Shakespeare’s Henry V: A Young King Leads the Original Band of Brothers into Battle
Center Valley, PA—A ‘muse of fire’ ignites Shakespeare’s royal tale of England’s celebrated King in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of Henry V on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing arts on the campus of DeSales University.
The production previews July 16 and 17, opens July 18 and continues through August 2 in repertory with Larry Shue’s American comedy, The Foreigner.
On the battlefield, a young King Henry rallies his soldiers “unto the breach.” Shakespeare’s masterwork celebrates the power of language to shape destiny as it explores the enigmatic morality of leadership: At what cost to his land, his subjects and his conscience does Henry pursue the glories of his nation and his reign?
Henry V opens with Chorus, a single character who narrates, played by Greg Wood, a PSF veteran of twenty seasons:
O, for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
“What intrigues me in this epic tale of British history is that Shakespeare strips down to the bare essentials: the characters’ journey and what makes them flawed human beings,” says PSF veteran director Matt Pfeiffer, who directed last season’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Shakespeare explores the humanity in the relationships on the battlefield, though all the actual fighting and bloodshed is offstage.
Zack Robidas plays the young king Henry, now past his party days and planning for war. Despite being vastly outnumbered by the French army, Henry leads his men to conquer France and considers marrying the French princess Katherine, portrayed by Marnie Schulenburg. (Both Robidas and Schulenburg are long-time PSF actors and married in real life.)
Jane Ridley joins the cast as Alice, a servant to Katherine, and also portrays Hostess Quickly, the keeper of the Boar’s Head Tavern in London, married to Pistol, a commoner who joins the fight for England, played by William Zielinksi.
Anthony Lawton portrays multiple characters including the powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, who urges Henry to claim the French throne; Lord Scroop, who’s bribed by the French to kill Henry and Captain Fluellen, Henry’s quirky but loyal fellow strategist.
Henry’s uncle and trusted advisor, Exeter, who carries important messages to the King of France is played by Wayne S. Turney. Unlike his son, Louis the Dauphin, played by Jacob Dresch, The King of France does not underestimate Henry’s power. Carl N. Wallnau is double cast as both the King of France and Bardolph, a former friend from Henry’s wild youth.
Dan Hodge appears in multiple roles as the Earl of Cambridge, the Constable of France, and as Michael Williams, a common soldier who King Henry, in disguise, meets the night before the history-making Battle of Agincourt.
The cast also includes Akeem Davis and David Scheffler as Bedford and Westmoreland, respectively.
Bob Phillips has designed a formidable ‘half-wooden O,’ in honor of the playing space of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre, though not an actual historic representation. The costumes inspired by the period of the play are designed by Sam Fleming.
Alex J. Bechtel has composed original music and also serves as sound designer and musical director. J. Alex Cordaro is fight director and Alison Hassman is production stage manager.
Production sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan. Co-sponsors ate The Rider-Pool Foundation and David B. and Patrina L. Rothrock.
Henry V is performed in repertory with The Foreigner (through August 2). Performances of Henry V are:
Preview: Thu., July 16th, 8pm
Preview: Fri., July 17th, 8pm
Opening: Sat., July 18th, 8pm
Sun., July 19th, 7:30pm
Tue., July 21st, 7pm
Thu., July 23rd, 8pm
Sat., July 25th, 2pm
Wed., July 29th, 8pm
Fri., July 31st, 8pm
Sat., Aug. 1st, 8pm
Sun., Aug. 2nd, 2pm
The Festival also features Pericles (July 22 through August 2), Rapunzel (through August 1), and Shakespeare for Kids (July 22 through August 1). Also, Jeremiah James will perform a special concert, Choose Love, on Monday, July 27 at 7:30pm on the Main Stage. James recently played Javert in PSF’s record-breaking production of Les Misérables.
Amaranth Foundation is the 2015 season sponsor. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, Dr. James and Penny Pantano, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a professional company in residence at DeSales University, is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations.
PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.
For tickets, call 610.282.WILL  or go online to www.pashakespeare.org.