While playwright Kenneth Lonergan enjoys the Off-Broadway success of his latest work, Lobby Hero, the play that kicked off his current run of good luck — This Is Our Youth — is getting a new mounting at the Berkshire Theatre Festival's Unicorn Theatre. The production, directed by Oliver Butler, began on June 14 and runs through July 14.
This Is Our Youth, which draws on Lonergan's own experiences growing up in Manhattan during the 1980's, looks at a triangle of feckless, unfocused trust fund kids as they pose, pontificate, and vacillate between harmless and dangerous, but always empty, pursuits. The play was originally produced by The New Group Off-Broadway. Mark Brokaw directed Josh Hamilton, Mark Ruffalo and Missy Yeager.
The Mainstage season at the 2001 Berkshire Theatre Festival begins on June 21 with a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan classic comic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore. Official opening is June 22 for a run through July 7. A talk-back will occur after the June 25 performance.
With Pinafore, James Warwick begins his reign in the Berkshires. He will direct the musical, and will star in the season closer, a revival of My Fair Lady. Eric Hill will direct a cast which also features Maureen O'Flynn as Eliza Doolittle. Pinafore first opened in London in 1878. The comic show, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most lasting achievements, concerns a collection of sailors and lovers, and takes on "romance and intrigue, the mystery of changelings, not to mention the notorious rigid class structure of 19th Century England." Other Gilbert & Sullivan operettas include Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Gondoliers and The Pirates Of Penzance.
In other Fest news, The Smell of the Kill, a black comedy by Michele Lowe set to play the Berkshire Theatre Festival this summer, may eventually land in New York City. Christopher Ashley will direct Kate Finneran, Kristen Johnston and Claudia Shear star in the piece, which runs July 31-Aug. 11.
Ashley, speaking to Playbill On-Line at the Tony Nominees Luncheon at Manhattan's Marriott Marquis on May 16, said producers Mel Nugent and Elizabeth McCann have long been attached to the project and that if all goes well the plan is to move the show to Manhattan sometime in 2001.
In The Smell of the Kill, three wives plan revenge on their complacent, golf-loving husbands. Shear wrote and starred in Dirty Blonde, which played Broadway up until earlier this year. Johnston is well known from the sitcom "Third Rock From the Sun." He stage credits include The Skin of Our Teeth in Central Park. Finneran's many credits include Arms and the Man Off-Broadway and The Iceman Cometh on Broadway.
Christopher Ashley recently directed Off-Broadway's Newyorkers and The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway, for which he received his first Tony nomination. Future projects include David Lindsay-Abaire's Wonder of the World at Manhattan Theatre Club this fall.
The Main Stage schedule runs as follows:
• Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, directed by James Warwick, June 21-July 7 (opening June 22)
• Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, starring Dylan McDermott, July 10-28 (opening July 11)
• The Smell of the Kill by Michele Lowe, directed by Christopher Ashley, July 31-Aug. 11 (opening Aug. 1)
• My Fair Lady, directed by Eric Hill, Aug. 14-Sept. 1 (opening Aug. 15)
The smaller Unicorn Theatre will feature August Strindberg's A Dream Play, directed by Eric Hill (July 18-Aug. 4); and A Pound of Flesh by Michael Bolus (Aug. 8-18).
For more information, call (413) 298-3368, or consult www.berkshiretheatre.org.
—By Robert Simonson