lion winter stone churchNAVESINK – With a combination of popular old favorites and the excitement of new actors, the Stone Church Players will present “A Lion in winter,” a drama about Eleanor of Aquitaine, three sons at Christmas and their King in the 12th century. Action takes place in All Saints Episcopal Church on Navesink Ave., more popularly known as Stone Church.

The play will be presented Sept. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and again Sept. 23 and 24, also at 8 p.m., with matinees performances on Sundays, Sept. 18 and 25th, presented at 2 p.m.

   Directed by Michael McClellan and Laurie Devino, the play stars CJ Nolan as Henry II and Laura Casey as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and features Abraham Nava, Ankit Sharma and Davis Bush as the three thankless sons facing Henry II while he is attempting to name a successor on the throne.

   Also featured are Jessica Freeland as Alais and Christopher Friedel as Philip II of France.

Seating is $20 for adults, with a special $15 rate for seniors and students. Reservations can be made by calling 732-226-6131, and seating is on a first come, first saved basis. If available, tickets can also be purchased at the door the evening or afternoon of the presentation. Since the church offers open seating, those desiring specific seating should arrive at the church when the doors open one half hour before each performance.

   As with each of the other highly popular presentations at the historic church, the play will be presented in the church itself, which talented decorators transform into a theater for the productions. Persons with special needs should contact the ticket reservation phone number in advance so accommodations can be made. There will be a 15 minute intermission between the two act play, and refreshments will be available for purchase.

   Nolan, portraying Henry II, is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Webb in Our Town and Fredrick in Little Night Music. He also directed the Stone Church Players, with McClellan in Macbeth.

lion winter stone church poster

Casey returns to the stage as Eleanor after being directed as Lady Macbeth by McClellan and Nolan. The other five actors in “The Lion in Winter” are all making their Stone Players debut in this autumn presentation.

     The play, written by James Goldman, was first presented on Broadway in 1966 starring Robert Preston and Rosemary Harris, who won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Eleanor. Made into a film two years later, the movie version starred Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

   Set at Christmas, 1183, the story depicts the personal and political conflicts of the British monarch and his wife and sons, together with their French guests visiting at Henry’s castle in Anjou.

   Photography and artwork for the play and all promotionals at Stone Church are by Eric Kessler and Grace Modla.