A Glam Rock 'Henry IV'

Sep 27, 2017

"Henry IV has been one of my favorite plays for years," says director Beth Burns. "I don't see it enough. It doesn't have a sexy title, and yet it's this incredible play. I think it's one of Shakespeare's best because it is so funny and so sexy and so adventure-filled and violence-filled. And it's about this great delinquent! The greatest delinquent in history."

For Burns, staging one of her favorite Shakespeare plays opened up a great opportunity to experiment a little and bring something new to a play that's over 400 years old. "I thought, 'what better opportunity to spread our wings a little bit and add this glam aesthetic to it?' It screams for it."

To bring her desired aesthetic to Henry IV, Burns enlisted a talented crew to spred the glam around a little. "We were really lucky -- we brought on Aaron Flynn, who is a costume designer in town who also works with a lot of drag artists," says Burns. "So we wanted these larger-than-life glam costumes, and Aaron has provided those to us in spades."

"It is astonishingly glittery and glammy," agrees Robert Matney, who plays Falstaff. "It ticks off a couple of boxes on my costume bucket list. Items that I didn't know I had. Translucent leopard print and gold lamé. Lots of gold lamé."

And of course you can't really do a glam-inspired Shakespeare play without some live glam rock music, and that's where Todd Kassens (of the band Shoulders) comes in. He's providing an original, glam-inspired score for the show, while also playing Bardolph, a drinking buddy of Hal and Falstaff. "I, too, have been researching for decades in taverns in preparation for this role," Kassens says with a laugh.

For Matney, taking on the role of Falstaff is an exciting endeavor. "It's a marvelous role; I feel really honored to do it," he says. Matney isn't exactly a man of Falstaffian proportions, but he's playing role with only the heft God gave him, and no additional padding. "I feel freer without it," he says. "And I think that I'm a big enough fellow to at least sell the idea of it, if maybe not quite the reality of his excessive size."

Henry IV runs through October 1 at the York Rite Masonic Hall.