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Grove to Replace 2 Offerings of ’92 Season : Theater: ‘Henry IV, Parts I and II’ is being dropped because it’s too hard to stage, and rights to ‘Love Letters’ couldn’t be obtained.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Grove Shakespeare Festival is reshaping its 1992 season, dropping one announced play because it is too difficult to stage and another because performance rights could not be obtained.

The Grove board has decided against staging Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Parts I and II,” which were to be combined and mounted as a single history play adapted by acting artistic director Jules Aaron. It has been replaced by “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” a comedy.

“We wanted something lighter,” Grove spokeswoman Dede Ginter said Thursday, further asserting that Aaron “doesn’t have the time to do a proper adaptation” and that he had concurred with the board’s decision. Aaron, who is directing Charles Ludlam’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep” for the New Mexico Repertory in Santa Fe, could not be reached for comment.

A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” will also be replaced on the schedule, Ginter said, possibly by “The Cocktail Hour” or “The Dining Room,” both also by Gurney. “We don’t have a contract yet for either of them,” she said. “They’re under discussion.”

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Ginter noted that “Love Letters” had been announced earlier in the expectation that performance rights would become available with the closing of a celebrity production of the play at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills. When it resumed there after a break, however, “the rights were restricted,” she said.

The Grove expects to name a new permanent artistic director by Feb. 15, after which the rest of the 1992 season will be filled in, Ginter said. Eight people have applied for the job. She declined to identify them.

Former artistic director Thomas F. Bradac was ousted last summer. Aaron, a regular guest director at the Grove who stepped in immediately for Bradac, made it clear from the outset that he would not be a permanent replacement.

As it now stands, the 1992 subscription season will open at the Gem with the unnamed Gurney play (May 7 to June 13) followed by a musical (July 8 to Aug. 8) and an American classic (Oct. 1 to 24). At the outdoor Festival Amphitheatre, “Macbeth” (June 25 to July 25) will be followed by “The Tempest” (July 30 to Aug. 29) and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (Sept. 3 to 26).

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Two non-subscription offerings (not including the Grove’s annual production of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”) have also been planned for 1992: Salome Jens will star at the Gem in a one-woman show about Marlene Dietrich, “Falling in Love Again” (Jan. 15 to Feb 16), and David Birney will star at the amphitheater in his adaptation of a work by Mark Twain, “The Secret Diaries of Adam and Eve” (May 1 to 17).

During the 1991 season, the Grove had 2,169 subscribers for its three outdoor offerings at the 550-seat amphitheater and 1,336 for its indoor shows at the 172-seat Gem.


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