate Producer: Brenda Slaughter Reynolds
Assistant Directors Christopher Burns and Tina Cardinale
Character/Movement Choreography by Myrna Gawryn
Set Design by Jeff Rack
Lighting Design by Steve Hallada
Sound Design by Christopher Burns
Costumes Designer: Beth Morgan
Make-up Design by Ryan Durling
Stage Management by Emelle
Box Office: Helen Murray
Publicity: Judith Borne

"TERRIFIC PERFORMANCES, MOST NOTABLY BRIDGET HANLEY AS A REFRESHINGLY MATTER-OF-FACT ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE. JIM BEAVER IS A VIRILE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD HENRY. ADAM CONGER'S JOHN IS AN ACUTELY REALIZED WEASEL FERRETING FOR POWER, IN STARK CONTRAST TO YANCEY DUNHAM'S ROBUST RICHARD. FORMIDABLY ACTED."
Los Angeles Times

"A PIECE OF THEATRE THAT IS REALLY QUITE EXTRAORDINARY. UNFORGETTABLE. THE PERFORMANCES ARE ASTOUNDING."
MetroLA

"A SKILLED CAST AND A VISIONARY DIRECTOR"
BackStage West

"A POWERFULLY EXCITING AND RIVETING THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE, RICH WITH MASTERFUL PERFORMERS"
The Tolucan Times

"SHOT THROUGH WITH SAVAGE WIT, THE RESULT IS A RESOUNDINGLY POWERFUL PRODUCTION THAT SHOULD NOT BE MISSED. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."
Entertainment Today

"THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT JAMES GOLDMAN'S THE LION IN WINTER IS AN IMPRESSIVE PRESENTATION THAT EXPLORES THE CONCEPTS OF GREED, POWER AND TREASON, WITH EXCELLENT ACTING AND ABLE DIRECTION BY MARK TRAVIS"
ReviewPlays.com

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Made possible with a grant from The Lloyd E. Rigler- Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation
Poster Design by Charlie Mount. Poster Photos by Nara Vieira da Silva Osga

Press Contact: Judith Borne (310) 305-7888

The Lion In Winter. Set Design by Jeff Rack. Lighting Design by Steve Hallada.

 

 

Directed by Mark Travis

Produced by Charlie Mount

Jan 27 - Apr 1, 2006
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Sundays at 2pm.
No More Thursday Shows.

Scenes from Lion In Winter
Quicktime Required

Audience Praise
Quicktime Requiered

 

Jim Beaver and Bridget Hanley in The Lion In Winter
Photo by Michael Helms

Yancey Dunham, Matt Ritchey and Adam Conger. Costume Designer: Beth Morgan.
Photo By Dennis Kent

 

Review
BackStageWest

by Jeff Favre

It's been 40 years since James Goldman's play premiered in New York. Goldman's acerbic, high-minded witticisms combine the elegance of the Renaissance and the cynicism of the 20th century to create a modern classic. A favorite with community and regional theatres nationwide, it takes a skilled cast and a visionary director to grab an audience, which is exactly what this production offers. Director Mark Travis, taking the title literally, has created an animalistic Lion in Winter, using as his inspiration the plays lines: "We're jungle creatures, and the dark is all around us. In the corner you can see their eyes. And they can see ours." Assisted by remarkable sound and set designs, a live musician, and a choreographer, Goldman's version adds raw, violent energy to the stinging comedy. The cast...is mixed, though greatly bolstered by two excellent leads: Jim Beaver and Bridget Hanley.

Beaver portrays England's 12th century rule King Henry II, who in this blending of history and legend attempts to secure his legacy by naming his weak-willed son John (Adam Conger) to succeed him. Henry's wife, Eleanor (Hanley) -- whom Henry has kept imprisoned for years -- wants the throne for her strong warrior son Richard (Yancey Dunham). The third and wisest son, Geoffrey (Matt Ritchey), backs John, assuming he will control John. Young King Phillip of France (Jason Galloway) arrives for Christmas festivities to see that his sister Alais (Kendra Cover) is married to the successor, which Henry II doesn't want because Alais is his lover. Everyone is out for him -- or herself, willing to lie or backstab to gain power.

Goldman's torrent of clever lines -- when delivered with panache -- still elicit laughs. With a childlike demeanor that turns instantly to rage, Beaver has created a Henry that is equally lovable and dangerous. Hanley provides a perfect foil as Eleanor. She gives an air of vulnerability to the queen that makes it plausible for her children and husband to nearly fall for her ploys. Travis has fashioned an animal motif by dressing his cast in furs and skins, having them stalking, crouching and eventually pouncing on their respective prey. Jeff G. Rack's jagged rock set design resembles a lion's lair. Musician Marta Collier, setting a tribal beat with her drum, blends with Christopher Burns' jungle sounds to complete Travis' vision successfully. This is a Lion in Winter that feels invigorated and powerful, worthy of Goldman's words.


