Have gun, will travel.
Kate Burton is heading north (perhaps, toward the border?) with her Hedda Gabler. Burton premiered her frustrated turn-of-the-century Norwegian housewife, unhindered by strong gun-control laws, at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island, earlier this summer.
Now, the Jon Robin Baitz adaptation of Ibsen's classic opens at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 19. It will run through July 30. Co starring in the production, directed by Nicholas Martin, are Harris Yulin and Michael Emerson. Emerson appeared with Burton in Give Me Your Answer Do! Off-Broadway. Yulin returns to Williamstown after acting there in last summer's The Price -- a production which eventually moved on to Broadway.
* In other news, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has assembled a group of both rising and veteran New York stage talents to populate its Aug. 16 27 revival of Moss Hart's Light Up the Sky. Newly announced members of the cast include Tony winner Ron Rifkin, Peter Bartlett and T. Scott Cunningham. They join Eric Stoltz, Frank Wood, Jessica Hecht, Enid Graham and Angelina Phillips.
Rifkin won a Tony for his performance at Herr Schultz in the Broadway revival of Cabaret. Still, he is perhaps best known for his searing turns in the Jon Robin Baitz plays The Substance of Fire and Three Hotels. His most recent Broadway turn was as the acerbic poet in David Hirson's short-lived Wrong Mountain. Peter Bartlett is a regular in the work of Paul Rudnick, including Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Cunningham, meanwhile, is perhaps best remembered for his various unhinged portrayals in the plays of Nicky Silver, including Pterodactyls and Fit to Be Tied.
Phillips and Graham have worked together before, in CSC Repertory's Off Broadway revival of Look Back in Anger last fall. Phillips starred in WTF's All My Sons several seasons back, a production which traveled to New York and made her name in theatre circles. Graham was first noticed in the Broadway staging of Honour. She has since appeared Off-Broadway in Turn of the Screw at Primary Stages.
Frank Wood won a Tony for her performance as a feckless trumpet play in Side Man by Warren Leight (whose Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine was seen at Williamstown last summer). Hecht, meanwhile, is a darling of Gotham critics, winning plaudits for her appearances in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Stop Kiss, Plunge and Lobster Alice.
Thrown into this mix is Eric Stoltz, a veteran film actor ("Pulp Fiction") who occasionally graces stages in New York (Three Sisters) and Williamstown (The Glass Menagerie).
Hart's backstage comedy will be directed by Christopher Ashley, the helmsman behind such shows as Jeffrey and As Thousands Cheer.
The American premiere of Simon Gray's The Late Middle Classes, which will run at the Williamstown Theatre Festival July 26-Aug. 6, will be a family affair. Featured in the cast will be Daniel Gerroll, as a character named Holly, and Daniel's son Benjamin Gerroll, fittingly as Young Holly.
Daniel Gerroll is fast becoming the new Brian Murray of New York -- that is, a ubiquitous actor who is never not working and manages to cram in three to four assignments a season. Over the last twelve months, he has acted in An Experiment with an Air Pump, at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Messenger, at the Rattlestick Theatre, What You Get and What You Expect, at New York Theatre Workshop, and, just a couple weeks ago, The Constant Wife, at Westport Country Theatre.
Benjamin Gerroll will be making his WTF debut in Classes. At the Buckley school in NYC, however, he has been seen at Toad in The Wind in the Willows and Isaac the square dance caller in The Devil and Daniel Webster.
Gerroll is not a stranger to the work of Britisher Simon Gray. Long memoried New York theatregoers may remember him spitting out vitriol whilst standing in his underwear as the egotistic, sybaritic publisher in Gray's The Holy Terror.
The Late Middle Classes is set in the 1950s in England, where Young Holly "navigates a troublesome relationship with his piano teacher amidst his parents' attempts to invigorate their drab daily existence." The play caused a bit of a furor in London last year, when it was beaten to a West End slot by the short-lived musical Boyband, provoking a vitriolic attack on commercial theatre by director Harold Pinter. It later won the award for Best New Play in the 1999 Barclays Theatre Awards.
Also in the WTF cast are Tom Bloom, Lisa Harrow and Lucille Patton. Roger Rees (Arms and the Man) directs.
In further news, the Williamstown Theatre Festival scotched its scheduled production of Frank Pugliese's The Talk, which was to have opened July 12 and run through July 23, and plugged in A.R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices. A spokesman for the fest said it was decided that the Pugliese work was in need of further development, resulting in the sudden substitution.
Scott Ellis, who was to have staged The Talk, will instead pilot Voices. The cast of the show, in which the actors read from scripts, includes Josh Hamilton and Maureen Anderman (both seen in The Waverly Gallery Off-Broadway this past spring), Richard Easton, Marian Seldes (The Skin of Our Teeth) and Jessica Hecht (Lobster Alice).
Pugliese is author of such plays as Aven `U Boys and Hope Is the Thing with Feathers.
Ancestral Voices is getting a work-out in the Northeast this summer. A second production, at the Westport Country Playhouse -- and featuring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and James Naughton, among others -- opens July 10 and runs almost concurrently with the WTF staging. The Gurney play debuted at Lincoln Center Theatre last fall.
Spanning the centuries in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth will be Kristine Nielsen, Marian Seldes, Bill Smitrovich and Kali Rocha. The play runs Aug. 2-13 on the Main Stage and is directed by Darko Tresnjak.
Nielsen and Smitrovich will play Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, the heros of Wilder's fantastical, slightly absurd fable of human existence and endurance. Nielsen should be used to odd theatrical worlds by now, veteran, as she is, of Julie Taymor's The Green Bird and Christopher Durang's Betty's Summer Vacation. Smitrovich is more a by-the book type, having played countless generals, captains and colonels in such films as "Independence Day," "Air Force One" and "Fail Safe."
Seldes will play the Fortune Teller. After many years of seldom being seen on the stage, Seldes has been an omnipresence of late, rarely seen off the stage. In the past year, she's gone from Ring Round the Moon on Broadway to Dear Liar and The Torch Bearers Off-Broadway.
Rocha will play eternal seductress Sabina, having just finished a run as a different sort of scarlet women in The Constant Wife at Westport Country Playhouse, under the direction of Joanne Woodward.
-- By Robert Simonson