Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival launches with Henry IV, Part 2, opening the festivities on May 31 with “Extreme Shakespeare”

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Center Valley, PA, May 16, 2023— Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival kicks off its summer season with William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2, which previews May 31 and June 1, opens June 2, and continues through June 11 in the Schubert Theatre at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.

A must see for Shakespeare and literary enthusiasts alike, Henry IV, Part 2 marks the return of “Extreme Shakespeare,” with PSF actors boldly tackling the play the same way Shakespearean acting companies did—in a few fast-paced days with lines already learned and improvisational staging embraced. Operating as their own directing and design team, this ensemble will present their inventive take on one of Shakespeare’s most epic and insightful works while running on pure adrenaline and creativity. For those Shakespeare-shy audiences, this is a great way to introduce the Bard in a fun, dynamic, and unique process.

Henry IV, Part 2 continues the richly layered coming-of-age tale begun in King Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 of previous PSF seasons. King Henry IV is in failing health as his kingdom is threatened by swirling conspiracies and enemies at the borders. Prince Hal must distance himself from a life of frivolity to reconcile the public and private life as the mantle of kingship passes from father to son. The irrepressibly decadent Falstaff is forced out of the tavern to face his duty on the battlefield with an exacting eye to a future when Hal is king. Shakespeare’s dramatic tale of family, betrayal, and rebellion illuminates the magnitude of honor and duty in the making of a monarch.

Leading the play are Eli Lynn as Prince Hal, John Alin as Sir John Falstaff, and PSF veteran actor Christopher Patrick Mullen will return in various roles in this production and others this summer.

Lynn who was last seen in PSF’s first outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2021), is also the production’s Fight Director. Their regional acting credits include performances at 1812 Productions, American Shakespeare Center, Cleveland Playhouse, Folger Theatre, InterAct Theatre, and Hedgerow Theatre. They are also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective. Lynn can also be seen this summer in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] playing June 28 to July 16.

Ahlin reprises the role of Falstaff following his 2019 performance in Henry IV, Part 1 and The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2010. This is Ahlin’s eighth PSF production. His Broadway credits include Waiting for Godot, Journey’s EndThe Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee! and Macbeth. Ahlin has also appeared in more than a dozen Off-Broadway shows and at top regional theatres around the country. As a playwright, his award-winning plays include Gray AreaMy Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories, and ChipandGus, co-authored with Christopher Patrick Mullen (CPM), who joins him in the Henry IV, Part 2 cast.

Festival audiences will fondly remember CPM who has appeared in numerous leading roles at the Festival since its inception in 1992. “The Extreme Shakespeare experience is not to be missed for actors and the audience alike. Among the things I love is the inescapable feeling of nervously energetic, bold, no-nonsense storytelling in which there is no barrier, no obstacle, no middleman, to obscure the relationship channel between the actor, the story, and the audience,” says Mullen. His notable PSF credits include The Mystery of Irma VepHenry IV, Part 1Shakespeare in LoveKing Richard IILoveʼs Labour’s LostJulius CaesarPericlesCharleyʼs AuntHamletThe Glass MenagerieTwelfth NightRomeo and Juliet, and Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker. Select regional credits include performances at Baltimore Center Stage, Hedgerow Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and Arden Theatre Company.

Joining them in the Henry IV cast are Kimberly Gilbert (Mistress Quickly), Eric Hissom (Lord Chief Justice/Mouldy), Jim Ireland (King Henry IV), Gina Lamparella (Lady Northumberland/Mowbray), Ty Lane (Prince John/ Fang), Anthony Lawton (Northumberland/Shallow), Gabe Moses (Poins/Coleville), Ian Merrill Peakes (Westmoreland), Sabrina Lynne Sawyer (Lady Percy), and Patrick Toon (Bardolph). Ashani Smith is the stage manager and Melissa Collins is the assistant stage manager.

Audiences can enhance the experience before every performance with live music and a variety of dining options “on the green,” and a free prologue for insights into the play held in the theatre 45 minutes prior to curtain and free to attend. Other special offerings are an Opening Night post-show champagne toast with the PSF Company on Friday, June 2; a talk back with the actors after the show on Thursday, June 8; and an Audio Described performance on Saturday, June 10, at 2:00pm.

