Walking into the Jean Browne Theatre late at night, one can find a crew hard at work, preparing for TJC’s anticipated performance of “The Lion in Winter.”  

The show opened Wednesday, Nov. 30 and could be seen through Sunday, Dec. 4.

James Goldman’s historical comedy “The Lion in Winter” follows a dysfunctional English royal family at Christmas. The play is set in 1183 in the castle of King Henry II of England. Members of the royal family plot and scheme between one another for who will inherit the throne. Their sibling rivalry and jealousy results in a civil war.

Holly berries, wreaths, and swords cover director Jacque Shackelford’s office, along with other interesting props for the show. Shackelford’s countenance lit up as she described why she chose this play. 

“‘Lion in Winter’ follows one of the most interesting families in history. The script is so witty and clever, it truly has been so much fun to direct. I am most excited about just sharing this story with the audience.” 

Shackelford not only raved with excitement about the play but also about those involved. 

“Anyone who comes to see any TJC show will be pleasantly surprised. We have such excellent actors, and all the staff have an unusually high standard of production.” 

Katie Weekley took on the role of Queen Eleanor. 

“Playing Eleanor has been quite the honor and adventure. Eleanor is a powerful woman who knows how to get what she wants, and she’ll do anything to get it,” she said.

Theater major Corey Finzel played Richard the Lionheart. Finzel has been in several TJC productions. Earlier this semester he played the lead role in “Macbeth.”

“My role as Richard is much different than playing Macbeth,” Finzel said. “He spends a lot of his time deep in thought, whereas Macbeth talked a lot throughout the play. There is also a significant psychological change. Richard just wants his father’s love, while Macbeth was much more dark and complex. It’s a night and day difference between the two.”

Finzel said he enjoyed the play’s witty comedy. 

“The bickering between family members is so comical. It’s something that anyone in the audience with siblings can relate to.”

Travis Fant held the role of King Henry. Fant said portraying the husband to Queen Eleanor is a bit tricky because he and Weekley are in a relationship off the stage.

“Working together has been so much fun, but it truly has been challenging. Both Katie and I have had to work at making sure we are acting like Henry and Eleanor, not just Travis and Katie,” said Fant. 

Unlike other plays, the cast for “Lion in Winter” consisted of only seven people. 

“Having such a small cast has helped us to work together. We’ve all bonded through this performance,” said Weekley.

The cast rehearsed every evening until opening night.

“Some nights by the end of rehearsal I catch myself speaking or thinking like Eleanor. You truly do become the character, because you spend so much time leaning about them,” said Weekley.

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