And Jim chose Henry V. I can't actually remember why. We didn't have an actor lined up to play the key title role. We didn't think it would sell a lot of tickets. It was something Jim had a passion to tackle, and we trusted his excitement. Jim served in the military in Korea, and so his understanding of men in battle runs deep. Bruce Lackovic created a stunning visual backdrop, a panorama of soldier's faces through the ages, and discovered how to create a thrust stage at Forest Meadows that we've used in one way or another every year since. Rosey Bock's costumes contributed to the eclectic every-war feel.
And at our General Auditions, as we sat watching about 200 actors come and go, in walked the perfect Henry V – the commanding, brilliant, laconic but with seething emotional accessibility, Ian Bedford. It was all we could do not to offer him the role on the spot. He didn't even have his Equity card yet, but he was destined for greatness, and in fact has gone on to have a rich career playing lead roles at regional theatres across the country.
This was also the year we first met and worked with Alexandra Kuntzsch (now Alexandra Matthew), who has become one of the Bay Area's finest leading actresses. The tavern denizens were also all standouts: Peter Schmuckal as Pistol almost stole the show, Jack Halton was the perfect Bardolph, and Marie Shell babbled beautifully of green fields as she told of the death of Falstaff.
Artistic Director Robert Currier ended up pushing the huge cannon onstage each night, after he got tired of seeing it bump into the scenery – which put him in the perfect location for another key Artistic Director job, emptying the backstage trash cans into the dumpsters (“what, give up show business!?”)