Elizabeth II has reigned over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for 65 years. It’s difficult to imagine England without her, and one must assume even more so for the Royals and for those who will deal with the transition once the moment arrives. But the thought came into Mike Bartlett’s mind, the writer of KING CHARLES III, who, very much ala Shakespeare, wrote about the current Royal family at the moment when Charles (yes, Camilla’s Charles) will become King Charles. The story is now performing at The Pasadena Playhouse, a spectacular show that is entertaining, striking, and thought provoking.
KING CHARLES III is directed by Michael Michetti. It presents a cast of 16 talented Los Angeles actors, with Jim Abele shining as Charles, Adam Haas Hunter as William, Meghan Andrews as Kate, and Dylan Saunders as Harry. Very ala Shakespeare, Bartlett switches back and forth between two stories – a serious one that involves the new King and his arrival to the throne, and a lighter one, basically a love story, that involves Prince Harry. Also ala Shakespeare, the play involves a ghost, but modernizing The Bard, no one is dead on stage when the whole thing is over.
The stage (managed by Bree Sherry with the assistance of Kathleen Barrett) is the most imposing I’ve seen at the Playhouse. It looks expensive and regal and it even extends into part of the seating area, which allows for the actors to be that much closer to the audience. It is well complemented by the lighting designed by Elizabeth Harper and by the magnificent original music composed by Peter Bayne, who recorded parts of it utilizing the voices of the Pasadena Master Chorale.
This is a long play, about 3 hours including a 15-minute intermission, but it’s totally worth it. You must stand in amazement of Bartlett’s imagination and of the way the cast brings his story to life. The audience took no time on opening night to give them a standing ovation.
KING CHARLES III will continue Wednesday through Sunday until Dec. 3. Ticket prices range $25 to $96. They can be purchased online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org or by phone at (626) 356-7529.
Photo: Sarah Hollis and Dylan Saunders as Jess and Prince Harry in KING CHARLES III. / Credit: Jenny Graham.
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