With a cast seasoned by several years of participation in the art league's summer Shakespeare festivals and a wardrobe of costumes from the Middle Ages on loan from a larger theater, veteran director Pat Lewkowicz says The Lion in Winter is special.
"It's one of the best plays I've ever directed. First of all it's the acting, the cast is marvelous. All of them. Usually there's 2 or 3 very good actors and some more you have to work with. This bunch is unbelievably good," she said.
So good, in fact, two casts are used for the play. There's Cast A, with Carrie Neuman in the role of Alias, the French princess, and Daniel Lugo portraying Philip, the King of France. In Cast B, Erica Hulbert and Micheil McElvey fill the roles. The remainder of the cast is unchanged.
"We just had so many good actors, that I couldn't turn them away, plus this system also helped me solve some conflicts from jobs that some of the actors had," she said.
Lewkowicz also credited the art league's Shakespeare in the Hills summer festival as a great training ground for her young actors to gain the experience for period pieces such as The Lion in Winter. The cast of Shakespeare alumnus includes Neuman, Lugo, Hulbert, McElvey, Rigdon and Witkowski.
She said the costumes, on loan from Ocala Civic Theatre, are expertly tailored and closely resemble the clothing worn by The Royals during the time period.
"They're beautiful and very effective," she said.
Here is the schedule for the two casts during the play:
Tonight's opening features Cast A; Saturday's evening performance will have Cast B; and Sunday's matinee will have Cast A.
The Nov. 29 performance has Cast A, the Nov. 30 matinee has Cast B; the Nov. 30 evening performance has Cast A; and the Dec. 1 matinee has Cast B. The Dec. 6 evening performance has Cast A; the Dec. 7 performance has Cast B; and the finale on Dec. 8 has Cast A.