Charleston Alley Theatre puts on historical play

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Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The actors, director, stage managers and others involved in the Charleston Alley Theatre’s production of “The Lion in Winter” could be seen running around, learning lines and getting costumes together at their rehearsal Wednesday.

The Charleston Alley Theatre will put on the play, “The Lion in Winter” at 7:30 p.m. from March 28-30 and at 2 p.m. on March 29th.

The play is set in the 12th century and is about the personal and political conflicts of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and his three sons throughout the Christmas of 1183.

The play, while not completely historically accurate, takes pieces of

Director Deborah Murphy Kerr said it is mostly a play about family dysfunction, which centers on sex, money and power.

“Everyone’s plotting against everyone else,” she said.

When the play opens, Eleanor of Aquitaine has arrived to Henry II’s castle after being imprisoned by him for the last 9-10 years.

“I am the 25th great granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, so I’ve always been fascinated by her,” Murphy Kerr said. “She was a total anomaly for that time- she actually did things her way, in her own right.”

Murphy Kerr said Eleanor of Aquitaine helped spur the “birth of feminism.”

Because of the historical nature of the play, the whole cast did research on the 12th century to prepare for their parts.

For actor Alexander Yeck-Petty, who plays John, the youngest son, it was not the historical aspect of the play that he had a hard time with.

Instead, he had the challenging task of portraying a character he did not like.

“He’s a whiny bitch,” Yeck-Petty said. “I hate my character.”

This is Yeck-Petty’s first play with the Charleston Alley Theatre, although he did participate in high school theatre.

Veteran actress Rachael Anderson, who posted about it on Facebook after the original John was unable to perform, brought Yeck-Petty to the theatre.

Yeck-Petty said he was drawn to the play because he loved the movie.

“My favorite actors star in the movie version of the play,” he said.

This is not the first time the Charleston Alley Theatre has performed “The Lion in Winter.”

The play was last performed in 1995, when Murphy Kerr acted in it.

“I played the part, and wanted to do it again,” Murphy Kerr said. “I said please, I want to direct.”

This will be Murphy Kerr’s directorial debut.

“When direction, you kind of have to learn everything, look from everyone else’s point of view,” Murphy Kerr said.

Duke Bagger and Linda Bagger play Henry and Eleanor. They said it will be about their 10th time playing husband and wife.

“It’s fun to play husband and wife when you’re husband and wife,” Bagger said.

Although the play is set so long ago, it can still be applicable to situations today.

“It’s tackling issues that are still relevant, families, government, war,” Murphy Kerr said.

There is one significant difference, however.

“We don’t really board our wives up for 10 years,” Linda Bagger said.

Yeck-Petty compared the treachery in the play to the popular show “Game of Thrones.”

Murphy Kerr and her husband provide all the costumes in the play. The costuming includes a crown from the Czech Republic, knives, and 12th century garments.

Amanda Wolf, who acts and stage-manages “The Lion in Winter,” said this was her first time working with the Charleston Alley Theatre.

“The CAT’s a great little family,” she said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].