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A Glam Rock 'Henry IV'

"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.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for KUT.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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