Allison Janney and Jay O. Sanders will spar as Kate and Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater production of The Taming of the Shrew in Central Park June 17-July 11.
Lending comic support are Mario Cantone (Love! Valour! Compassion!) as Grumio and Max Wright (Lincoln Center's Ivanov and Twelfth Night) as Christopher Sly. Erika Alexander (TV's "Living Single") will play Bianca.
Also in the cast are Regina Bellantese, Reg E. Cathey, Magaly Colimon, Danyon Davis, Scott Denny, Ramon De Ocampo, MacIntyre Dixon, Dion Flynn, Damon Gupton, Stephen Mo Hanan, Peter Jacobson, Tom Mardirosian, Don Mayo, Olga Merediz, Rio Puertollano, Evan Robertson and Chad Smith. Mel Shapiro directs. Designers are Karl Eigsti (sets), Marina Draghici (costumes) and Brian MacDevitt (lights). Original music is by composer Mark Bennett.
Casting for Moliere's classic comedy, Tartuffe, the second NYSF/Public Theater production at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park (Aug. 10-Sept. 5), has not been announced. Mark Brokaw will pilot the Moliere comedy.
Shrew's Allison Janney is known for her performances in Broadway's Present Laughter and A View From the Bridge, as well as Off-Broadway's Blue Window. Sanders appeared in King John with the NYSF at the Delacorte and in National Actors Theatre's St. Joan. *
The Public Theater mounted the play at the Delacorte in 1990, in a production which starred Morgan Freeman and Tracey Ullman.
Tartuffe concerns a venal and libidinous religious hypocrite who holds a household under his thrall until being exposed for what he is. When first presented in 1664 France, the sharp satire created such a furor that the pious of Paris suppressed the play. It was not performed for another three years, and then in an altered version.
Tartuffe will mark a change of pace for Brokaw, who is best known in New York for his work on contemporary plays such as The Dying Gaul, This Is Our Youth and 2.5 Minute Ride. Regionally, Brokaw has recently mounted productions of The Glass Menagerie and A Month in the Country.
In recent seasons, the Public has scheduled works other than Shakespeare's for the park season. Last year, for instance, saw a revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. In 1997, George C. Wolfe mounted the musical On the Town, later bringing it to Broadway in a revised form.