The Parkside Players is a community theater group which has been bringing affordable live theater to the Forest Hills community since 1981. Located at the Grace Lutheran Church on the corner of Union Turnpike and 71st Road (just south of Metropolitan Ave.), the Parkside Players produces three shows per year.
Their latest production is a revival of James Goldman's fantastic comedy/drama The Lion in Winter, which takes place at Christmas in 1183 England and tells the tale of King Henry II (Gordon Innes), who wants his sulky 17-year-old son John (Victor Starsky) to be king. Eleanor (Rosemary Innes), Henry’s cast-off wife, prefers their eldest, the soldierly Richard (Jimmy O'Neill). Nobody wants crafty son Geoffrey (Francesco LoJacono) — and if you’re a stray woman ensnared in all of this, like Henry’s young mistress Alais (Claudia Goncalves), you’d best watch out.
It had been some time since I had seen a production of Goldman's play, so I was really looking forward to heading out to Forest Hills to see the show. It was about a decade ago, I believe, when I saw Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing, two exceptional actors, star in the roles of Henry and Eleanor on Broadway. As good as they were, they were no match for the stars of the magnificent film version from 1968, Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn (who won an Oscar for her performance). The film version is also notable for the film debut of future Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, who excelled in his debut as Richard. If you're an actor and you've never seen the film, directed by the great Anthony Harvey, I highly recommend you adding it to your NetFlix queue now, as it is a master class in acting. If you're a budding screenwriter or playwright looking for inspiration, then study this text (James Goldman won a richly deserved Oscar for the adaptation of his own play).
You may be wondering why I'm talking so much about the 1968 film. Well, it certainly beats the alternative...talking about the Parkside Players' poor, in every way, revival of the play, which opened this past weekend.