Happy Few: Liev Schreiber and His "Band of Brothers" Do Battle with Henry V in Central Park

News   Happy Few: Liev Schreiber and His "Band of Brothers" Do Battle with Henry V in Central Park The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival's new look at Shakespeare's Henry V begins its run at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre on June 26. Liev Schreiber plays the young, victorious English king.

The production was to have begun on June 24, but was delayed due to heavy rains, which have pushed back necessary technical rehearsals. It's been the wettest June on record for New York City. Sun and temperatures in the 80s graced the new tech days of June 23-24. Official opening is July 15.

Mark Wing-Davey directs the play, which continues to Aug. 10.

Henry V tells of the youthful English leader's rise to the throne and how, after casting off the profligate friends of his callow youth (including Falstaff), he vigorously assumes his new role and leads the English troops to a surprising victory over France at Agincourt, during the Hundred Years War.

The rousing and patriotic history play is often performed at times of war. Henry's famous "band of brothers" speech, in which he whips up the courage of his beleaguered and outnumbered troops, is particularly renowned for its sense of soldierly spirit and valor. However, certain interpretations (included Kenneth Branagh's 1989 film) have brought out the more gritty and disconcerting aspects of Shakespeare's depiction of warfare.

The cast also includes Bronson Pinchot, who appeared at the Delacorte in A Winter's Tale two summers ago and is famous for the television sitcom "Perfect Strangers." He'll play Pistol, one of Prince Hal's erstwhile drinking pals. Other cronies include Dan Moran as Nym and Tom Robbins as Bardolph. Mercedes Herrero is Mistress Quickly, Pistol's wife. Gregory Derelian and Steven Rattazzi are Scroop and Grey, conspirators against the King. Daniel Oreskes is his uncle, Exeter. On the French side of the battle are Martin Rayner as Charles the Sixth, Ryan Shively as the Dauphin, and Nicole Leach as Katherine, the King's daughter, soon to be Henry's wife.

Also in the cast are Arie Thompson, Orlando Pabotoy, Ryan McCarthy, Peter Gerety, Gbenga Akinnagbe, David Costabile, John Dalton, Adam Dannheisser, Colman Domingo, Mark Gerald Douglas, David Flaherty and Rob Gallavan.

Mark Wendland will conceive the sets. Gabriel Berry will lead the cast into battle costumes. David Weiner is lighting designer and Acme Sound Partners handles the sound design. John Gromada will compose some original music.

Tickets are free and will be available on the day of the performance (two per person) at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park beginning at 1 PM and at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street (near Astor Place), from 1 PM to 3 PM. The closest entrances to The Delacorte are at 81st Street and Central Park West or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

For additional information about Shakespeare in Central Park, call (212) 539-8750 or visit The Public Theater web site at www.publictheater.org.

*

By playing the young king, Schreiber continues his long artistic relationship with the Public Theater, where he has previously taken on three leading Shakespearean parts, winning critical praise for each performance (even when the production was not applauded). They were: Iachimo in Cymbeline in 1998, also in the park (for which he won an Obie Award); Hamlet in 1999; and Iago in Othello in 2001. He worked with director Andrei Serban on the first two, Doug Hughes on the last.

In between his classical roles, Schreiber found time to appear in Harold Pinter's Betrayal on Broadway and the premiere of Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat Off-Broadway at MCC Theatre. Recently, he was in discussions to play Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at New York Theatre Workshop. The production did not materialize.

*

As with last year, the Delacorte Theater season will be cut down from two plays to only one play, albeit a single staging with a longer run than usual. Last year's attraction was Twelfth Night, with Julia Stiles and Oliver Platt.