With Sheldon Harnick and Marlo Thomas leading the way, eight theatre events will comprise the 1997 Berkshire Theatre Festival in western Massachusetts.
Harnick has written the book for a new musical, called Good Company, to be directed at the festival by Michael Montel (July 8-19). Subtitled "songs that made it from shows that didn't," Good Company will incorporate such standards as "On The Sunny Side Of The Street," "I've Got A Crush On You" and "It's Only A Paper Moon." The official opening is July 9. Harnick is the lyricist for Fiddler On The Roof and She Loves Me.
Thomas, best known as TV's That Girl and for her Broadway performance in a revival of The Shadow Box, will star in Alan Ayckbourn's Woman In Mind, directed by Gordon Edelstein. This poignant comedy runs July 22-Aug. 9, with an official opening July 23.
Also on the mainstage will be Four Of A Kind, comprising four one act comedies by Anton Chekhov. The evening (June 19-July 5) opens June 20.
Ending the mainstage season (Aug.12-Aug. 30) will be the comedy Over The River And Through The Woods, by Joe Di Pietro, author of the Off Broadway musical, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. Joel Bishoff directs this look at family values, opening Aug. 13. Four one-act plays by Thornton Wilder will make up Wilder, Wilder, hitting the New Unicorn Theatre July 1-26. (The New Unicorn serves as the Berkshire Fest's second stage.) Based on the idea of Broadway's Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, Wilder will offer Infancy, Childhood, The Happy Journey To Camden And Trenton and Pullman Car Hiawatha. (The latter two one-acts were inWilder, Wilder, Wilder.) Eric Hill directs.
Following WWW will be Quills, Doug Wright's look at the Marquis de Sade, running Aug. 7-23. Rick Corley directs the piece, which was staged at New York Theatre Workshop last season.
Now in its 13th year, the Young American Playwright Program gives fourth-seventh graders a chance to develop short plays. At the end of the school year, two are chosen for production, and those will be staged July 11-Aug. 2, and Aug. 8-Aug. 29 in the Fest's "Theatre Under The Tent For Families."
Lecture series and poetry readings will also be part of the Berkshire Festival, which is run by artistic director Arthur Storch and managing director Kate Maguire. Storch founded Syracuse Stage in 1974.
For tickets and information on the 69th annual Berkshire Theatre Festival season, call (413) 298-5576.
--By David Lefkowitz