Review
MetroLA

by Don Grigware

As part of their Chestnuts (Revivals of Great Plays) Collection, Theatre West is presenting the second in the series, James Goldman's The Lion in Winter (the first being Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight last October.) I always wonder if a revival will have a fresh coat of paint, thus enchancing even further my artistic appreciation of the work. True, Goldman's script is verbally brilliant, and that in itself makes another viewing worthwhile, but, not unlike Henry and Eleanor, our intellectual curiosity craves more. Well, director Mark Travis and his renowned band of players are creating a piece of theatre that is really quite extraordinary, perhaps one of the finest productions I have seen at Theatre West.

If you remember the wonderful 1968 film with Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins, put it out of your mind. Its serious tone can in no way compare to the original play in which the comedy reigns as supreme as the King and Queen themselves. We look at these creatures, these barbarians and laugh at their flaws, perhaps a bit nervously at first -- maybe, just maybe because we see our own actions and motivations.

From 1183 to 2006, the human need for love, power and recognition has not changed. Their greed is our greed; their struggle to survive is ours as well. What else can we do but laugh in its face and move along as best we can? Their behavior toward one another was hardly exemplary. Well, just how omnipresent is our sense of compassion?

With the haunting drumbeats of percussionist Marta Collier and the movement of all the characters stalking each other like preying animals stilled after each scene, Mark Travis adds a primordial audio-visual touch to Goldman's work that is truly unforgettable, as are Jeff Rack's set and Steve Hallada's lighting design. The performances are astounding: Jim Beaver as Henry II, Bridget Hanley (not one false move) as Eleanor, Adam Conger (pathetically hilarious) as John, Yancey Dunham as Richard, Matt Ritchey as Geoffrey, Jason Galloway as Phillip and Kendra Cover as Alais.


Review
Entertainment Today

And You Thought Your Family's Christmas Was Bad?

Cave men, kings, Kennedys or Corleones -- the names may change but the game is the same, and the stakes are brutally high. In James Goldman's classic The Lion in Winter, directed by Mark Travis at Theatre West, power -- and more importantly, love -- are the scraps of meat King Henry's family have come to fight for over Christmas, 1138 A.D. And fight they do, with fang and claw and every ounce of guile in their considerable arsenals. Shot through with savage wit, the result is a resoundingly powerful production that should not be missed.

King of England for over 30 years, Henry (Jim Beaver) has grown weary and looks to name his successor among his three surviving sons. His boys (Yancey Dunham, Matt Ritchey, and Adam Conger) each have knives hidden for their father and each other in their aspirations to power, and the only think missing is a score card to keep track of the myriad of treacheries, deceits, and shifting alliances between the players. Henry's arch nemesis in this death match, though, is his banished wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, imprisoned for 10 years after her husband's affections turned elsewhere.

Performances are generally top notch, but towering above all is Bridget Hanley's Eleanor. She is magnificent as the cunning, ruthless and lonely old woman cast aside by by the only man she's ever loved. And this is, after all the claws have been sheathed, at its core a tremendous love story. Facing their mortality, unsure of their places in history, Eleanor and her Henry finally have only each other, no matter who or what may have come between them. Highly recommended.


Review
The Tolucan Times
by Pat Taylor

Bravo! This is a powerfully exciting and riveting theatrical experience, rich with masterful performers playing deliciously despicable characters and boasting topnotch production efforts all round. Undeniably, some stuffy history buffs may take issue with this primarily avant-garde revival concept adding some campy spice to the original script. I, not being historically savvy, was enthralled throughout! In fact, I'd never even seen the film starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole that garnered an Oscar for Screenplay Adpatation by its writer, James Goldman. Presented by Chestnut Productions and Charlie Mount as part of a series of great plays, the first one, "Requiem for a Heavyweight", starring Michael Harrity, was well accepted. Mark Travis, touted by the LA TImes as a creator of a new theatre genre, boldly directs a fine cast here, inspiring crisply caustic, razor sharp, well timed comedic portrayals. The always spellbinding Bridget Hanley (from Here Come The Brides and Harper Valley PTA) and Jim Beaver (Ellsworth on HBO'S Deadwood) explode eloquently in the lead roles. Skilled consummate actors, they play off of each other with brittle and biting brilliance! Remembered historically for their love/hate relationship (circa 1138 A.D.), having once spawned three greedy and ungrateful sons, Henry and Eleanor's battle for power and independence is legendary. As Henry's longtime obsession and young mistress Alais, Kendra Cover gives a hauntingly focused performance, and Jason Galloway as her brother, Phillip, is also commendable. Animated, treacherous, fun filled sibling rivalry is offered by the three cutthroat and conniving sons competing for their father's throne as king. They are: Adam Conger, Matt Ritchey and Yancey Dunham. Nice touches: primitive jungle-like onstage percussion work by musician Marta Collier, Jeff Rack's eerie and sweeping set, and Beth Morgan's elaborate period costumes. Quoting here: "Treachery, lechery, and traitorous behavior. What family doesn't have its ups and downs?" This is an entertaining and epic production. Witty and worldly -- do see it!


