Adventure classics come to Edison

The price of glory. The brutality of war. A lawless free-fire zone brimming with loyalists and revolutionaries.

This month, two powerhouses of American theater, The Guthrie Theater and The Acting Company, will join forces to present a pair of adventure classics for Edison Theatre’s OVATIONS! Series.

Courtesy Photo

Andy Grotelueschen (right) as Captain Lawson and Rick Ford as Mr. Wharton in “The Spy.”

At 8 p.m. Feb. 13, director Davis McCallum will lead a cast of 12 in William Shakespeare’s epic “King Henry V.” At 8 p.m. Feb. 14, John Miller-Stephany, associate artistic director of the Guthrie, will direct Jeffrey Hatcher’s world premiere adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Spy.”

Based on the life of Henry V, “King Henry V” follows the young and ambitious English monarch as he attempts to secure his political position at home by turning the country’s attention abroad.

Launching a hasty invasion of France, Henry and his ragtag army confront heavy opposition but, following a dramatic stand at the Battle of Agincourt, succeed in uniting the two nations (however briefly). Yet, Shakespeare frankly juxtaposes the heroics of battle with its human costs, capturing the pained and complex reactions of men who are sometimes unsure of the justice of their cause.

“The Spy,” set during the American Revolution, centers on the Wharton family, a prosperous New York clan living on “neutral ground” between British forces in Manhattan and American rebels further north. Though divided in their loyalties — the older daughter, Sarah, is preparing to marry a British colonel, while the younger daughter, Frances, is engaged to an American major — the Whartons remain at peace until Henry, the only son, is arrested as a British spy.

As he awaits hanging, Henry finds his fate in the hands of a mysterious wandering peddler named Harvey Birch, a supposed British loyalist who may be working for George Washington.

The cast of 12 — which performs several dozen roles over the course of the two shows — is comprised of Acting Company alumni as well as graduates of the Guthrie Experience and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. actor training programs.

Leading the ensemble are Matthew Amendt as Henry V and Ron Menzel as Harvey Birch, along with Freddy Arsenault, Georgia Cohen, Kelley Curran, Rick Ford, Andy Grotelueschen, Carie Kawa, Robert Michael McClure, William Sturdivant, Samuel Taylor and Sonny Valicenti.

Based in Minneapolis, The Guthrie Theater was founded in 1963 by the great English director Sir Tyrone Guthrie as a center for theater performance, production, education and professional training. In addition to touring mainstage shows, the Guthrie performs contemporary pieces through The Guthrie Lab and runs educational programs that reach more than 90,000 students every year.

The Acting Company, also based in Minneapolis, was founded in 1972 by the late John Houseman and by producing director Margot Harley, who wanted to bring the live experience of classic theater to communities that might otherwise go unserved.

In the years since, the troupe has performed 131 plays in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. Alumni include Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Frances Conroy, Jeffrey Wright, Jesse L. Martin, David Ogden Stiers and Rainn Wilson.

Tickets — $20 for students and children; $28 for faculty, staff and seniors; and $32 for the public — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, call 935-6543 or e-mail