World’s End Theater Readings Return on Dec. 6 to First Friday in Cold Spring

Donald Kimmel directs The Lion in Winter

Christmas Eve, 1183: the court of Henry II, King of England.

“What shall we hang, the holly or each other?”
Most families experience a bit of tension around the holidays. This family, however, has more to fight about than cranberry sauce. Who will be the next king of England? The royal succession is at stake, and everyone has a stake in the game. Henry, the aging but still mighty conqueror with an eye on posterity; Eleanor, his estranged wife, legendary Queen and maker of Kings; Richard Lionheart, the eldest, consummate warrior and mama’s boy; Geoffrey, the middle son with all that goes with it; John, the baby of the family, Daddy’s feckless favorite.

An intimate portrait of larger than life historical figures, warts and all, The Lion in Winter premiered on Broadway in 1966, starring Robert Preston and Rosemary Harris, who won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Eleanor. It was adapted by James Goldman into an Academy Award­ winning 1968 film of the same name, starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. The play has been produced numerous times, including Broadway and West End revivals. In 1980, Goldman reflected on the success of the play:

“Most everyone who talks to me about The Lion in Winter is totally convinced the play has always been a great success. Even people who actually saw it during its run on Broadway are apt to mention what a hit it was or that they caught it in its second year. In point of fact, Lion opened on March 3, 1966, to highly contradictory notices, including a thunderous dismissal in The New York Times. Eighty­three performances later, it closed and sank from sight for what I was convinced would be forever. Then came the film.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Hundreds of productions are done all around the world every year, and in 2003 it was made into a television movie starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close. The World’s End Theater reading will feature Philipstown residents Nancy Swann and Donald Kimmel as Eleanor and Henry. Also featured will be Broadway veteran Aaron Galligan­ Stierle (Phantom, Ragtime), Kelsey Olsen (WET’s The Seagull, The Way of the World) and Hudson Valley Shakespeare veterans Charlie Murphy, Mark Couchot and Taylor Walsh.

The production will be directed by Kimmel. The performance takes place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at The Paper, 69 Main St., Cold Spring.

Admission is free of charge on a first come, first served basis.

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