Review
ReviewPlays.Com
ReviewPlays.com

Couched in a theme of family betrayal and intrigue, seven greedy and ambitious royal characters cheat and connive for personal gain and political power in this grand presentation that’s set in the South of France at King Henry's Chinon Castle during the twenty-four-hour Christmas court held in 1183. After years on the throne, the main character, Henry (Jim Beaver), is beginning to think about his own mortality feeling its time to name a successor. Henry favors his youngest son John (Adam Conger), a wimpy, pimple-faced brat who abuses his father's affection but queen Eleanor (Bridget Hanley) favors her oldest son, Richard (Lionheart – played by Yancey Dunham), but because she took part in civil wars against Henry, he has kept her imprisoned under "house arrest" in a tower in Salisbury, England, for the last ten years. Now Henry has a young mistress, Alais, the sister of the King of France, (Kendra Cover) but he wants her to marry John to keep England's holding in that country. Henry tells her that they will be able to remain lovers even if she does marry John, but she feels betrayed and refuses.

Eleanor is allowed to leave her tower on special occasions and when she discovers that Henry wants to name John to be the king, she schemes to have Richard named and even promises to yield her own territory, the Aquitaine, to Henry, if Richard is the heir. In their squabbling about Richard and John, their middle son, Geoffrey (Matt Ritchey), feels that he has been neglected, and he begins to undermine both of their plans.

When the final major character of the story, King Phillip II of France (Jason Galloway), Alais' brother, comes to the Christmas Court after the others have arrived he also begins his own plot to rid France of any English holdings, and to achieve this, he tries to enlist John and Geoffrey and we later learn of a physical liaison with Richard the summer before. Alais is just a pawn in the power game, more for her position, and not for herself. With such elaborate premises, the actors have a perfect venue to shine, and shine they do.

Who can you get to follow Katharine Hepburn’s Oscar winning Eleanor in “The Lion” film of 1968? The answer is simple. Bridget Hanley, who almost walks off with the show in a wonderfully fleshed out performance as her Eleanor is torn between her feelings for her sons, whom she later admits to not liking very much, the humiliation of being imprisoned and seeing her husband flaunt his lover, a girl that she almost raised from childhood. Jim Beaver gives Henry II a glint of comic flair mixed with a strong sense of power brokerage. Kendra Cover is excellent as the powerless Alais and Adam Conger makes a wonderfully spoiled prince John. Yancey Dunham keeps a somber face throughout the action as the moody Richard, as Matt Ritchey’s Geoffrey spends a lot of time crouched behind props while smoldering with rage. Jason Galloway’s King Phillip of France makes a strong impression with his brief lines.

These grand schemes revolve in an impressive setting of tilted columns and with an angularly distorted throne designed by Jeff Rack. Surrounded by muted colors and shadowy lighting design by Steve Hallada, the effect is a convincing lair of intrigue and seduction. While one often hears that sound effects and music should be so much a part of the story that they are imperceptible, you certainly can’t say that about Christopher Burns’ sound designs. The background bristles with stark percussive, staccato drumming between scenes, sounds of fighting cats, lion roars and other quasi-identifiable sounds. Punctuating the action, Kolja Erdman’s ominous choral renderings and musical themes round the story. Beth Morgan’s costumes are amazingly detailed and visual.

The bottom line is that James Goldman’s The Lion In Winter is an impressive presentation that explores the concepts of greed, power and treason, with excellent acting and able direction by Mark Travis. Chestnuts, a company that espouses “Revivals of Great Plays” in collaboration with Theatre West will present this show until April 1, 2006.


