The Classical Theater of Harlem, which has garnered new attention with its every production, will no doubt win more fans with its latest offering: King Lear starring vet actors Paul Butler and Arthur French. The production will run July 10-Aug. 4 at the HSA Courtyard Theatre in uptown Manhattan.
Butler was part of the award-winning cast of August Wilson's Jitney, which played Off-Broadway a few seasons ago. He will play the vain, foolhardy title regent, who cruelly excludes his one faithful daughter when dividing up his kingdom. French, meanwhile, has acted on and Off-Broadway for more than 40 years (The Iceman Cometh, Death of a Salesman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), including some roles in past CTH ventures. He will play Gloucester, another misguided father whose story parallels Lear's.
Director Alfred Preisser, no doubt taking a large pair of editing scissors to the Bard's most dauntingly long tragedy, will somehow get audiences in and out of the theatre in two hours.
CTH's 2001 staging of Richard Wright's Native Son by Christopher McElroen won a positive notice from the New York Times and the attention of commercial producers. That same year, the troupe won an Obie Award.
Tickets are $15. To reach the playing space, take the A, B, C, or D train to 145th Street and walk 1/4 of a block south to the HSA Courtyard Theatre. Order tickets online at smarttix.com or call (212) 206-1515. —By Robert Simonson