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Posted on Fri. Jan. 04, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

‘Winter’ a tonic for doldrums

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If you go:

What: “The Lion in Winter”

Where: First Presbyterian Theater, 300 W. Wayne St.

When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, Jan. 11, 12, 18, 19; 2 p.m. Jan. 13

Admission: Tickets, from $18 to $24, are available by calling 422-6329

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Constant drama with a lot of comedy – this is how two members of the First Presbyterian Theater cast describe the performance of “The Lion in Winter.”

The theater’s adaptation of playwright James Goldman’s play stars Bob Haluska and Kate Black as King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor. With an added spin, the two cast members, who live in Fort Wayne, are also married in real life.

“Being able to work with my husband really is the icing on the cake,” Black says. “Even if we have to say horrible things to each other, we know that when we come home, it won’t be an issue.”

The play, directed locally by Ranae Butler, brings a contemporary re-telling of events that happened in 1183 and what Black calls a “historical and exciting work based on people who really existed, even if we don’t know what really happened.”

Black has been involved in the theater program since 1971 and has been working with Butler for years.

“I’ve probably done about 15 shows with the theater, and several with Ranae Butler as director or fellow cast member,” Black says. “She has a wonderful warm quality that helps her to elicit the best performance from the cast.”

Black has also worked professionally in San Francisco.

“I started training to be an actor when I was 17, and now I’ve been involved in theater for 41 years and I really do love it,” Black says. “This play was the first one I read when I started training to be an actor, and I fell in love with the role of Eleanor then.”

Black describes the play as comedic and dramatic with twists and turns that keep it unpredictable.

Because the play can be classified as historical fiction, Black’s husband and co-star Haluska serves as what Butler calls the dramaturge of the cast. His job is to research the historical aspects in order to help with the development of the play.

“I would say that the play is less historical and more the creative work of James Goldman,” Haluska says. “It is not an actual event, but more a composite of different events, and it is very entertaining.”

The play is a work of “contemporary comedy in period clothing,” Black says. Both Haluska and Black believe the performance will not be a disappointment for the audience.

“People are going to love it,” Black says. “It will be a wonderful tonic for the after-holiday doldrums.”


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