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a play for actors

'The Lion in Winter' will spotlight
by: Chase Allgood, Eleanor (Jeanna Van Dyke), wife of King Henry II of England, commits her allegiance to her son Richard (Brandon Weaver), heir to the throne. Meanwhile, other family members are doing their own scheming to get their fair share of the kingdom.

Pruella Centers can't wait for audiences to see the depth of acting ability in 'The Lion in Winter,' which opens in the Theater in the Grove this Friday. 'It's a great play for actors to sink their teeth into. There are a lot of conflicting emotions,' she said. 'It's a treat for audiences to see what our actors are really capable of.'

The play takes place over Christmas 1183 in Henry II (Scott Malcom) of England's French palace. The aging Henry hopes to name a successor at the gathering. His wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Jeanna Van Dyke), has just returned from prison and personality conflicts abound. The potential heirs include: Richard (Brandon Weaver), the future King Richard the Lionhearted of England; John (Breon McMullin), the future King John I; and Geoffrey (Dan Cleveland), Duke of Brittany.

Princess Alais (Marla Leahy), Henry's mistress who he hopes to marry, adds another layer of conflict to the situation. Additionally, her half-brother Philip (Tyler Duswell), who is French nobility and, incidentally, the son of Eleanor's ex-husband King Louis VII, is sure to add an opinion that suits his interests.

The play was written by James Goldwin and first performed in 1966. It is important to note that the play is merely based on historical events. 'It wasn't intended to upset history,' said Centers, 'but it's how he wrote it. It's about the relationships between the family members. They are what you would consider a dysfunctional family nowadays.'

The political maneuvering and plotting make it an interesting play for adults to watch as well as a challenging one for actors. 'It takes someone with experience and a lot of different facets to play the two lead characters,' said Centers. 'Jeanna and Scott are very talented. They're not just one-dimensional characters. The actors really had to dig down deep to find different places for all the different reactions and feelings.'

The play is billed as a comedy, but it's a whole lot deeper than just that, said Centers. This is a chance for Forest Grove theater-goers to chew on something a little more hearty than typical Theatre in the Grove fare.