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Jeanine Kane Takes the Throne in 'King Elizabeth'

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Apr 18, 2017

Stage veteran Jeanine Kane stars as Queen Elizabeth I in the Gamm's production of "King Elizabeth."

Director Tony Estrella adapted Friedrich Schiller's "Mary Stuart," which pits Mary, the ousted queen of Scotland, against the reigning queen of England in a titanic battle of wills.

Kane's co-star is Marianna Bassham, who previously starred as Blanche Dubois in the Gamm's production of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Kane embraced the challenge of bringing Elizabeth to life in a way that shows her strength as well as her vulnerability.

"It's always a little bit difficult when you're playing an actual historical character," Kane told EDGE. "What attracted me (to the role) was the dynamic of being a dominant female in a completely male-dominated world at the time and what she had to do to create her identity and her space as a monarch."

"(Elizabeth)" was an intelligent woman, she was an educated woman, she was a level-headed woman," Kane continued. "Her most important thing in her life was the people. That's who she wanted to serve."

Kane has appeared in several shows at the Gamm, including "The House of Blue Leaves," "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "A Doll's House," "Macbeth," "Much Ado About Nothing," and most recently, "Arcadia."

Kane also welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Estrella, with whom she acted in "Macbeth."

"He knows what works for me in terms of my process," Kane said. "He has identified what works for each actor. (As the writer), he is so invested in the script and bringing it to life."

Kane grew up in Hingham, MA and had considered going to law school while attending Stonehill College. Kane went on to study at Trinity Conservatory. The experience led her to pursue a career in theater.

"I went to a relatively small Catholic college - very insular, and (Trinity) opened my eyes to the world of theater, the world of diversity, how much was out there, the possibilities in the world, and the possibilities within myself," Kane recalled. "I hadn't really thought about that or explored it. Probably the best years of my life were spent studying there."

Although "King Elizabeth" takes place many years ago, its themes and the characters will hit a chord with audiences, according to Kane.

The play explores "the different ways (Elizabeth and Mary) have to deal with their femininity in their societies," Kane said. "A lot of that hasn't changed in the workplace. It's about dealing with patriarchy and either change yourself into something else or give in to it and play the system. There are some pretty difficult decisions for both of them to have to make and I think a lot of that will resonate."

King Elizabeth runs from April 27-May 28 at The Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket, RI. Tickets are $44 and $52; preview performances (April 27-30) are $33. Call 401-723-4266 or order online at gammtheatre.org.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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