Keach Rages Against the Storm in DC King Lear, With Odeh, Witt, Torres and More

News   Keach Rages Against the Storm in DC King Lear, With Odeh, Witt, Torres and More Stacy Keach returns to the Everest of Shakespeare roles, King Lear, June 16 with the first preview of the Washington, DC, premiere of Robert Falls' production.
Stacy Keach and Edward Gero in King Lear at Goodman Theatre in 2006.
Stacy Keach and Edward Gero in King Lear at Goodman Theatre in 2006. Photo by Liz Lauren

Seeking to place King Lear in "a very specific time and place," Falls chose war-torn 1990s Yugoslavia as the setting. Falls said in production notes, "I wanted to challenge myself into thinking about theatre and about life in a more immediate, contemporary, daring way."

Falls (Broadway's Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Desire Under the Elms) staged the tragedy starring Keach in 2006 at Goodman Theatre, where Falls is artistic director. Most of that cast returns to the 2009 production, now produced by The Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sidney Harman Hall. Most recently, Keach was Nixon in the 2008-09 national tour of Frost/Nixon.

Performances continue to July 19. Opening is June 22. (Meanwhile, Noel Coward's Design for Living plays at STC's Lansburgh Theatre to June 28.)

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According to STC, "Tony Award winner Robert Falls remounts his 2006 production, which captures both the stark violence and devastating passion of Shakespeare's masterpiece. Stacy Keach will play the title role, returning to STC for the first time since Macbeth in 1995." The cast includes Kim Martin-Cotton as Goneril, Kate Arrington Regan, Laura Odeh as Cordelia, Andrew Long as Albany, Chris Genebach as Cornwall, Aubrey Deeker as King of France, Edward Gero as Earl of Gloucester, Joaquin Torres as Edgar, Jonno Roberts as Edmund, Steve Pickering as Earl of Kent, Howard Witt as Fool, Dieterich Gray as Oswald, Hugh Nees as Old Man, Gary Neal Johnson as Knight, Conrad Feininger as Medic, David Blixt Captain, plus Norman Aronovic, Stacey Cabaj, Billy Finn, Dan Istrate, Dan Lawrence, William LeDent, Matthew B. Luceno, Brian MacDonald, Carol Randolph, Jeffrey Scott, Amanda Tudor, Scott Hamilton Westerman.

Keach has played many of Shakespeare's great roles, including Hamlet, Richard III, Falstaff, Coriolanus, Macbeth and Henry V. He is also known for his portrayal of Mickey Spillane's noir detective Mike Hammer on TV, and as Warden Henry Pope on the TV series "Prison Break." In 2006, Playbill magazine's Merv Rothstein asked the actor: Why Lear, and why now?

"I figured I'd better do Lear before I get too old, so I can still move up the mountain," Keach said. "I think the role of Lear is always sitting there, waiting to be addressed, and attacked, and absorbed into the actor's psyche, the actor's soul. I always equate it with a mountain because it probably provides more challenges, both emotionally and physically, than do most all of Shakespeare's roles. It poses challenges that modern theatrical roles don't possess — the concentration, the physical prowess, the stamina. It's like Hamlet, only the older version."

The creative team features Walt Spangler (set designer), Ana Kuzmanic (costume designer), Michael Philippi (lighting designer), Richard Woodbury (sound designer), Rick Sordelet (fight director), Ellen O'Brien (vocal coach), David Paul (assistant director), Hannah Todd (directorial assistant), Akiva Fox (literary associate), Lloyd Davis Jr. (stage manager), Benjamin Royer (assistant stage manager).

"One of the most powerful dramas in Western literature, King Lear is both an intimate family drama and an explosive political epic," according to STC. "Beginning with a monarch's division of his kingdom amongst his three daughters, Lear explores the most basic questions of human existence: love and duty, power and loss, good and evil."

Fore more information, visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.

Stacy Keach and Laura Odeh in <i>King Lear</i> at Goodman in 2006. They repeat their work for Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Stacy Keach and Laura Odeh in King Lear at Goodman in 2006. They repeat their work for Shakespeare Theatre Company. Photo by Liz Lauren