Providence, 1942: Oberon Play House’s director and leading men are off at war. Determined to press on, the director’s wife sets out to produce an all-female version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, assembling an increasingly unexpected team united in desire, if not actual theater experience. Together they deliver a delightful celebration of collaboration and persistence when the show must go on! A surprisingly modern and moving comedy about the singular way art and community reveal our boldest selves even in the darkest times.
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"Playwright George Brant has forged a tidy little reputation for comedy."
It’s 1942 and the Oberon Theater, known for its Shakespearean productions, has lost its men to the war efforts. The company’s diva Celeste claims she is “an unwatered flower” withering away without the laughter, tears, and applause of her audience. But Maggie, the director’s wife, has other ideas. With her husband’s blessing, she sets out to move forward with their originally planned production of The Henriad – a combination of Henry IV and Henry V – with all the parts being played by the women of the company.
Initially skeptical, Celeste soon signs on – thrilled at the notion of taking of juicy new roles. The Board President, Ellsworth Snow, is harder to convince. He is concerned about the audience – half of them are away at war and the ones who are left aren’t in the mood for entertainment. He is concerned for the future of their theater – an untested director and women pretending to be men will certainly tarnish the esteemed organization’s reputation for years. Maggie counters that this play’s themes of patriotism, sacrifice and victory are just what the audience needs. Ellsworth remains unconvinced – until his beloved wife – the timid and inexperienced wife Winifred expresses an interest in being in the cast.
The auditions however are sparsely attended with only two new cast members, June and Grace, on board. With the assistance of Ida, who handles costumes, and Stage Manager Stuart, Maggie begins rehearsals with the small and enthusiastic, though novice, cast. As they make their way through rehearsals, they gain a few unexpected cast members but lose – and eventually regain – their star over “artistic differences.”
The women make their way through rehearsals, incorporating clever tips to help their strides become more masculine, and finding ways to make dear Winifred funny. All the while, they miss their husbands and long for word from the front. Other injustices of the outside world – most notably, blatant racism – also make their way into the lives of the cast.
The cast pushes forward – finding strength in each other and their common goal. Together they find the courage to go boldly “into the breeches!”