>Aaron Cromie divides his creative time between directing and designing a fantastical world of theatrical creatures. His recent projects included puppets for the Barrymore nominated hit plays The Foocy and The Long Christmas Ride Home. Cromie is making his Shakespearean directing debut with Henry V, without a mask in sight, at the Classical Acting Academy, the summer training wing at Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. Cromie adapted the lengthy play into a lean adventurous drama aimed at young audiences.
He wanted to make this historical drama adventurous, relevant and fun. The set is a prep school history class and on the board reads ‘Parts will be assigned at the start of class. BE PREPARED.’ This Academy cast may be at the start of their professional careers (most are in their early 20s) but they are anything but green. Sports equipment becomes weapons, crowds and horses are called up on a laptop computer and the desk and chairs become battlements and trenches. The simple design keeps all the focus on the acting and the dialogue, and this ensemble of nine and fun.
The play is still the thing even in the dog days of August, because Henry opened to a sold out audience.
This Henry has plenty of drama, but Cromie also knows how to elicit sharp, stylized humor. All of the eight students play multiple parts with each having meaty moments. This cast makes up a tight ensemble that frames a lithe & muscled performance by Michael Gregory as Henry V.