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Sun, Jan. 26

<i>The Lion in Winter</i>

VVN/Dean H. Borgwardt

BEN Jayston threatens Tricia Greer in Canyon Moon's production of The Lion in Winter.

Canyon Moon Theatre presents the enduring classic The Lion in Winter, starting Jan. 27 and playing through Feb. 13.

On this particular Noel, succession to Henry’s throne eclipses traditional holiday cheer as the focus of events at the castle. Naturally, Henry and Eleanor favor different sons, with the third son, Geoffrey, promoting his own cause in a series of intrigues. Eleanor arrives at the castle, Chinon, after being released from prison where Henry has been keeping her to counter her plots against him. When young King Philip arrives to demand that Henry honor a treaty made with his deceased father, the stage is set for a political and social chess game with England, France and Henry’s young princess/mistress as the battleground. Coexisting with the maneuvering, backstabbing and plotting is the formidable love and hatred between Henry and Eleanor.

Before becoming an Oscar-winning film in 1968, this compelling story by James Goldman was a Broadway play. It also won at the British Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. The fascination audiences have with Lion led to its being restaged on Broadway starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing and, recently, to being remade by Hallmark Entertainment for Showtime.

Mary G. Guaraldi, producing artistic director of Canyon Moon Theatre, leads the production team bringing life to The Lion. Charles Carter’s set for Suds created a pink and purple Laundromat world of fun and music. The challenge for Lion was quite different.

“The set design challenge for this show was the task of creating six different locations in a medieval castle on our intimate stage within our budget confines. And he has done it in a way that will, I think, surprise our audiences!” commented Guaraldi.

Lyrica Tyree’s lighting designs have been seen on the CMTC stage for Proof and I Hate Hamlet. She is currently a theater major at Northern Arizona University.

The cast for The Lion in Winter brings together a diverse group of actors whose passion for the play translates directly to the stage. Gerard Maguire, Henry, has been a leading actor in his native Australia since graduation from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. In addition to performing with the Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies, Maguire has also appeared on London’s West End and has had an extensive career in film and television. CMTC audiences have applauded his performances in ‘Art’ and I Hate Hamlet.

Maguire takes his role as King Henry II seriously and, like other cast members, has extensively researched the character as well as the history of the era.

“Find the character you’re playing from inside yourself,” the veteran actor explained during a recent rehearsal.

He was attracted to this classic play because it offers strong parts for all the actors, it’s historically interesting, and the family dynamics still ring true today, he offered.

Tricia Greer, Eleanor, played Amanda in CMTC's memorable production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. An accomplished actress, Greer has performed with Southwest Theatre Company and several theatres in the Dallas area. She recently appeared on the CMTC stage as Claire in Proof.

Greer jumped at the opportunity to play Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine because, “It’s a juicy part…really something I can sink my teeth into,” she said of her scheming character.

This native Texan believes audiences can relate to the problems that this dysfunctional family faced in 1183 AD with those we face today.

“Families have the same challenges,” Greer said.

Guaraldi agrees, which is why she selected The Lion in Winter for the Main Stage.

“It’s a blend of comedy and drama…like real life. It’s the kind of play I love doing,” she explained. “It’s well written and has strong characters.”

Ben Jayston appears as Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor’s favorite whose drive to become King stands at the center of the conflict between Eleanor and Henry. Ben has performed both in his native England and in Massachusetts. He was last seen at CMTC as Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Jeff Shipper, Geoffrey, made his debut on the Canyon Moon stage as Hal in CMTC’s acclaimed production of Proof, participated in the insanity of The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and kept audiences laughing as Lady Enid and Nicodemus in The Mystery of Irma Vep. He recently appeared in two episodes of the Travel Channel’s hit show "Weird Travels."

Shaphan Seiders-Porter, King Philip, has previously performed in such shows as Wit, An Inspector Calls and The Miracle Worker. He created mayhem this summer as another member of the talented trio that brought The Compleat Works… to the Canyon Moon stage.

Both Bryson Griffin and Leah B. Baggao are making their debut at CMTC. Leah has experience in film and theater work, most notably in the short film Curry Cookies with the Zaki Gordon Film Institute. Bryson’s experience ranges from roles with CMTC’s Advanced Acting Academy to musicals at Red Rock High School to a television commercial currently playing in Northern Arizona.

The Lion in Winter is your last chance to become a Canyon Moon Theatre Company subscriber for Season VII. Main Stage Series subscriptions cost $45 for adults and $32 for full-time students. Splinter Series tickets are $30 for two shows. Your best choice: purchase a season subscription to both the Main Stage and Splinter Series for $70 and see five exciting Canyon Moon productions.

General admission tickets are $17; full-time students are $10. Tickets for Wednesday, Feb. 9, and all Thursday performances are $13.

For more information or to reserve your tickets for The Lion in Winter, call Canyon Moon Theatre Company at (928) 282-6212 or on the Web at http://www.canyonmoontheatre.org

Tickets are also available at Rycus Corners in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona Books and Music in the Bashas' Shopping Center.

Subscribe to the Canyon Moon e-mail list so that you never miss a production or a poetry slam or a special event. To subscribe, call Canyon Moon at (928) 282-6212.

CMTC is a professional non-profit theater that serves the Northern Arizona community and its guests. It is located in the Old Marketplace, 1370 W. Arizona 89A, near New Frontiers in West Sedona.

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