The work will premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival's Nikos Stage on July 21 for a run through Aug. 1. Also in the cast are Michael C. Hall (Chicago), Henry Stram (Titanic), Mary Testa (Marie Christine), and Tom Wopat (Annie Get Your Gun).
LaChiusa's modern retelling of the Medea story, Marie Christine, produced at Lincoln Center Theater in 1999, provided the four-time Tony-winner McDonald with her sole leading Broadway role to date. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards, but won none, closing its limited run on Jan. 9, 2000. McDonald has also recorded several LaChiusa songs on her solo albums.
R Shomon is drawn from the short stories of Ryonsuke Akutagawa (also the inspiration the classic Kurosawa film "Rashomon"). The piece is described as concerning "A park. A thief. A priest. A psychic. A murder. A miracle." The film concerned the divergent and conflicting eyewitness accounts surrounding a rape and a murder in a remote wooded area. With each new bit of information, the truth surrounding the incident becomes less easy to comprehend.
WTF producer Michael Ritchie, whose last season at WTF is this summer, told Playbill On-Line the show is composed of two one-act musicals. "The first act is about perspective. The second is about faith," said Ritchie. "It's quite ambitious in its intellectual aspirations." A five-piece orchestra will sit on stage. Ted Sperling directs.
Williamstown productions often find their way to New York City. Should Tony-winner McDonald remain attached to the project, that would seem a likely fate for R Shomon. LaChiusa's other musicals include First Lady Suite, The Wild Party, Little Fish and The Petrified Prince.
Sets will be designed by Thomas Lynch (who designed McDonald's last assignment, Broadway's A Raisin in the Sun). Costumes are by Susan Hilferty, lighting by Christopher Akerlind, and sound by Acme Sound Partners.