Hay Fever's Family Bliss Includes Stanton, Gilpin, Van Nostrand at Westport

News   Hay Fever's Family Bliss Includes Stanton, Gilpin, Van Nostrand at Westport The Westport Country Playhouse, which sent Our Town to Broadway this season, will open its 2003 summer line-up with one of Noel Coward's classic comedies, Hay Fever, running June 4-21.

The cast will include dependable players such as Jack Gilpin, Amy Van Nostrand, Robert Stanton and Tessa Auberjonois. Also in the cast are Sarah Hudnut, Austin Lysy, Denny Dillon, Timothy Carter and Arden Myrin.

Darko Tresnjak, for whom a summer doesn't pass without a few directing assignments in New England, will stage the story of the Blisses, a family of artists and artistic temperaments who invite people to their country house only to taunt and terrorize them. The play is based on Coward's own experiences visiting the home of American actress Laurette Taylor and her playwright husband J. Hartley Manners. The couple would often insist their guests play party games and then criticize them for their poor performances.

Van Nostrand will play the Taylor role, Judith Bliss. Van Nostrand is a New England circuit regular, having played many roles at Trinity Rep in Providence, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Huntington Stage in Boston. Gilpin, who portrays tyrannical family patriarch and terrible novelist David Bliss (based on terrible playwright Manners), is an expert as playing WASPS, having appeared in many plays by A.R. Gurney Off-Broadway and elsewhere.

The young Blisses, Sorel and Simon, will be performed by Hudnet and Lysy, both veterans of 2002's Williamstown schedule.

Stanton, meanwhile, is remembered in New York for All in the Timing, Fuddy Meers, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and many other productions. He will be Richard Greatham, one of the Bliss' unfortunate guests. Another weekender is Myra Arundel, played by Aberjonois, the daughter of actor Rene (City of Angels, Dance of the Vampires). *

As for the rest of the season, James Naughton will direct The Good German by local playwright David Wiltse. The play "tells the story of a couple who, against the objections of the husband, harbors a Jewish publisher under the nose of their Nazi friend. Dangerous circumstances force all concerned to examine attitudes of morality, hate, and human decency." It runs June 25-July 12.

Jill Clayburgh will star opposite Richard Dreyfuss in the new Doug Hughes-directed version of the Arthur Miller classic All My Sons. Dreyfuss will play Joe Keller, a father with a guilty secret about his two sons, one killed in WWII, the other one questioning the nature of his sibling's death. Clayburgh will play his wife, Kate, who stands by him despite mounting evidence of his guilt.

Clayburgh appeared with Dreyfuss in The Exonerated Off-Broadway. In the early '70s, she starring in the original Broadway companies of The Rothschilds and Pippin. Later, she appeared in Design for Living as Gilda, opposite Raul Julia and Frank Langella. She is still well remembered for a string of films in the '70s, including "An Unmarried Woman," "Silver Streak" and "Starting Over."

Dreyfuss has booked a lot of theatre of late. In New York, he's done a brief stint in Off-Broadway's The Exonerated and is set to put in a one night-only appearance in Trumbo at the Westside. All My Sons, which runs Aug. 6-23, would mark his most sustained engagement to date.

Completing the season are The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood, directed by Tazewell Thompson (July 16-Aug. 2); and The Streets of New York, the musical which recently played at Irish Rep Off-Broadway, directed by Charlotte Moore (Aug. 26-Sept. 13).

The Westport Country Playhouse is located at 25 Powers Court, just off Post Road East (Route 1). Season subscriptions are on sale now. Remaining tickets will go on sale May 19. For subscriptions, call (203) 226-0153. For more information, contact the box office at (203) 227-4177 or visit westportcountryplayhouse.org.