The Production Sponsors for Henry IV, Part 2 are Keith & Stefanie Wexler and the Production Co-Sponsor is Mary Bongiorno. The 2023 Season Sponsors are Yvonne Payne and Edward Spitzer. The Associate Season Sponsors are Douglas Dykhouse, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online or by calling 610.282.WILL [9455] or by visiting the PSF box office at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. The Festival encourages patrons to order early for the best seating options.

Summer 2023 Season:

Schubert Stage: Henry IV, Part 2 (May 31 to June 11); James and the Giant Peach (July 7 to Aug 5); Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (July 19 to August 6).

Main Stage: In the Heights (June 14 to July 2); The Tempest (July 12 to August 6); Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (July 20 to August 6); Shakespeare for Kids (July 26 to August 5).

Outdoor Summer Stage: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] (June 28 to July 16).

“Play On!” A Midsummer Night’s Dream Community Tour: (June 2 to June 18).

Artistic Leadership:

Jason King Jones, Artistic Director

Casey William Gallagher, Managing Director

Dennis Razze, Associate Artistic Director

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can normally be seen in repertory and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF was among just a handful of theatres on the continent in recent summers to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season. A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington PostNPRAmerican Theatre Magazine,, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Traditionally, with 150 performances over ten weeks, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 30 years, PSF has offered 200+ total productions (82 Shakespeare), and entertained 1,000,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour to schools. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). In 2013, leaders of the world’s premiere Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference. The Festival’s vision is for world-class theatre.

JASON KING JONES (Artistic Director, Director, The Tempest) Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley with his family, Jason spent ten years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he served as Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, America’s longest-running touring theatre company. At Olney, Jason directed over twenty productions, mentored over 200 early-career theatre makers, and established various in-school and summer educational programs. As a freelance director, Jason has worked across the US, including the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Jason is an Acting Company alumnus, a proud member of the PSF Board, and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association’s IDEAA Committee. Jason holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Missouri State and an MFA in Directing from Boston University.

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER (Managing Director) has worked at PSF for 25 seasons. Over the years he was the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, and director of development. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he has served as the administrative leader of the Festival, working very closely with the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. Casey is excited to now serve as co-leader of the Festival with Artistic Director Jason King Jones.  Beyond PSF, Casey has also been treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre.

DENNIS RAZZE (Associate Artistic Director) was one of the founding members of PSF back in 1992. Since then, he has directed over twenty productions for PSF including RagtimeLes Misérables, Evita, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, West Side Story, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, Cyrano de Bergerac, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Amadeus, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mr. Razze has been a faculty member at DeSales for the last thirty-nine years and served as chair of the theatre department from 2003 to 2020. Besides directing, Mr. Razze has worked as an actor and a composer. He composed the scores for many PSF and Act One productions. Mr. Razze will be retiring from DeSales at the end of this summer, but he plans to continue working as a freelance director.

Artist and Creative Team Bios (alphabetical order):

JOHN AHLIN* (Falstaff) This is John’s eighth PSF production, which include Fiddler on the Roof, and Playboy of the Western World. Broadway credits: Waiting for Godot, Journey’s End (2007 Tony Award Best Revival), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee! and Macbeth. Off-Broadway: Orson Welles in Orson’s Shadow, and dozens more. John has appeared at the top regional theaters around the country. TV/Film: Law and OrderSVU, Late Night with David Letterman, the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and the upcoming Space Cadet. As a playwright, John’s award-winning plays include Gray AreaMy Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories, and ChipandGus, co-authored with Christopher Patrick Mullen, about two guys playing ping pong.

MELISSA COLLINS (Assistant Stage Manager) an Atlanta native and Florida resident, Melissa studied at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida receiving an A.A. in Entertainment Design and Technology. This is Melissa’s first season with PSF and she is thrilled to be here. Recent credits: Noises OffHenry V at Orlando Shakes; The Fantasticks at Flint Repertory Theatre; Hymn at Shakespeare & Company.

