Tony-winning musical star Karen Ziemba will trade in verse and chorus for verse drama this fall when she stars as the fiery Beatrice in Hartford Stage's mounting of Shakespeare's comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, Sept. 5-Oct. 6. Mark Lamos directs.
Since winning a Tony for her repressed housewife in Susan Stroman's dance musical Contact, Ziemba's been branching out, starring in Alan Ayckbourn's interlocking farces, House and Garden, at Rochester's Geva Theatre, and workshopping a new, experimental, two-character musical with Polly Bergen.
Benedick, Beatrice's sparring partner in the Bard's battle of the sexes, has not been cast. Already drafted, however, are Peter Rini as Don Carlo Glenn Fleshler as Don John, Kathleen Early ( The Play About the Baby) as Hero and Richard Ziman (Epic Proportions) as Dogberry.
In other Hartford Stage news, the ever-active Brian Murray, who was Tony-nominated this year for his role in Broadway's The Crucible, will star in the new Alfred Uhry play, Edgardo Mine, this fall at Hartford Stage. Edgardo Mine, directed by Doug Hughes, will play an October-November run and, given the notoriety of its Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will most likely find its way to Manhattan after that.
Based on a true story, the play centers around a 1859 abduction in Italy that changed the course of a nation.
Uhry, who typically takes years to bring out a new play, is having an unusually busy year. In addition to Edgardo Mine, another new Uhry work, Without Walls, will premiere this summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The play, about an African-American drama teacher and his new pupil, was inspired by Uhry's experiences as an English and drama teacher on the Upper West Side in the 1970s. Christopher Ashley directs.
The season is as follows: (subject to change)
- William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Mark Lamos, starring Karen Ziemba, Sept. 5-Oct. 6. The battle between bachelor Benedick and the sharp-tongued Beatrice will open the season at Hartford.
- Alfred Uhry's Edgardo Mine, directed by Doug Hughes, October-November.
- Sophocles' Electra, directed by Jonathan Wilson, will start out the new year with a January February 2003 run. The classic tragedy of murder, justice and revenge will come to life on stage.
- The team behind Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children and The Death of Papa will reteam for the 50th anniversary production of the playwright's The Trip To Bountiful. Helmer Michael Wilson will direct stars Hallie Foote and Jean Stapleton in the play, February- March 2003. Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man from Atlanta.
- Edwin Sanchez's Diosa, directed by Melia Bensussen, will play April-May 2003. The young author of Clean creates a new, dance-infused play based on the rise of a 1930s Hollywood starlet.
- Tennessee Williams' The Night Of The Iguana, directed by Michael Wilson will star Annalee Jefferies. Set to run May-June 2003, the tale of temptation and redemption will reunite of director Wilson with Jefferies, his star of A Streetcar Named Desire.
For more information on Hartford Stage, in CT, call (860) 527 5151. Also, visit them on the web at www.hartfordstage.org.
—By Robert Simonson