Audience Comments
Reader Reviews from LATimes.com

WHAT an amazing production. I really enjoyed the risks that the director, Mark Travis, bravely embraced. The play is well known, but what ALL of the actors bring to their repective roles under his direction, is truly wonderful to watch. From top to bottom, I was not only entertained, but moved through an enjoyable evening. Every part, big to small was well acted, the directing, set design, sound and lighting all superb! ~ Mary, LA, CA

ABOUT 20 years ago, I saw a play a Theatre West called "Verdigris." It was directed by the same Mark Travis who has directed this new production of "Lion in Winter." (Coincidentally, it was written by the same Jim Beaver who stars in this new production.) At that time, I thought I had never seen a finer example of small-theater production in Los Angeles. Since then, I have seen as many of Mr. Travis's productions as I have been able to. And I think now that his new production of James Goldman's "Lion in Winter" is the crowning achievement of his career. It seems like every theatergoer has seen "Lion," or at least the movie. It's a warhorse, a wonderful one, but a warhorse. And it's almost always done the same way, with costumes and sets and music interchangeable with "Sleeping Beauty" or "Camelot." But Mr. Travis has reimagined the play, not as a historically based comedy with tragic overtones, but as a family tragedy with comic overtones. Don't get me wrong, it's a wildly funny night at the theatre. But instead of focusing on kings and crowns and thrones, he's forced us to see the people whose family is being torn apart by those things. It's a comedic "Long Day's Journey Into Night" or "All My Sons." And instead of a real castle, we see the characters placed in an elemental and primitive place that truly befits their emotional chaos. Lights, sets, music, and sound are simply stunning, and the costumes are the most evocative I've ever seen for this play (or most plays, for that matter). ~ Walt, Torrance, CA

DO NOT miss this terrific piece of theater. Emotionally riveting, deeply intelligent, physically and visually thrilling and... funny!. What more coiuld you ask? The night I saw it, the audience gave a standing ovation --completely deserved. The cast is powerful and talented and the production – from sound, to costumes to total concept and vision - is a work of professional and passionate art. ~ Sam, Santa Monica

THIS is quite simply a must see "event" for any theatre lover...for anyone!! The director, Mark Travis, and his cast have managed to take a piece that we're familiar with and totally recreate it in a brilliantly innovative fashion. You have not seen "Lion" this way! Brigitte Hanley, Jim Beaver, Adam Conger and the rest of the company will have you on the edge of your seats. The music, set design, lighting is cutting edge. This production easily rivals and surpasses any other, in any medium, you might have seen! The experience is not to be missed. ~ Sondra, Los Angeles, CA

THIS production is exquisite... the acting is mesmerizing, the staging is stylistically superb. Making the most of intricately woven dialogue peppered with cheek and cynicism, this clever director has created an animalistic journey of manipulation and deceit. The cast shines. A must-see. ~ Kelly, Santa Monica , CA


ABOUT "THE LION IN WINTER"

Between history and legend there lies an alluring and soulful account of Henry II, the first Plantagenet King, and his role in one of the most enduring empires since Charlemagne. In this bold new production, the words of writer James Goldman (1927-1998: Oscar recipient for the screenplay adaptation of The Lion in Winter; Olivier and London/NY Critic’s Circle awards for Follies) bring the passionate and human comic/tragic elements of history to life during a Christmas Court family reunion in 1183 A.D.

Beginning a tradition of reviving great plays, in conjunction with the longest operating theatre company in Los Angeles (Theatre West), Chestnuts Productions helmed by Charlie Mount (Producer) presents The Lion in Winter as its second project (opening its first season with Requiem for a Heavyweight).

“Chestnuts is commendably affording new audiences a chance at seeing productions that might have been lost to history” ~ Backstage West

Charlie Mount and Brenda Slaughter-Reynolds will produce as Director Mark Travis brings his bold new and highly theatrical/primal concept into existence. Mark is credited with creating a “new theatre genre” by the Los Angeles Times after directing many notable shows such as Time Flies When You're Alive and A Bronx Tale.

Jim Beaver will play King Henry II, whose remarkable rule of 30 years dramatically expanded England’s territories. Jim is currently starring as “Ellsworth” in the acclaimed HBO series Deadwood. Bridget Hanley portrays Eleanor of Aquitaine, the woman of legend that Henry married out of love, but imprisoned for raising rebellions, and rallying their sons to do battle against him. Bridget is easily recognizable from her years of stage experience, starring roles on Here Come the Brides, Harper Valley PTA, and many film appearances. (Jim Beaver and Bridget Hanley will perform at most performances. See schedule below.)

As parents, they wanted their children to succeed, but succeeding the throne of the most powerful empire on earth creates cause for debate, and a platform for some of the most primal and primitive human expression known to emerging civilization.

