Center Valley, PA— Following last season’s King Richard II, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents the next chapter of Shakespeare’s epic cycle with Henry IV, Part 1. The production will continue the tradition of concluding the season with “Extreme Shakespeare,” in the Schubert Theatre on July 24 through August 4 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.
The irrepressible Falstaff, the prodigal Prince Hal, and the rebellious Hotspur navigate the shifting sands of allegiance in King Henry IV’s England. Honor is at stake as commoners and kings, folly and duty collide in Shakespeare’s richly layered coming-of-age tale. Prince Hal is called upon to emerge from the raucous hilarity of Falstaff and his antics at the Boar’s Head Tavern to the valor of the battlefield, to earn his place as the next great ruler of this “sceptered isle.”
In the “Extreme Shakespeare” tradition, this production will be rehearsed akin to the way Shakespeare’s company would have—actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find, and open in a matter of days. No director, no designers. Just great actors, a brilliant play, and pure adrenaline, spontaneity, and creativity.
John Ahlin returns to perform the wildly comedic and insightful Sir John Falstaff. Ahlin, who played the role in the Festival’s 2005 production, has a long history in the Festival’s Shakespeare productions, including Twelfth Night, King John, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. His Broadway credits include Waiting for Godot, Journey’s End, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee!, and Macbeth.
John Keabler will play King Henry IV, who must quash rebellion from his enemies foreign and domestic while trying to steer his son, Prince Hal, away from the influence of fallen knight Sir John Falstaff. Keabler was last seen in the Festival’s 2017 productions of The Three Musketeers and As You Like It. Other regional credits include performances at Shakespeare Theatre Company of DC, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Old Globe, and Portland Stage.
“While the spirit of ‘Extreme Shakespeare’ echoes what we believe to be the original rehearsal practices of Shakespeare’s company, this year’s cast will flip another Elizabethan tradition on its head with women playing a number of roles that were written as men,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director.
Mairin Lee will return to PSF in the role of Prince Hal, and Kathryn Tkel will make her PSF debut in the role of Hotspur. Hal and Hotspur both represent a new generation of prospective rulers, and each navigate their future and potential leadership in King Henry IV’s England.
“While women (in this case excellent actresses) playing the roles of rising leaders was a driver in this casting choice, this is not a new idea. How did men playing women illuminate the text in the original Shakespeare productions of these plays?” asks Mulcahy. “How will women playing roles written as men do the same in this production? Come join us to find out.”
Lee, who starred as Viola de Lesseps in Shakespeare in Love last season, played the title role in PSF’s 2017 “Extreme Shakespeare” production of Troilus and Cressida. Her other credits include PSF’s Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, and last season’s King Richard II; Broadway’s The Heiress; and Off-Broadway performances at Cherry Lane Theatre, Ars Nova, Wheelhouse Theater and The Actors Company Theatre; and regionally at McCarter Theatre, Two River Theater, and American Conservatory Theater.
Tkel, making her debut at the Festival, has been seen regionally at numerous theatres including Ford’s Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, California Conservatory Theatre, Perseverance Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse. She received her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting.
Joining them in the cast, are Jane Ridley (Mistress Quickley and Westmoreland) who was in the 2005 production of Henry V and has performed regionally at Shakespeare Theatre Company of DC, The Old Globe, Walnut Street Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and Round House Theatre; and Brandon J. Pierce (Blunt and Sheriff) whose credits include PSF’s Troilus and Cressida and The Taming of the Shrew, Off-Broadway’s Exit Strategy at Primary Stages, and regionally at People’s Light, Arden Theatre Company, Delaware Theatre Company, and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
Including this season’s Antony and Cleopatra and Henry IV, Part 1, the Festival has produced 30 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays.
Subscription packages and single tickets can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the PSF box office at 610.282.WILL .
The production stage manager for Henry IV, Part 1 is Maggie Davis and Michael Depp-Hutchinson is the assistant stage manager.
The Production Sponsor is Amaranth Foundation and the Production Co-sponsor is Lutron.
