For awhile it seemed the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts would be adding a never-ending procession of stars to its roster. After all, this season's shows feature such luminaries as Bebe Neuwirth, Gwyneth Paltrow, David Schwimmer, Harris Yulin and Ethan Hawke. Delete one star from the line-up, however, as word comes that Eric Stoltz will no longer be playing Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Jefferson Mays will instead take the role in Tom Stoppard's dark comedy.
Running June 30-July 11, R&G Are D is directed by Darko Tresnjak and co-stars Christopher Evan Welch (Off-Broadway's Scapin).
In other Williamstown news, Neuwirth, who played the shrewish Velma Kelly in Chicago, will play another kind of shrew at the Festival. She's been cast in the title role in the Roger Rees directed production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Rees stars in his own staging as Petruchio. The play will run July 7-18 on Williamstown's mainstage.
Actor Hawke will star in the festival's new staging of Tennessee Williams' seldom-staged semi-classic, Camino Real. The production will open the summer season, running June 23 to July 4 on the main stage. Nicholas Martin will direct. Hawke has appeared in such films as "Gattaca," "Before Sunrise" and "Reality Bites." He has occasionally returned to the theatre, starring in the National Actors Theatre's production of The Seagull and Steppenwolf Theatre Company's staging of Buried Child. Hawke may have also gotten bitten again by the theatre bug from seeing his wife, film star Uma Thurman, take the theatrical plunge a few weeks ago in the Classic Stage Company's updated The Misanthrope.
"Friends" star Schwimmer will take a role in The Glimmer Brothers, a world premiere of Warren Leight's play about two generations of jazz musicians, which will run July 14-25 on the smaller Nikos Stage. Leight penned the Tony nominated drama Side Man. As for Paltrow, previously announced to star as Rosalind in a new production of As You Like It, the Oscar-winner will take her direction from Barry Edelstein. Paltrow began her career at Williamstown in the 1981 production of The Greeks. Other Paltrow performances at WTF include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Picnic, The Sweet By and By and The Sea Gull. Paltrow's films include "Emma" and "Sliding Doors." Her mother, actress Blythe Danner, is a mainstay at the Massachusetts summer theatre.
Among the other stars to journey up to Williamstown this summer are Hope Davis ("The Daytrippers"); Richard Kind ("Spin City"); Viola Davis (Everybody's Ruby); Gloria Foster (Having Our Say, "The Matrix"); James McDaniel (Six Degrees of Separation); Harris Yulin (The Diary of Anne Frank); and May Lou Rosato (Once Upon a Mattress).
Davis, Foster, McDaniel and Kimberly Elise will appear in Williamstown's revival of Lorraine Hansbury's Raisin in the Sun (July 21-Aug. 1), directed by Jack Hofsiss.
Yulin will star in the James Naughton-directed production of Arthur Miller's The Price.
The season schedule, which runs June 16-Aug. 29, runs as follows:
The Main Stage:
Camino Real (June 23-July 4), Tennessee Williams' expressionistic classic, starring Ethan Hawke directed by Nicholas Martin.
The Taming of the Shrew (July 7-18), directed by Roger Rees (The Misanthrope), who also stars in the production as Petruchio.
As You Like It (Aug. 4-15), starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Rosalind, director TBA.
The Price (Aug. 18-29), Arthur Miller's play about family loyalty and responsibility, directed by James Naughton (WTF's 1997 Johnny on the Spot).
The Factory Girls (June 16-27), by Frank McGuinness, in a co-production with Long Island's Bay Street Theatre, starring Kate Burton and directed by Nye Heron.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (June 30-July 11), by Tom Stoppard, starring Jefferson Mays and Christopher Evan Welch. Darko Tresnjak directs.
The Glimmer Brothers (July 14-25), a world premiere of Warren Leight's play about two generations of jazz musicians.
Chaucer in Love (July 28-Aug. 8), John Guare's new play about pilgrims who journey to Rome to absolve their sins, directed by Martin, who successfully mounted Guare's Bosoms and Neglect at New York's Signature Theatre Company earlier this year.
The Waverly Gallery (Aug. 11-22), Kenneth Lonergan's new play about an 85-year-old Greenwich Village gallery owner who, while failing mentally, refuses to retire, directed by Scott Ellis (Steel Pier).
WTF will also present Quark Victory (July 22-31), a musical by Robert Reale and Willie Reale, at the Hunter Center for the Performing Arts; and several cabaret acts and play readings.
For information, call (413) 597-3399.
-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz