Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

'Tricksters' give new meaning to family drama


November 30, 2017

Kyle Clayton

Haines' newest theater troupe "The Merry Tricksters of Haines," debuted its first performance of James Goldman's "The Lion in Winter" last weekend, a play that for the cast blurs the lines between the living room and the stage.

The Tricksters is very much a family affair, headed by matriarch Amanda Randles. Her children, Riyan and Dominick Stossel and Gina Randles, are actors and actresses along with close friends Ryan Staska and Jedediah Blum-Evitts.

Randles also plays the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the scheming mother of Riyan and Dominick Stossel's characters, who are vying for power as they await the death of their father, King Henry II.

"I do find myself having to remember that I am neither their director nor at that moment their mother and I don't get to say 'Hey shut up. Pay attention,'" Amanda Randles said. "But I am playing their mother. It's very weird."

Although Randles is the unofficial leader of the group, Mark Zeiger stepped up for his directorial debut.

Although Zeiger has acted all his life (as an infant he played the baby Jesus in a play in Utqiagvik), he's never had the desire to direct until last Christmas when he watched the 1968 film "The Lion in Winter" starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

"I got to thinking I would really love to play Henry in this and thought why not try to direct it myself," Zeiger said. "I'm also acting in it while directing, which is kind of silly for a first time. I've bitten off possibly more than I can chew but it does seem to be working ...I really like being the one who is driving the vision."

"The Lion in Winter" is set in medieval France during Christmas at King Henry's chateau. Henry has planned for his son Richard, played by Staska, to be his successor. But Henry's estranged wife Eleanor, along with his progeny, have other plans, and in true "Game of Thrones" fashion, scheming, backstabbing and fornication ensue.

Geoffrey, played by Riyan Stossel, plots with the heir to the French throne to make war on England. But he also needs his mother, who favors Richard, as an ally.

Kyle Clayton

From left: Ryan Staska plays Richard and Mark Zeiger plays King Henry III. Geoffrey is Henry's choice for successor. Henry's other children and estranged wife have different plans. "The Lion in Winter" will be performed Dec. 1 and 2 at the Chilkat Center.

"Eleanor really is the key to power and if he can somehow get into her good graces he can win the throne," Zeiger said. "He's playing all sides. He's made deals with everyone."

Riyan Stossel said he has manipulated his brother not only onstage but in real life as well.

"But that's only so he does his chores and homework," Riyan Stossel said.

The Tricksters will perform the show again Dec. 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 for individuals, $12 for students and seniors and $40 for a family. It runs about two hours with an intermission.

As far as future Tricksters performances go, Amanda Randles said the family is acting true to form.

"There's certainly a couple of different things we've been plotting and scheming," she said.

Randles stepped away from the Lynn Canal Community Players last year in an effort to bring different styles of performances to Haines. She has a background in improvisation and interactive comedy dealing with small town Alaska themes.


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