Bethlehem Press

Friday, August 17, 2018
Christian Coulson Christian Coulson

From ‘Harry Potter’ role to ‘King Richard II’ at PSF

Friday, June 8, 2018 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) is known for bringing big-name film and Broadway stars to perform in its renowned festival at DeSales University in Center Valley. And the 27th summer season promises to be no exception.

An actor best-known for his role in the “Harry Potter” film series will join actors who have been seen on Broadway, the West End, opera and in film and television, to perform in six different plays through Aug. 5.

Christian Coulson, who played Tom Riddle in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), plays the title role in William Shakespeare’s “King Richard II.” The show is being performed in repertory with “Shakespeare in Love” in which Coulson plays Lord Wessex.

Coulson also has appeared in the movie “The Hours” (2002) with Meryl Streep, and had recurring roles on television shows, including “Mozart in the Jungle” (2016-18), “Nashville” (2017), and “The Last King” (2003).

“Christian Coulson is just in the right place in his career to tackle this magnificent role,” says PSF Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. “We could see how he’d be a great Richard.”

PSF veterans Luigi Sottile and Mairin Lee will star as Will Shakespeare and his muse, Viola De Lesseps, in “Shakespeare in Love.”

Sottile, who also plays Mowbray in “Richard II,” has performed at Folger Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Lee, who also plays Queen Isabel in “Richard II,” appeared in the Broadway production of “The Heiress, as well as in Off-Broadway shows and at New York Classical Theatre.

Rounding out the repertory cast are Justin Adams, Starla Benford, Christopher Coucill, Christopher Patrick Mullen, Brandon Pierce, Wayne Turney, Jo Twiss, and Richard B. Watson.

“There are 11 Equity actors in both shows,” Mulcahy says. “They are pretty phenomenal actors.”

Broadway stars highlight some of the main roles in the festival’s production of the Tony-winning musical “Ragtime.”

Brandi Burkhardt, who made her Broadway debut in the lead role of Lucie Manette in the musical “A Tale of Two Cities” will play Mother, the matriarch of an upper-class family. Burkhardt reprised her “A Tale of Two Cities” role in London, in concert, and for PBS. She played Sophie in Broadway’s “Mamma Mia!.” Burkhardt starred in NBC’s long-running daytime drama “Passions,” and is a recording artist, who received a Gold Record for her work on Frank Wildhorn’s “The Count Of Monte Cristo.”

Nkrumah Gatling will play the aspiring ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker, Jr. Gatling’s Broadway and National Tour credits include “Miss Saigon,” “Hair” and “Porgy and Bess.” He has performed Off-Broadway, and at the Kennedy Center, Theatre Under the Stars, and Goodspeed Opera House. He was recently honored with the 2018 Marc Blitzstein Award at the Lotte Lenya Competition, a competition that recognizes talented singer-actors in repertoire ranging from opera to Broadway.

Destinee Rea, who appeared in Broadway’s “Amelie,” will play Sarah, the mother of Coalhouse Walker, Jr.’s child. Rea also performed in the National Tour of “Junie B. Jones.”

Samuel Druhora, who has performed at the Romanian National Opera, and Bucharest Musical Theatre, will play Tateh, a Jewish immigrant who wants to make a better life for his daughter in America.

Bryant Martin, who co-starred on the ABC television series “Quantico,” is Father. Richard White, best-known for voicing the character of Gaston in the 1991 animated Disney film “Beauty and the Beast,” plays Grandfather.

The 20th century historical figures featured in “Ragtime” include Harry Houdini, who will be played by Freddie Kimmel (National Tours, “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Billy Elliot”); Henry Ford, who will be played by Jack Doyle (Broadway’s “Young Frankenstein,” “The Music Man,” and “The Will Rogers Follies”), and Booker T. Washington, who will be played by Rod Singleton (Off-Broadway).

Also in “Ragtime”: Michele Ragusa (original Broadway “Ragtime” cast, Broadway’s “Young Frankenstein” and “Titanic”), and stage and television actor Brent Bateman as Willie Conklin.

Victoria Janicki, who completed playing Joan in the National Tour of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home,” plays Viola in “Twelfth Night.” She appeared on the television series “The Blacklist” and “Elementary.”

Stars of screen and stage will present two one-night-only performances during PSF.

Anthony Lawton, who was in the films “Unbreakable” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” performs a solo performance of “The Great Divorce” based on the novel by C.S. Lewis, June 25.

Dan Domenech, who starred as Che in PSF’s 2018 season’s “Evita” and has a 16-year career spanning Broadway and world tours, perform his concert “Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond,” July 30.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

“Alice in Wonderland,” through Aug. 4, Schubert Theatre

“Ragtime,” June 13 - July 1, Main Stage

“Twelfth Night” June 21 - July 15, Schubert Theatre

“Shakespeare in Love,” July 11 - Aug. 5, Main Stage

“King Richard II,” July 19 - Aug. 5, Main Stage

“All’s Well That Ends Well” July 25 - Aug. 5, Schubert Theatre

“Shakespeare for Kids,” July 25 - Aug. 2, Main Stage

Anthony Lawton, “The Great Divorce,” June 25, Main Stage

Dan Domenech, “Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond,” July 30, Main Stage

Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University

Tickets: Labuda Center for the Performing Arts lobby box office, DeSales University, 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley; pashakespeare.org/psf_tickets.php; 610-282-WILL (9455)