JEFFREY DUNSTON (Archbishop) Jeffrey Dunston is making his first appearance with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.  Previously he was cast in the role of Sea Captain with the New Jersey Shakespeare Theater in December of 2022.  Earlier in the spring of 2022 he was cast in the Ithaca Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar in the role of Brutus.  Jeff has also been featured in roles in Romeo and JulietteComedy of Errors and Much Ado about Nothing.

KIMBERLY GILBERT* (Mistress Quickly) a Delco native, making her PSF debut. A proud union actor since 2001, she is a graduate of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy For Classical Acting and company member of both Woolly Mammoth Theatre and Taffety Punk Theatre in Washington DC. She dedicates this, her PSF maiden voyage, to the memory of her mother, Catherine Winifred Gilbert.

ERIC HISSOM* (LC Justice/Mouldy) Eric’s PSF credits include roles in Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, A Man for All Seasons, The Tempest, Taming of the Shrew, Troilus and Cressida, Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Around the World in Eighty Days, King John, All’s Well that Ends Well, and more. Other theatre credits include work at Seattle Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep, Asolo Rep, Syracuse Stage, Arena Stage, Arden Theater Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, and many others. He did the national tour of The Thirty-Nine Steps, and has done a bit of TV and film, including the feature Out of Time. He has an MFA from Florida State’s Asolo Conservatory.

JIM IRELAND* (King Henry IV) first appeared on the Labuda stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1987 and in PSF’s inaugural season where he also directed the Festival’s first Green Show. Most cherished Shakespearean roles are Sir Andrew Aguecheek (dir. Gregory Doran, RSC),  Malvolio (New York), Mercutio (Tour) and King Lear’s Fool (Orlando Shakespeare Theater).  Off-Broadway credits include The Shawl (dir. Sidney Lumet), and Motherbird (Original cast) by Craig Lucas. Jim played opposite Phylicia Rashad in Every Tongue Confess (dir. Kenny Leon) at Arena Stage and was a member of the Lab Theater (formerly Circle Rep) where he workshopped plays for fellow members Terrance McNally, Craig Lucas, William Hoffman and Lanford Wilson. Jim’s voice can be heard most recently in Marvel’s Wolverine, and most previously, with Coleen Dewhurst in A Door in the Wall, a radio drama on NPR.

GINA LAMPARELLA* (Lady Northumberland/Mowbray) has appeared on Broadway in Caroline or Change, The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fiddler on the Roof (Tzeitel), Gypsy, Imaginary Friends, Jane Eyre (Blanche Ingram)and Les Miserables. Other theater: Miss SaigonCrazy For You (Polly),  The Graduate (Mrs. Robinson), The Sound of Music (Elsa Schraeder), Fiddler on the Roof (Golde). TV credits include The BlacklistMaster of NoneGuiding LightAs the World Turns, and All My Children. For PSF, Gina has appeared on stage as Thaisa in Pericles and Miranda in The Tempest; and directed Crazy For You, Richard II, and WillPower tours of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.

TY LANE (John, Fang, Drawer 2, 2H4) This is Ty Lane’s first season with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Credits include: Romeo & Juliet at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Twelfth Night, The Metromaniacs, and the 2022 Shakespeare LIVE! tour of Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Much Ado About Nothing at Opera House Arts; Troilus & Cressida, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cabaret, Into the Woods, and Ragtime at the Scranton Shakespeare Festival; He has been in the world premieres of The Richard Project at the Lester Martin Theatre and Let Go at the New York Theater Festival. He is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was a member of the 2018-2019 Academy Company.

ANTHONY LAWTON* (Northumberland, Shallow, 2H4) has acted in Philadelphia for twenty-four years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut);  “man” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812);  and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden).In 2005, Lawton received grants from the Independence Foundation and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative to write and develop The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play).  Keep an eye out for The Light Princess at the Arden this spring, which Lawton adapted for the stage with music by Alex Bechtel. The Philadelphia City Paper named him the city’s “Best One-Man Theatre” for his solo productions of The Devil and Billy Markham, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.

