Renowned Actor Christian Coulson Plays Title Role in King Richard II at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Christian Coulson, a featured actor in the Harry Potter film series, will play the title role in William Shakespeare’s epic King Richard II in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production which previews July 19 and 20, and opens July 21. Performed on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University, King Richard II continues through August 5.

Coulson is a British actor who is most recognized for his role as Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Other notable film credits include The Hours (starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman), Love is Strange, and the upcoming Bite Me. Television credits include recurring roles on Nashville, and Mozart in the Jungle, as well as Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, and Gossip Girl

Coulson’s classical theatre credits include performances at such prestigious venues as The Old Globe in San Diego, McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, as well as
National Tours and West End productions. Off-Broadway credits include The Changeling and Everything You Touch.

In addition to his role as King Richard, Coulson can be seen as Lord Wessex in the Festival’s production of Shakespeare in Love, which plays in repertory with King Richard II through August 5.

Convinced of his divine right to rule, King Richard acts recklessly and provides the canny Henry Bolingbroke an opening to seize the crown. Filled with magnificent verse and Shakespeare’s singular wisdom and insight, King Richard II is a deeply moving and illuminating portrait of how the forces of history collide to set in motion a dynastic civil war that lasts 100 years. King Richard II is the first chapter in Shakespeare’s epic cycle of history plays chronicling the wars that shaped the nation’s political landscape. In coming seasons, PSF will produce the next two chapters: Henry IV, Parts I and II. 

As the Festival continues its ambitious progression through the canon, King Richard II will be the 30th of Shakespeare’s 38 plays PSF has produced.

The production will be helmed by director and Broadway actress Gina Lamparella. Lamparella’s acting credits include the Broadway productions of The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, Imaginary Friends, Jane Eyre, and Les Miserables. For PSF: Thaisa in Pericles and Miranda in The Tempest. PSF directing credits include Beauty and the Beast; the Linny Fowler WillPower tours of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet; and associate director of The Taming of the Shrew. She has also directed in New York and Florence, Italy.

“This play is immediate, dangerous, and challenging,” says Lamparella. “I like that the answers aren’t all spelled out for you. King Richard II is open-ended and it can lead to some great conversations on the way home: Who do we choose as our leader? What qualities do we want in our leaders? Then when we’re unhappy with what we’ve chosen, where do we go from there?”

Included in the cast are Justin Adams as the pragmatic and capable Bolingbroke, Richard’s cousin (who eventually is crowned King Henry); Starla Benford as the Duchess of York; Brandon Edward Burton as Willoughby; Christopher Coucill as Gaunt; Mairin Lee as the Queen; Christopher Patrick Mullen as Northumberland; Brandon J. Pierce as Aumerle; Luigi Sottile as Mowbray; Jo Twiss as Duchess of Gloucester; Wayne S. Turney as York; and Richard B. Watson in multiple roles.

King Richard II previews, 8pm, July 19 – 20. Opening night is Saturday, July 21 at 8pm. Single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th season also features the stage adaptation of Shakespeare in Love, in repertory with King Richard II, and an actor-driven “Extreme Shakespeare” production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well.

Now through August 4, children’s programming continues in the Schubert Theatre with Alice in Wonderland and, celebrating its ten-year anniversary, PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids: a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. Presented on the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

For one night only, Dan Domenech returns to PSF after a successful run in last summer’s hit Evita for Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond, a showcase of songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theater fame on Monday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for King Richard II is Amaranth Foundation.

The season will run thru August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 177 total productions (75 Shakespeare), and entertained 850,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.

ACTOR BIOS:

*MEMBER OF ACTOR’S EQUITY ASSOCIATION

CHRISTIAN COULSON* (King Richard) Theater: Constellations (The Old Globe), The Changeling (Red Bull Theatre), Everything You Touch (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Hedda Gabler (Palimpsest, London), A Picture of Autumn (Mint Theater), Travesties (McCarter), Dutch Masters (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Rumble Ghost (PS122), Ghosts (London’s Gate Theatre), Festen (UK national tour), Journey’s End (West End), Romeo and Juliet (Liverpool Playhouse). Film: Bite Me, Peter & John, Love is Strange, Those Who Wander, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Gayby, Leaving Circadia, I am Nasrine, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Hours, Four Feathers. TV: Nashville, Mozart in the Jungle, Eye Candy, Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Miss Marple, Charles II, Little Britain, Hornblower, Forsyte Saga, Love in a Cold Climate.

JUSTIN ADAMS* (Bolingbroke) New York: Don Juan (title role), The Pearl Theatre; The Little Shubert, The Acting Company, Drama League’s DirectorFest, HERE Studios, 13th Street Rep, Storm Theatre. Regional: Nicholas Nickleby, (title role), PlayMakers Rep; Amadeus (title role), Northern Stage; Hamlet (title role), PSF; Westport Country Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, Denver Center, Folger Theatre, Portland Stage, Clarence Brown Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Alabama and Texas Shakespeare Festivals; Film/TV: Elementary, The Affair, Unforgettable, Blue Bloods, The Cask, Independence: Beyond What She Expects, Radio Cape Cod. Training: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

STARLA BENFORD* (Duchess of York) Broadway/Off-Broadway: The Little Foxes (MTC), A Streetcar Named Desire (Studio 54), Macbeth (Music Box), The Vagina Monologues (National Tour/League of Broadway Theatre/Best Actress nomination), Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature Theatre);  Other: Old Globe, Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, Yale Rep, ART, Shakespeare & Co., Folger Theatre, Abbey Theatre in Ireland; Film/TV: Half Nelson, Delivery Man, A Perfect Murder, United 93, Law & Order, Person of Interest, Nurse Jackie, Madame Secretary, and The Affair.

BRANDON EDWARD BURTON (Willoughby) is a rising second-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where his credits include The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Other credits: Mud (Yale Cabaret), Angel Food Cake (Strange Sun Theatre), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Gallery Players), and Macbeth (PSF). Brandon’s voice can be heard as part of The Green Book Project and Middle Passage Exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. He holds a BA in Education and Japanese from Coe College.

CHRISTOPHER COUCILL* (John of Gaunt/Gardner). PSF: Man of La Mancha, King Lear, 1776, Hamlet, Sweeney Todd; Broadway: The Graduate, Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun; Philadelphia: Body Awareness (The Wilma), Crazy for You (The Forrest), Annie Get Your Gun (The Prince), Silverhill (InterAct); Regional: McCarter, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Shakespeare & Company, The Huntington, Boston Shakespeare Company, Dallas Theatre Center, and many others; TV: Deadline, Law & Order, One Life to Live, O Pioneers!, Margaret Mead: An Observer Observed.

MAIRIN LEE* (Queen) has performed at PSF in Troilus and Cressida, Pride and Prejudice, and Hamlet. Broadway: The Heiress; Off-Broadway: The Actors Company Theatre, Ars Nova, Wheelhouse Theatre, NY Classical; Regional: American Conservatory Theater, McCarter, Two River, Wilma, Premiere Stages, and California Shakespeare Theater, among others; TV: Madam SecretaryThe Good Wife, Elementary; Film: Marcy, Ascension, Zero Issue, and Mortem Di Virgo. MFA from A.C.T. This fall she is co-producing Romeo and Juliet in Oakland, CA. rjoakland.com

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN* (Northumberland) Work with PSF since 1992 includes Loves Labours Lost, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Charleys Aunt, Hamlet, The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, Dracula…, and 20 other productions; Other credits include West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway); Cabaret, Metamorphoses, Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, and Assassins (Arden Theatre). He is a member of Retro Productions (NYC) and a People’s Light veteran of over 30 productions since 1989. TV: Law & Order.

BRANDON J. PIERCE* (Aumerle) Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy (Primary Stages); Regional: Welcome to Fear City (KC Rep), Troilus and Cressida, The Taming of the Shrew (PSF), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Metamorphoses, Peter PanCharlottes Web (Arden Theatre), The City of Conversation (Delaware Theater), Dutch Masters (Azuka Theatre), Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare LIVE! – The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), Fair Maid of the West (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective); Education: BFA University of the Arts.

LUIGI SOTTILE* (Mowbray, Salisbury) was last seen at PSF in Troilus And Cressida (Hector) and The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Valentine). A PA native and current Chicago resident, some credits include: The Book of Will (Northlight Theatre); Shakespeare in Love, Othello, The Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare); Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); The Cherry Orchard, Nathan The Wise (People’s Light); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden); Angels In America Parts I & II, In The Next Room Or The Vibrator Play (Wilma); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); The Lonesome West, Hothouse (Lantern); and The Mystery of Irma Vep (Act II Playhouse). Other regional: The Way of the World (Folger Theatre); Zombie: The American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex With Strangers (Signature Theatre, DC); Three Musketeers, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Fest.); and A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Rep).

JO TWISS* (Duchess of Gloucester/Carlisle) She has been seen here most notably in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Recent credits include the musicals: The Producers and the world premiere of Lights Out, Nat King Cole. Jo was on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and can be seen most recently on TV in The Affair, Seven Seconds, House of Cards and the pigeon lady in The Amazing Kimmy Schmidt.