The 2019 Festival Season Sponsor is Valerie Moritz Smith. 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 professional theatre company at DeSales University, PSF features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and other major theatre awards, from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and around the country.
Summer 2019 Season:
Main Stage: Crazy for You (June 12 to June 30), Antony and Cleopatra (July 10 to Aug 4), Private Lives (July 18 to Aug 4), Shakespeare for Kids (July 24 to Aug 3).
Schubert Theatre: The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian (May 31 to Aug 3), The Mystery of Irma Vep (June 20 to July 14), Henry IV, Part 1 (July 24 to Aug 4).
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 was 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, Playbill.com, 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 27 years, PSF has offered 168 total productions (72 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 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.
PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a doubling of annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.
John Ahlin (Falstaff) Broadway: Waiting for Godot, Journey’s End (Tony Award Best Revival), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee!, and Macbeth. Off-Broadway: Orson’s Shadow, A Man for All Seasons, and ChipandGus. Regional: DC Shakespeare, Guthrie, Kennedy Center, La Jolla, Denver Center, St. Louis Rep, Pittsburgh Public, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Old Globe, Goodman, and Goodspeed. TV/Film: Law and Order, Late Night with David Letterman, Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers). Playwright: Gray Area, ChipandGus, Nem, and My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories.
John Keabler (King Henry) This is his 2nd season with PSF. He was last seen in The Three Musketeers and As You Like It. Other credits: The Shakespeare Theatre of DC, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, Perserverance Theatre, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Portland Stage, Virginia Stage, Florida Studio Theatre.
Mairin Lee (Prince Hal) has appeared at PSF in Shakespeare in Love, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, Pride and Prejudice, and Hamlet. She made her Broadway debut in The Heiress, and has appeared Off-Broadway at Cherry Lane, Ars Nova, Wheelhouse Theater, and The Actors Company Theatre, among others. She has performed regionally with McCarter, Two River, American Conservatory Theater, Premiere Stages, and many more. Her TV credits include Madam Secretary, Elementary, and The Good Wife, and she has appeared in the films Marcy, Zero Issue, and Ascension. She holds an MFA from A.C.T.
Brandon J. Pierce (Blunt, Sheriff) Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy (Primary Stages). Regional: Skeleton Crew (Portland Stage), Sweat (People’s Light), Welcome to Fear City (KC Rep); PSF: Shakespeare in Love, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, and The Taming of the Shrew; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Metamorphoses (Arden Theatre Company); The City of Conversation (Delaware Theater Company); Dutch Masters (Azuka Theatre); Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare LIVE! – The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey). Education: BFA, University of the Arts.
Jane Ridley (Mistress Quickly, Westmoreland) Last seen on the Main Stage as Mistress Quickly and Lady Alice in Henry V, Jane’s recent regional experience includes: Private Lives (Shakespeare Theatre, DC); Importance of Being Earnest (Old Globe, San Diego); Sherlock’s Last Case (Huntington, Boston); and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia).
Kathryn Tkel (Hotspur) Regional credits: Ford’s Theatre, Folger Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Round House, Olney Theatre Center, Rep Stage, Mosaic Theatre Company, Everyman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Perseverance Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, San Jose Rep, San Francisco Playhouse, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Willows Theatre Company, California Conservatory Theatre, among others. She received her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting.
Maggie Davis (Production Stage Manager) is back at PSF for a fourth season. Stage and production management credits include: King Lear, Awake & Sing!, Oliver!, Julius Caesar, and The Wild Duck (Quintessence Theatre Group); Yours, Anne, among other productions (Half Moon Theatre); Seven seasons with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Christmas Rappings (Judson Memorial Church); Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Florida/Texas Tour); Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Tribes, and Hit the Wall (Barrow Street Theatre); Measure for Measure (Fiasco/New Victory Theater).
Michael Depp-Hutchinson (Assistant Stage Manager) Most recently he has worked with Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia; and Pilobolus Dance Theatre, International/Domestic Touring.