“We are jungle creatures and dark is all around us...”
~ Eleanor

“I am a match for anything, aren’t you?”
~ Henry

Come join us and let the games begin…

The "Aquitaine" Cast
Performing Jan 27- Feb 12, Feb 23-March 5, Mar 16- Apr 1

Jim Beaver Adam Conger Kendra Cover Yancey Dunham
 
Jason Galloway Bridget Hanley Matt Ritchey  

The "Vexin" Cast
Performing Feb 16-19, Mar 9-12

John Cygan Daniel Lindsay Justin Meloni Mike Onofri
 
Paula Rhodes Joe Ross Dianne Travis  
Rehearsal Photos
Rehearsal Photos by John Cygan

Production Bios

Charlie Mount (Chestnuts Producing Director) Charlie Mount founded Chestnuts at Theatre West in 2005 as a new company wing dedicated to reviving great plays. His first Chestnuts production was Requiem for a Heavyweight. The play captured rave reviews from local critics and a "Recommended" status from both the Los Angeles Times and the LA Weekly. Mr. Mount got his professional start working as a comic and magician in clubs all over New York, including his long time stint at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, working with people like Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Dave Atell, Chris Rock and Collin Quinn. His first play, The "Indecent Act of Jeff Zelinski", was produced Off Off Broadway in 1987. He made guest appearances on MTV, The Regis Philbin Show, and more. He appeared in numerous plays and was a member of New York's Drama Project workshop company. In 1994 Charlie moved to Los Angeles where he joined Theatre Geo as an actor and playwright. He had several more of his plays produced, including "Trumpets and Table-Tipping" at Theatre 40, and "The Junto" at The Road Theatre. In 1996 Charlie joined Theatre West, where he served as Board Member, and taught acting and Improvisation. He also created a Youth Theatre show called "Abracdabra", a one man show called "Scary Magic Needle Show", and performed as Doug in Ray Bradbury's "The October Country".He's made several television commercials, and did guest shots on several shows, including Beverly Hills 90210 and Saved by the Bell. In 1999 Charlie became the General Manager for Classic Arts Showcase, a free cable television program designed to bring the classic arts experience to over 50 million American homes.

Mark Travis (Director) returns from Kiev, to helm this production, where he has been collaborating with Ukrainian artists to restore a film industry and arts community that once thrived. His film work includes Going Under, for Warner Brothers, starring Bill Pullman and Ned Beatty, and Earlet and The Baritones. He is slated to helm the feature film Jeremy and the Aunties for Kevin Lee Films in Munich. Mark creates a bold new and highly theatrical/primal production of The Lion in Winter. In the theater Mark has directed upwards of 60 productions in Los Angeles and New York receiving over 20 Directing awards. He is credited with creating a “new theatre genre” by the Los Angeles Times after directing many notable shows such as Time Flies When You're Alive and A Bronx Tale. He is the author of the #1 Best Seller, The Director's Journey and the updated version Directing Feature Films. Mark is currently writing Word of Mouth: the Art and Craft of Autobiographical Storytelling.

John Gallogly (Theatre West Executive Director) began his career in Theater performing on Broadway in four original plays including Runaways and The Utter Glory of Morrisey Hall. His stage experience also includes performances with the New York Shakespeare Festival, The American Place Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Wooster Group, and appearances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. At Theatre West, John has produced and directed original plays by James Dickey, Steve Allen, and Doug Haverty. He has created a Youth Theatre program, and was nominated by the BBC Scotland for Best Production at the Edinburgh Festival. For the MFA program at AFI, John has taught directing and acting and has served as Artistic Moderator for the Acting Workshop and Associate Program. John is on the Executive Board for Arts for LA.

Brenda Slaughter Reynolds (Associate Producer) has worked extensively in New York theater on Broadway, Off Broadway and in theaters such as Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Cherry Lane, The Ohio Theater, LaMama and many more. In Los Angeles Brenda has worked at the Schubert Theatre, The Falcon Theatre, and was recently the Managing Director at Interact Theatre Company. She is a recipient of a Schubert Foundation grant and received the DRA Scholarship Award while attending Columbia University.

Myrna Gawryn (Character/Movement Choreography) brings her experience from years of working in prisons ("Arts in Corrections" and "Arts Reach") and rehabilitation facilities to knock the 21st century out of the actors, and transform their beings into 12th century royalty, aristocracy, and the proletariat.

Tina Cardinale and Christopher Burns (Assistant Directors) will bring their expertise to this production as long time active members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms. This group was featured in the documentary "In Service to the Dream." Tina and Chris have worked for many years on projects in theater, film, and television.