ELI LYNN (Hal/Fight Director) (they/them) is a trans nonbinary actor, IDC-certified Intimacy Director, and Barrymore-nominated fight director. Regional acting credits include: Trevor (The Play That Goes Wrong, 1812 Productions), Orsino/Toby (Twelfth Night) and Jean 3/Prince (Thrive, World Premiere – American Shakespeare Center), Aramis (The Three Musketeers, Cleveland Playhouse), Raymond (The Sea Voyage, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective), Flute/Thisby (Midsummer Night’s Dream, PA Shakespeare Festival), Dorcus/Dion (The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre), Danny/Diana (Sensitive Guys, World Premiere – InterAct), Flask (Moby Dick, Hedgerow). They are also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

GABE MOSES (Poins/Coleville/1st Beedle) is an actor and director who strives to use his platforms to amplify black and brown voices. Gabe has been seen at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in their productions of Ragtime, Crazy For You, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and others. His other acting credits include HAIR (Cortland Repertory Theatre), The Tempest (Delaware Shakespeare), and Park Protectors (Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble). His directing credits include Blood At The Root (Charter Arts High School), Trouble In Mind (Civic Theatre), Dark Skinned Pavement (Palm Beach Dramaworks), and assistant director to Steve H Broadnax (Broadway’s Thoughts of A Colored Man) for Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland (People’s Light).

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN* (Hastings/Francis/Silence) DeSales graduate— CPMʼs work with PSF (since 1992) includes: Irma Vep, Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare In Love, Richard II, Loveʼs Labours Lost, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Charleyʼs Aunt, Hamlet, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker! — Other credits include: ChipandGus (Baltimore CenterStage, et al); A Christmas Carol Comedy (Hedgerow Theatre); Long Day’s Journey into Night, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes (Bridge Street Theatre); Birds of North America, The Pavilion (Chester Theatre Co); Rumors, Noises Off (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina); Hamlet (Orlando Shakespeare Theater); West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway); Cabaret, Metamorphoses, Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, Assassins (Arden Theatre).

IAN MERRILL PEAKES* (Westmoreland) PSF: Midsummer, As You Like It, Blithe Spirit, Taming of the Shrew et al; Philly: Lantern Theater: Lifespan of a Fact; Molly Sweeney; Walnut Street Theatre: Blithe Spirit, Matilda, Peter and the Starcatcher. Arden Theatre: Something Intangible (Barrymore Award), All My Sons (Barrymore Award); Wilma Theater; Philadelphia Theatre Company: Sideman (Barrymore Award); Theatre Exile: Red Light Winter and Invisible Hand (Barrymore Award nominations); Regional: ACT, Seattle Rep and Shakespeare Theatre: Charles III; Folger: R and G are Dead (Helen Hayes Award), Henry VIII, Macbeth, The Game of Love and Chance (Helen Hayes nominations); Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The Catch, Glengarry Glen Ross (Best of Denver Awards); Actors Theatre of Louisville; Shakespeare Santa Cruz; Gulfshore Playhouse.

SABRINA LYNNE SAWYER (Lady Percy/Snare/Clarence/Wart) Recent credits include The Cake, the Boston premiere of Chicken & Biscuits, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Folger Theatre in Washington D.C.; National tour: National Players (Olney Theatre Center): A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Raisin in the Sun. Training: B.A. Theatre (Acting), University of Southern California.

ASHANI SMITH* (Stage Manager) (she/her). Ashani returns to her third year at PSF directly from the 1st national tour of Jagged Little Pill. PSF credits include: A Chorus Line (AEA ASM) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (ASM) Other recent credits include: 1st national tour of Pretty Woman (Sub ASM), Metropolis (New Light Theater Project), and Jelly’s Last Jam (2019 National Black Theatre Festival).

PATRICK TOON* (Bardolph) A twenty-year resident of New York, Patrick has worked regionally in ten states and is happy to add Pennsylvania to the list.  Favorite roles include Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, the Ghost and Player King in Hamlet, Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, and Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Stage Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Cast and creative team members are subject to change.


Information provided to TVL by:
Tina Louise Slak
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival