Neil Bartlett's production of Shakespeare's comedy will open at Stratford's Courtyard Theatre Sept. 5 following previews that begin Aug. 30.
Best known for his television comedy shows, Lithgow's stage credits include a Tony-winning performance for his Broadway debut in 1973 in David Storey's The Changing Room. He won his second Tony for The Sweet Smell of Success and was most recently on Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, for which he received his fifth Tony nomination; he was also Tony-nominated for his work in Requiem for a Heavyweight and M. Butterfly.
Lithgow also won three Emmys for his performance in the TV sitcom "3rd Rock from the Sun" and received Oscar nominations for the movies "The World According to Garp" and "Terms of Endearment."
Bartlett's production of Twelfth Night features cross-gender casting with some female actors playing male roles, and vice versa. Says Bartlett, "Twelfth Night shows a capricious disregard for the normal rules of gender. Girls disguised as boys fall in love with men, men fall in love with girls while thinking they are boys, and women marry boys who in fact turn out to be girls! In the original production of the play, this whirligig of gender mayhem would have been further compounded by the fact the girls and women, like all of Shakespeare's female characters, would have been played by young men. Taking my cue from Shakespeare's own exploration of the troubled relationship between disguise and desire, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when this magical play is performed by a company in which gender and role are not necessarily paired as nature intended..."
Bartlett's production will see Siobhan Redmond (Much Ado) making her RSC comeback as Maria; Orsino and Antonio played by real-life brothers Jason and Simon Merrells, respectively, while Iain McKee and Chris New play twins Sebastian and Viola, respectively. The production is largely cross-cast with the RSC's touring version (beginning Oct. 19) of The Comedy of Errors. Design for Twelfth Night is by Kandis Cook.
For more information on Twelfth Night, which is booking until Oct. 6, call (0)870 609 1110.