Henry V, Directed by Tony Winner Des McAnuff, Opens July 13 at Stratford Festival

By Kenneth Jones
July 13, 2012

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario opens a new production of Shakespeare's Henry V on July 13 following previews from June 24 at the flagship Festival Theatre. Artistic director Des McAnuff, whose 2011 Stratford staging of Jesus Christ Superstar recently played Broadway, directs Aaron Krohn as the title monarch in the 1598 history play.



Krohn made his Stratford debut as Lenny in last season's production of The Homecoming and appeared in McAnuff's music-filled production of Twelfth Night. His Broadway credits include The Farnsworth Invention, The Coast of Utopia and Julius Caesar. McAnuff won the Tony Award for Direction for The Who's Tommy and Big River.

The Henry V company also features Ben Carlson (Captain Fluellen), Juan Chioran (Montjoy), Deborah Hay (Alice), Tom Rooney (Ensign Pistol), Timothy D. Stickney (Duke of Exeter), Barbara Barsky (Ensemble), Wayne Best (Capt. Gower), Richard Binsley (King Charles VI) , Michael Blake (Constable), James Blendick (Archbishop of Canterbury), Dan Chameroy (Lord Scrope of Masham, Governor of Harfleur, Lord Rambures), David Collins (John Bates, Bishop of Ely), Brennan Connolly (Musician), Keith Dinicol (Captain MacMorris, Monsieur le Fer), Victor Ertmanis (Earl of Cambridge, Lord Grandpré), Ryan Field (Duke of Bedford), Xuan Fraser (Duke of York, Duke of Burgundy, Stephen Gartner (Captain Jamy, Duke of Orléans), Graham Hargrove (Musician), Randy Hughson (Lieutenant Bardolph, Sir Thomas Erpingham), Luke Humphrey (Michael Williams), Robin Hutton (Messenger), Mary Jay (Musician), Bethany Jillard (Catherine), Claire Lautier (Queen Isabel), Roy Lewis (Sir Thomas Grey, Alexander Court), Steve McDade (Musician), Lucy Peacock (Hostess), Gareth Potter (Louis the Dauphin), Christopher Prentice (Corporal Nim, Earl of Salisbury), Stephen Russell (Earl of Westmorland), Tyrone Savage (Duke of Gloucester), Kate Stone (Musician), Rob Stone (Musician) and Sophia Walker (Boy).

Bethany Jillar and Deborah Hay
photo by David Hou

Henry V "tells the story of the young king seeking to unite his strife-torn kingdom by launching a campaign to seize the throne of France," according to Stratford notes. "But after his invasion’s initial success, the king finds himself facing a vastly superior French force on the fields of Agincourt — and with it, the ultimate test of his leadership."

McAnuff, who is stepping down as artistic director after this season, said in a statement, "We live in an era when war in foreign lands is again very much on our minds, and Henry V is one of the greatest dramas about war ever written. In part, that's because Shakespeare doesn’t take sides: this is neither an overtly anti-war play nor a jingoistic celebration of military glory. Instead, it confronts head-on all the paradoxes and ambivalences inherent in warfare and raises the kinds of questions we still struggle with today. When is war justified? What are its rules of engagement? And how do you hold on to your moral compass in the heat of combat?"

Performances continue in rep to Sept. 29.

The production team includes set designer Robert Brill, costume designer Paul Tazewell, lighting designer Michael Walton, composer Michael Roth, sound designer Peter McBoyle, dramaturg Robert Blacker, choreographer Nicola Pantin, fight director Steve Rankin and associate director Lezlie Wade.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's 2012 season in Stratford, Ontario, runs in rep on four stages until Oct. 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812. For more information, visit stratfordfestival.ca.