Colorado actor on the rise: Ben Bonenfant
“In Henry V, Bonenfant’s performance steadily but gently reveals the last vestiges of his character’s ambivalence. His performance captures the subtle differences betwixt good and special.”
Last summer actor Ben Bonenfant took to the stage as Prince Hal in Colorado Shakespeare Festival‘s productions of “Henry IV: Parts 1 and 2.” Now the handsome 26-year-old can be found rousing his compatriots to breach. In “Henry V,” Hal becomes Hank; prince becomes a king before our eyes.
It’s good to be king, perhaps. It’s even better to have a such a fine vantage point to witness a talented actor becoming one of the state’s most promising performers.
Colorado is no stranger to the successes of homegrown actors. Monday night, for instance, the Denver Center flew in its “Unsinkable Molly Brown” star, Beth Malone, to do a live performance at the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards ceremony. (She won Outstanding Actress.)
The recent Tony nominee for “Fun Home,” Malone grew up in Douglas County. So, too, did Amy Adams, who did her song-and-dance time at Country Dinner Playhouse. In 2013, Denver School of the Arts alum Gabe Ebert won the Tony for performance in “Matilda.” Bonenfant’s ascent teases us with a new name to add to a lengthening roster. Though he’d never boast.
“I never thought I’d be playing Henry V,” Bonenfant says over breakfast at Dot’s Diner on the Hill in Boulder. He’s temporarily moved from his Denver rental to be closer to his summer-time turf. It wasn’t until he was halfway through last summer’s plays, he says, that he realized he might be in line for Hank’s throne.
“I had never made the cognitive leap from Hal to Hank. I thought of him as this stand-alone guy and never put him in that larger context. I wasn’t that kind of actor. I was too young. I wasn’t a ‘king type.’ What I really wasn’t understanding about the transition from Hal to Hank is thetipping point from one type intoanother. He has to become king, and he spills right into it.”
That description is an apt one for Bonenfant’s own trajectory.
“It’s the right timing for Ben to assume the mantle of this kind of role,” says Mare Trevathan, associate artistic director of Local Theater Company. In 2012, the Boulder-based outfit cast him as the lead in its inaugural full-length production, “Elijah: An Adventure,” written by Michael Mitnick.
“The character of Elijah, a lot of things get done to him,” she says. “He’s not in charge. As is the case with Hal. But Henry is in charge. The actor who plays Henry is the one who sets the pace and leads the way. It’s going to be a transformational role.”