Stratford Festival artistic director Richard Monette's staging of Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's fictionalized account of the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial, opens Aug. 14 at the Stratford Festival's flagship venue, the Festival Theatre.
William Hutt, recognized as one of the great North American actors, is lawyer Henry Drummond in the play about the argument between creationism and evolution — with a teacher who taught evolution in the courtroom's hot seat. James Blendick plays Bible-thumping Matthew Brady in the pro- creation argument in the trial that rocked the U.S. in 1925. Previews began July 28. Performances continue to Nov. 3.
The real Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 had celebrated lawyer Clarence Darrow defending Tennessee schoolteacher John T. Scopes against a prosecution led by William Jennings Bryan. The play premiered on Broadway in 1955.
Domini Blythe is Sarah Brady, Peter Hutt is E.K. Hornbeck, Claire Jullien is Rachel Brown and David Kirby is Bertram Cates in the large-cast courtroom drama. Peter Hartwell designed the set and composer Laura Burton wrote a score for the staging. Kevin Fraser is lighting designer. Jim O'Neil is sound designer.
The cast features Sean Arbuckle as Elijah/Dr. Allen/Page/Harry Y. Easterbrook, Megan Barker as Melinda, Kyle Blair as the Hurdy Gurdy Man/Prayer Meeting Man, Donald Carrier as Tom Davenport, Douglas Chamberlain as the Mayor, John Dolan as Mr. Meeker/alternate Henry Drummond, Barbara Fulton as Mrs. Loomis, David Kirby as Bertram Cates/alternate Mr. Meeker, Robert King as Rev. Jeremiah Brown, Jeanne Lehman as Mrs. Blair, Andrew Linley as the Photographer, Araby Lockhart as the Stenographer, Caleb R. Marshall as Cooper, Brendan Murray as Corkin, Ian Novak as Sillers, Cory O'Brien as Timmy, Raymond O'Neill as Dunlap, Deborah Overes as the Prayer Meeting Woman, Will Petker as Howard, David Roche as Dr. Amos Keller/Hot Dog Man, Michael Schultz as Platt/Walter Aronson/Reuters Man/Eskimo Pie Man, Karen Skidmore as Mrs. Krebs, David W. Smith as alternate Goodfellow, Eileen Smith as Mrs. McLain, David Snelgrove as Mr. Bannister and Jeff White as Bollinger. Also appearing are James Duncan, Julia Jamison, Gloria Parker, Aidan Simpson, Robbie Taylor, Shannon Taylor, Deborah Tennant and Regan Thiel. The 2001 Stratford season at a glance:
Festival Theatre (a Shakespearean thrust stage): The Merchant of Venice, Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night.
Avon Theatre (a proscenium stage): Noel Coward's Private Lives, Henry V, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Chekhov's The Seagull, Dan Needles' Wingfield.
Tom Patterson Theatre (three-quarter thrust stage): Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, Richard Rose's adaptation of Tempest Tost, Timothy Findley's The Trials of Ezra Pound, Damien Atkins' Good Mother.
The Stratford festival was founded in 1952 by Tyrone Guthrie. For information, call (800) 567-1600.
— By Kenneth Jones