Just as New York City has Shakespeare in the Park, Boston has Shakespeare on the Common. The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents Rent's Anthony Rapp in the Bard's Henry V July 19-Aug. 4 as this year's free mainstage production. Commonwealth artistic director Steven Maler directs.
Set after Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V finds young Prince Hal all grown up and distanced from Falstaff and the other playmates of his reckless youth. Once the irresponsible child, Henry has now become a great leader, laying claim to and winning lands in France. Through epic battles the play illustrates the pains and losses of war. Henry V was made into two famous films: Laurence Olivier's in 1944 and Kenneth Branagh's in 1989.
Rapp was familiar with the latter screen version but not the original text when Maler proposed the idea to the Illinois-born actor in April. After reading the Bard's history, he signed on to the production. Rapp originated the role of Mark in Jonathan Larson's Rent and has been on Broadway in the revival of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Six Degrees of Separation and Precious Sons. He recently starred in his brother Adam Rapp's Nocturne at Berkeley Rep. His film credits include "A Beautiful Mind," "Adventures in Babysitting," "Road Trip," "Dazed and Confused" and "Six Degrees of Separation." Rapp also recently released a CD of original music, entitled "Look Around."
The cast for Henry V also features Marya Lowry, Jonno Roberts, Georgia Hatzis, Robert Walsh, Jeremiah A. Kissel, John Kuntz, Jim Spencer, Dennis Paton, Malik B. El-Amin, Patrice Jean-Baptiste, Linda Carmichael, Gilbert Owuor, Ray McDavitt, Jim Butterfield, John Porell, Charles Linshaw, Christopher J. Hagberg, James Kelly, Caleb Kissel, Douglas Lyons and Douglass Bowen Flynn.
The creative team includes Susan Zeeman Rogers (sets), Linda O'Brien (lights), Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes) and J. Hagenbuckle (sound). Fight choreography is directed by Robert Walsh. Since 1996, CSC has mounted productions of Shakespeare for Boston audiences during summer. Previous stagings include Twelfth Night (2001), The Tempest (2000), Julius Caesar (1999), As You Like It (1998), and Romeo and Juliet (1997). All of the aforementioned were presented at the stage at Boston Common. The preceding year's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1996) played at Copley Square.
This year's production is made possible by the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, the Poduska Family Foundation and the cooperation of the City of Boston.
Henry V will be performed at the Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common. Performances are free to the public. For more information, call the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company at 617-747-4468 or visit www.commonwealthshakespeare.org.
— by Ernio Hernandez
and Christine Ehren