Sam Gregory, one of the most interesting and talented actors around, began his professional life working for the California Shakespeare Theater soon after graduating from college. “I made $50 a week,” he says. “Maybe $43.37 after taxes.” This summer, Gregory returns for his third season with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, playing the ghost of John Barrymore in the comedy I Hate Hamlet, and Henry IV in Henry IV, Part I. Both are being staged in rotation with The Tempest; Henry IV, Part II; and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
“It’s all about the text with Shakespeare,” Gregory says. “People come to listen, so you spend most of your time understanding the words, making them clear. When you’re doing a comedy, inevitably Shakespeare gets 90 percent of the laughs. All the shtick you add -- the funny hats, ad libs, pratfalls -- are a waste of time. And some of Shakespeare is just gorgeous fun to speak. They say iambic pentameter is the closest rhythm to a heartbeat.
“My biggest challenge this summer is getting the audience to willingly believe I’m a king for two and a half hours. We all have preconceptions about what a king should be. I want to make him human, but also uphold my duties as monarch and father.”
The CSF repertory begins tonight at 8 p.m. with The Tempest and runs through August 10, with outdoor performances at the Mary Rippon Theatre and indoor ones at University Theatre on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. For information and tickets, $10 to $64, visit coloradoshakes.org or call 303-492-8008
June 6-Aug. 10, 2014