A 50th anniversary production of Beckett's existential classic, Waiting for Godot , starring John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub and Christopher Lloyd, begins the Classic Stage Company's 31st year -- its first under the aegis of artistic director Barry Edelstein and producing director Beth Emelson.
Director Andrei Belgrader returns to CSC, where he staged Scapin with Stanley Tucci and Rameau's Nephew with Shalhoub, to direct the Samuel Beckett classic. CSC's outgoing artistic director David Esbjornson will supervise this production and stay with the theatre through the show's opening, Nov. 18. Previews for Godot began Nov. 10, and the engagement concludes Dec. 20.
The cast also includes Richard Spore as the mostly-mute Lucky, and Amadeo Turturro as the young boy. Sets will be designed by Andrei Both, costumes by Beth Clancy, and lights by Michael Chybowski.
Turturro's film credits include: "Rounders," "He Got Game," "The Big Lebowski," "Quiz Show," and "Jungle Fever."
Shalhoub is best known for his role as taxi driver Antonio on NBC's sitcom "Wings." he has appeared in several movies including the now playing "Impostors," "Big Night," "Primary Colors," and "Men in Black." He has acted on Broadway in Conversations With My Father , and The Heidi Chronicles . Mad-eyed actor Lloyd is probably best known as burned-out cabbie Reverend Jim Ignatowski on TV's "Taxi," but he's also appeared as Doc Brown in the three "Back to the Future" films, as well as playing Uncle Fester in the two recent "Addams Family" films.
In conjunction with Godot, CSC is sponsoring a play reading and symposium. On Nov. 30, CSC will read a play that pre-dates Godot -- Beckett's Eleutheria, unproduced, unpublished and basically unknown until the late 80's when Beckett gave the manuscript to a publisher friend of his. Also of note is a Nov. 21, symposium entitled "Beckett Beyond the Grave" given by Beckett scholar and theatre critic Jonathan Kalb.
Beckett, one of the few playwrights to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, is considered one of the quintessential playwrights of the twentieth century, although a majority of his plays have never seen Broadway. Godot premiered in 1953 at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris. While the play's meaning confused a majority of audience members, the success of its American debut is largely attributed to Bert Lahr starring as Estragon.
Other works by Beckett include Krapp's Last Tape, Act Without Words I & II, Happy Days, Endgame.
Godot recently was the topic of a legal dispute at Washington D.C.'s Studio Theatre. The production received a "cease and desist" order from the Beckett estate's legal representitive because of a review run in the New York Times. The mixed race production, which Studio Theatre alleges "reflected the traditions of American black vaudeville", has been allowed to continue, through the personal intercession of Edward Beckett, the playwright's nephew and heir.
Edelstein will take charge of CSC officially with the second offering of the season: the American premiere of Martin Crimp's new translation of Moliere's comic masterpiece, The Misanthrope. Edelstein will direct Tony winner Roger Rees in the title role. This production runs Jan. 26-Feb. 28, 1999.
Concluding the season, Mar. 16-Apr. 11, 1999, will be a dance-theatre adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's A Simple Heart , created and co directed by Paul Lazar and choreographer Annie-B. Parson.
Augmenting these offerings will be readings, roundtable forums, discussions with scholars and theatre practitioners. A look at Beckett in the context of 1940's Europe, along with a consideration of his antecedents and his influences, will surround Godot . And a "Moliere Festival," comprising readings of other Moliere translations and adaptations, will accompany The Misanthrope .
CSC will also continue its tradition of Tuesday night post-performance discussions with the company and artistic staff, and Saturday afternoon symposia with academic experts on the season's plays.
New artistic director Edelstein, a Rhodes scholar, trained as a dramaturg and assistant director on the NY Shakespeare Festival's Shakespeare marathon. He went on to stage The Merchant of Venice and Steve Martin's Wasp and Other Plays at the Public Theatre. Other credits include How I Learned To Drive at MD's Center Stage and shows at RI's Trinity Rep and the NJ Shakespeare Festival.