“The Lion in Winter” shows its teeth at Bruka Theater.

Photos by Dana Nollsch,

Christmas in France in 1183 with a treacherous family of royal descent is quite entertaining in a very dramatic way.

Combine King Henry II, with his Queen and his Mistress, add in three sons and the newly crowned King of France and you get a delightfully wicked story of deceit and betrayal with a just a hint of family  dependency.

Everything comes together to make Bruka’s production of “The Lion in Winter” a pure delight with no hint of mediocracy.

The family is led by King Henry II, played to perfection by Chip Arnold. I found Chips portrayal of this classic character to be mesmerizing and compelling. This may be the most powerful role I have seen Chip play.

Queen Eleanor is played delightfully by Cami Thompson. Queen Eleanor spent the last decade locked up in a tower by the King and we can see in Cami’s performance that hint of insanity that being locked up in isolation can bring but at the same time the brilliant scheming intelligence that claws for control.

The three sons are played by Robert Zellers (Richard the Lionheart), Jessey Richards (John), and Cody Canon (Geoffrey). These three brothers could not be any different from each other. These three actors bring the brothers to life with their stumbling and scheming that ultimately leads them to the brink of ruin.

To this family mix, we add in the newly crowned French King, Phillip Capet, played by Luke Allen and his sister Alias Capet played by Lainey Henderson. Princess Capet has been the mistress of King Henry for the time the King has kept his wife locked up in the tower. King Phillip has his eyes on a prime piece of land and perhaps even sharpening his teeth with war.

I found the cast to be remarkable in their performances and kept the audience engaged for the 2 ½ hours of this epic tale.

Bruka’s production of “The Lion in Winter” is directed by Diane Peters with Assistant Direction by Paige Clarno. It is very evident that the direction has brought the actors together to add depth to the performances.

The set and lighting are seamlessly balanced, adding to the flow of the performances. Dave Simpson does his usual magic to the lighting and Derek Nance manages the stage through the several set changes over the 2 ½ hour performance.

If you have been to Bruka Theater over the years, then you know that the sets can be very creative thanks to the talents of Lewis Zaumeyer, the set for “The Lion in Winter” is no exception.

As I edit the photos I do realize that the costumes are as much a character and the players on stage. The costumes are wonderful, thanks to Deborah Morrison.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching “The Lion in Winter” and I am sure you will as well.

~Dana Nollsch~

Check out the photos for a taste of what you will see.

For more information on dates showtimes check out Bruka Theater’s website: http://www.bruka.org/

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