WAYNE S. TURNEY* (York) is a Professor with the theatre faculty at DeSales University, where he directed the recent production of his own “transladaptation” of Sophokles’ Elektra. A regular with PSF, Turney came to do Argan in The Imaginary Invalid and stayed on to play myriad old men, most recently Exeter in Henry V. Turney has appeared with the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Actors’ Summit, Cleveland Play House, Actors Theatre of Louisville and many others. He won an Emmy for his work on NBC’s Hickory Hideout and piloted EC-135’s in the USAF.

RICHARD B. WATSON* (Ross, Abbot, Exton) Favorite roles: John Adams, 1776, Dr. Carrasco, Man of La Mancha; Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady; Zach, A Chorus Line. Theaters: Orlando, Hampton, Georgia, and Milwaukee Shakespeare Companies, Arkansas Rep, Ensemble Studio Theater, Irish Rep, Asolo Rep, Pioneer, American Stage, The Muny and Disney World. Shakespeare: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Henry VIII, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, King John, Hamlet, King Lear, Pericles, Othello, Winter’s Tale, Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus. Film/TV: PS, I Love You; Law & Order CI; Delocated; Onion Sports Network; Art=(Love)²; and a pilot, Powerless, for FX. MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting.

CREATIVE TEAM:

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director; Director, Shakespeare in Love) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the quadrupling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut St. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Julius Caesar (2016), Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University.

DANIEL CONWAY (Scenic Designer) Recent projects include: Penn and Teller on Broadway; Queens for a Year, for Hartford Stage; Jelly’s Last Jam for Signature Theatre; The Tempest for American Repertory Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, and South Coast Repertory theatres; Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike for Arena Stage; American Song, for Milwaukee Rep; The Games Afoot for the Cleveland Playhouse; Company, Hairspray, Chess, and Sunset Boulevard for The Signature Theatre; Sabrina Fair for Ford’s Theatre and Merry Wives of Windsor for The Shakespeare Theatre. Nominated for Washington, D.C’s Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Set Design thirteen times, he received the award in 2000, 2009, 2015 and most recently in 2017 for Stunning, for Woolly Mammoth Theatre. His design for The Tempest was nominated for the Boston and L.A. Theatre Critics Award.

EMILY J. BAVER* (Assistant Stage Manager) Some favorite PSF credits include: Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Little Mermaid, and Troilus and Cressida. NYC: Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Thank You Notes, An Unexpected Thing Happens, and The Bishops; Tour: Hamlet; Regional: White (World Premiere, Theatre Horizon), and multiple works with Delaware Theatre Company including: Something Wicked (Neil Bartram and Brian Hill).

ALEX CORDARO (Fight Director) Other PSF credits: Caesar, Henry V, Fiddler, As You Like It, Othello, and Shrew; Regional credits include: McCarter, Wilma, The Actors Theatre, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, PSF, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theatre Exile, Inis Nua, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Alex is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors.

OLIVERA GAJIC (Costume Designer) was featured in the US National Exhibit at the 2004 & 2007 Prague Quadrennial; Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance (Lincoln Center). She is the recipient of a NEA-TCG Design Award, IT Award, TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, Barrymore Award and Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design. Olivera has 150+ theater, opera, dance and film productions to her credit. She extensively designs at the esteemed Juilliard School, Trinity Rep, and Arden. At PSF she designed The Little Mermaid and The Taming of the Shrew. USA local 829

ERIC T. HAUGEN (Lighting Designer) in recent seasons, has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: Evita, West Side Story, Les Misérables, Fiddler, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, King Lear, Amadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others. His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Eric’s Orlando based company, Luminous Design Studios, provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide.

ALISON HASSMAN* (Production Stage Manager) New York: Hamilton, The Nutcracker (New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center), Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, A Gentleman and His Ladies (Roundabout, with Alan Cumming), Cherry Lane, Westside Theatre, 59E59, the York, 24 Hour Play Company. Regional: Resident Stage Manager at Delaware Theatre Company. McCarter, Two River, Theater Horizon, Trinity Rep, Bristol Riverside, Premiere Stages, Philadelphia Theatre Company.

GINA LAMPARELLA (Director) PSF credits: Beauty and the Beast; the Linny Fowler WillPower Tours of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet; and associate director of The Taming of the Shrew. Gina’s acting work includes the Broadway productions of The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, Imaginary Friends, Jane Eyre, and Les Misérables; For PSF: Thaisa in Pericles and Miranda in The Tempest.

WILLIAM NEAL (Sound Designer) He has designed over 50 productions, including original Off-Broadway productions of Daniel’s Husband, Small World, The Little Prince, and Drop Dead Perfect. Regional favorites include Boeing-Boeing, Buyer & Cellar, Talley’s Folly, Outside Mullingar, God of Carnage, The Three Musketeers, The 39 Steps, and five seasons at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival designing Othello, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and many others. Member: USA 829 and Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association.

Questions? Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org