Tennessee Williams' expressionistic drama Camino Real is experiencing an unlikely rash of popularity. High profile productions of the 1953 play include a summer staging at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and a Spring 2000 mounting at Washington DC's Shakespeare Theatre, featuring Michael Hayden as Kilroy. A scene from the play was also presented by Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach in their Tennessee Williams Remembered duet a few weeks back Off-Broadway.
However, the most star-powered mounting of all will likely be the one currently in rehearsal at CT's Hartford Stage. Betty Buckley and Rip Torn are co-starring in a staging of Camino by artistic director Michael Wilson. Buckley, whose recent shows have included The Triumph of Love on Broadway and Gypsy at NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse, essays the role of Marguerite. Torn, best known for playing the acerbic producer on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," plays Casanova. James Colby is featured as Kilroy.
Earlier in 1999, Playbill On-Line reported that Buckley was considering taking the role of Alexandra Del Lago in a fall production of Sweet Bird of Youth at La Jolla Playhouse. Instead, owing to her concert schedule, the actress is doing a month-long run of Camino, Sept. 9-Oct. 10. Previous Buckley credits are mostly musical -- Cats, Carrie, Sunset Boulevard -- though she did appear in Nicky Silver's comedy drama, The Eros Trilogy, at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre. Torn's last Broadway assignment was Horton Foote's Pulitzer-winning The Young Man From Atlanta.
Camino Real is set in a fictional port that resembles Casablanca or Tangiers, and the theatre's official press release further explains that the Williams play is "populated with heroes and dreamers of literature and history, including Kilroy, Camille, Casanova, the arch-romantic Don Quixote and the poet Lord Byron."
Director Wilson said in a statement that Camino Real "is a marvelous fiesta of song and dance, color and activity. At the same time it contains some of Tennessee's most moving poetry and touching descriptions of heartache and longing. It is a theatrical banquet and one of the largest productions I have directed. I am particularly happy," he added, "that James Colby is returning, and that two truly remarkable artists, Betty Buckley and Rip Torn, are playing two of the most famous lovers of all time." *
In other Hartford Stage news, the "Summer Stage" series, an initiative by new artistic director Wilson, concludes its season Aug. 22. Rhoda Lerman's Eleanor -- Her Secret began performances Aug. 13 and is a portrait of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt starring Jean Stapleton and directed by John Tillinger.
Stapleton recently appeared on the Hartford stage playing a part in Horton Foote's The Death of Papa. Her other theatre credits include Moliere's The Learned Ladies and Pinter's Mountain Language, both at New York's CSC Rep, a frequent haunt of Stapleton's. On television, Stapleton is well remembered for her long run as Edith Bunker on "All in the Family."
"Summer Stage" began earlier this summer with a return engagement of Hartford Stage's 1998 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. For information on Camino Real or Eleanor call Hartford Stage (860) 527-5151.
-- By David Lefkowitz, Andrew Gans & Robert Simonson