Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Lion in Winter
Firehouse Theater Company: 4/4 – 5/2

  L-R: Andrew Uhlenhopp and Emma Messenger (Photo credit to Ed Berry)

     “The Lion in Winter,” James Goldman’s melodramatic medieval soap opera, is one of my favorite plays. The playwright’s wordplay is delightful to the ear and often devastating to the funny bone. Beyond that it all boils down to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine duking it out over which of their three sons will be the eventual successor to the throne of England. Henry wants John and Eleanor wants Richard. Geoffrey, the middle son, tries with all his calculating heart to get noticed and fails miserably.
     Director Rick Bernstein gives us a production that’s a real theatrical treat.
     Emma Messenger’s Eleanor commands the stage with a fiery passion and sparkling wit. This actor, who took the Henry for her portrayal of Mag in “The Beauty Queen of Linnane” last season, is Emma-nently watchable.
     Andrew Uhlenhopp’s Henry is brash and bullish and bellows from curtain to curtain. Mr. Uhlenhopp is one of the local actors who is not afraid of the grandeur of his voice onstage. That’s a good thing. One does, however, wish that the volume be modulated a bit at first. Otherwise there’s nowhere to go when the amperage needs to be turned up as subsequent scenes require it.

L-R foreground: Andrew Uhlenhopp and Jeff Jesmer. 
L-R background: Danielle Vivarttas and Emma Messenger with Photo Credit to Ed Berry

     Besides his strong and memorable acting in the role of Richard, Jeffrey Jesmer also created the very fine set describing the castle at Chinon in which this leonine pride is celebrating Christmas. Jonathan Hallowell does well appearing intentionally pathetic as John. Thomas Jennings’ Geoffrey is appropriately cool and conniving.
     His Nordic good looks aside, Drew Hirschboeck’s portrayal of the French Prince Philip as consummate strategist is delicious. Danielle Vivarttas pouts beautifully as Henry’s mistress, Alais.
     The costumes by Lisa DeVeux are some of the best to have been seen so far this season.
Firehouse Theater Company presents
“The Lion in Winter”
King Henry II goes head-to-head with wife Eleanor in a battle to secure England’s next King.
Apr. 4 - May 2
Fri./Sat. @ 7:30 p.m.; Sun., @ 6:30 p.m.
John Hand Theater/Colorado Free University, 7653 East First Place, Denver, CO      Marlowe's Musings                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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