On Aug. 4, Gwyneth Paltrow will go from bedding Shakespeare to speaking his words. The film actress, who years ago cut her acting teeth at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, has returned to that Massachusetts theatre to star in As You Like It, her first stage turn since winning the 1999 Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love." The production plays through Aug. 15.
Paltrow will play the comedy's heroine, Rosalind, who -- like Viola, her character in "Shakespeare in Love" -- dons men's clothing to win her man.
Paltrow began her career at Williamstown with 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.
Also in the cast is Lea DeLaria (see Playbill On-Line's related feature on DeLaria). DeLaria will play Audrey, a country wench. This is the comic actress' first foray into Shakespeare. Since making a hit in the Public Theater's revival of On the Town, DeLaria has jumped from one theatrical project to the next. Within weeks of closing in On the Town, she took over the Becky Ann Baker role in Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. After that folded, she took her solo cabaret show to Joe's Pub.
Completing the cast are Mark Linn-Baker as Touchstone, Michael Cumpsty as Jaques, Alessandro Nivola as Orlando, and Tom Bloom, John Ellison Conlee, Megan Dodds, Denis Holmes, Byron Jennnings, Keith Byron Kirk, Bruce MacVittie, Larry Marshall, Angelina Phillips, Mark K. Smaltz, Stephen Barker Turner, Sam Breslin Wright. Linn-Baker is known for his comic turns in Broadway musicals such as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and comedies like Laughter on the 23rd Floor. He will play the clown Touchstone in As You Like It.
Cumpsty will speak the famous "All the world's a stage" speech as Jaques. Cumpsty was recently seen on Broadway in the Zoe Wanamaker production of Electra. His other roles include La Bete and Racing Demon.
The remaining season schedule, which runs June 16-Aug. 29, runs as follows:
The Main Stage:
As You Like It (Aug. 4-15), starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Rosalind, Mark Linn-Baker as Touchstone, Michael Cumpsty as Jaques and Alessandra Navola as Orlando.
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 several cabaret acts and play readings.
For information, call (413) 597-3399.
--By Robert Simonson