Full casting has been announced for Promethean Theatre Ensemble’s production of James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter, according to Brian Pastor, director of this production and artistic director of the company. Leading the cast as King Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Acquitaine, the roles immortalized by Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn in the 1968 film version, will be Brian Parry and Elaine Carlson. Parry, a Jeff award winner for supporting actor in Redtwist’s Shining City, is a four-time Jeff Award nominee and recently earned raves for his portrayal of George in Redtwist’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf along with his roles in Redtwist’s Red and the currently playing The Drawer Boy. Parry has previously appeared with Promethean in The Lark. Carlson was a Jeff winner for Famous Door’s Salt of the Earth and was seen recently in Eclipse’s A Perfect Ganesh. She has performed previously with Promethean in Tiger at the Gates and A Study in Scarlet.
Appearing as Henry and Eleanor’s sons are Promethean ensemble members Jared Dennis (Richard), Nick Lake (Geoffrey) and Tom Murphy (John). The roles of King Philip of France and his half-sister Alais will be taken by Promethean Ensemble members Evan Johnson and Heather Smith.
Considered a modern-day classic, The Lion in Winter is James Goldman’s 1966 play about sibling rivalries, distribution of wealth and power, and the elusive quality of love. The play ultimately examines the question of legacy: what do we leave behind? These powerful figures will do just about anything to ensure that they live on past their time on earth, even if it means destroying their own family. A triumph of wit and wordplay, The Lion in Winter is perhaps best known for its 1968 movie adaptation, featuring a larger-than-life Peter O’Toole as Henry II and a stunning Katharine Hepburn in an Academy award-winning turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Hollywood has transformed many theatre scripts into huge film successes, and although The Lion in Winter is among those plays, it remains a classic of modern theatre as well. Goldman wrote that “The Lion in Winter was more than reprieved by the movie. It was transformed into a theatre work that has been performed all over the world.” The original stage cast included Robert Preston as Henry II, Rosemary Harris as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Christopher Walken as France’s Philip Capet. The film version of The Lion in Winter marked milestones in several careers: Goldman’s first and only Academy Award (for his screenplay adaptation) as well as a Golden Globe nomination; Katharine Hepburn’s third of four best actress Oscars; an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe Award for Peter O’Toole (best actor); the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film of 1968; Anthony Hopkins’s film debut playing Henry’s son, Prince Richard; and Timothy Dalton’s film debut as Prince Philip.
The production will be directed by Brian Pastor, Artistic Director of Promethean Theatre Ensemble and a nominee this year of a Broadway World award for his direction of The Winter’s Tale. Also on the creative team are costume designer Rachel Sypniewski (a Jeff Award-winner for Trap Door’s La Bête), Jeremy Garrett (set design), Jeremiah Barr* (properties design), Ben Sutherland (sound design), Jessica Fialko (lighting design), Catherine Gillespie** (dialect coach), Nicole Hand* (assistant director) and Alexa Berkowitz* (stage manager).
*Indicates PTE Ensemble Member **Indicates PTE Artistic Associate
BIOS James Goldman was born in Chicago on June 30, 1927. Four years later, his brother William (author and screenwriter of The Princess Bride) was born into the family. The two brothers would remain close, and eventually both became writers. In fact, the two wrote collaboratively for film, television, and theatre (A Family Affair, Stanley Poole). Both received Academy Awards for their screenwriting, but at separate times for separate films: James won for The Lion in Winter (1969) while William won for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1970) and All the President’s Men (1977). James collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on Evening Primrose (1966) and on Follies (1971). Goldman began writing Follies in 1965 as a murder mystery, but eventually took it to Broadway and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical (1971). The 1987 London revival of Follies garnered the Olivier Award for the year’s best musical.
Goldman distinguished himself as a writer in several genres, including novels (Myself as Witness, Waldorf, The Man from Greek and Roman, Fulton County), short stories (White Nights), theatre (The Lion in Winter; They Might Be Giants; Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole), television (Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna), film (The Lion in Winter,Nicholas and Alexandra, Robin and Marian, White Nights), and musical theater (Follies, Evening Primrose). At the time of his death, Goldman had just completed the script for a musical based on the novel Tom Jones. He died unexpectedly on October 28, 1998, after suffering a heart attack.
Brian Pastor has been Promethean’s Artistic Director since the summer of 2014. He is the Founding Executive Director of PTE and has also served as Box Office Manager. In 2015, Brian became the Executive Director at Raven Theatre after serving 10 and a half years on staff at City Lit Theater, including nine as Managing Director. He is also a former board and company member of The Mime Company and a founding company member of Chicago dell’Arte.
Brian is an experienced actor, adapter and director in Chicago, having worked on over 50 productions with at least a dozen different production companies since his graduation from Northwestern University. For Promethean, Brian has acted in 7 mainstage productions, most recently as Warwick in The Lark and as Dr. Watson in the Jeff-nominated A Study in Scarlet. He also directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry V and The Dark Side of the Bard for PTE.