The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, announced a 2008-09 season to start with Romeo and Juliet and end with Robert Falls' acclaimed production of King Lear starring Stacy Keach.
The Falls-directed Chicago Goodman Theatre production of Lear with Keach was acclaimed in 2006. This will mark Keach's first time back at STC since he was Macbeth in 1995. Before he becomes the feeble Lear, he'll tour as another fallen leader — Richard Nixon in the national tour of Frost/Nixon.
Artistic director Michael Kahn's new production of Congreve's The Way of the World will feature Broadway's Veanne Cox (Company; Caroline, or Change and STC's The Beaux' Stratagem) and STC favorites Floyd King, Andrew Long and Nancy Robinette.
Cox will then play Olivia in Twelfth Night, joined by King and Robinette.
The Eugene Labiche farce An Italian Straw Hat will be seen in a new music-filled adaptation, reset in New York City. Kahn will direct.
Here's the Shakespeare Theatre Company's 2008-09 season at a glance:
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, directed by associate artistic director David Muse, Sept. 9-Oct. 12, Sidney Harman Hall. "The world's greatest and most enduring love story, Romeo and Juliet follows its star-crossed lovers as they hurtle from their first shy glances to their last heartrending kiss. Caught between their feuding families, Romeo and Juliet desperately struggle to build a world insulated from the violence, but their love races toward a final confrontation with fate."
The Way of the World by William Congreve, directed by Kahn, Sept. 30-Nov. 16, Lansburgh Theatre. "Featuring witty repartee in the grand tradition of The Country Wife and The Beaux' Stratagem, Congreve's delicious comedy of manners sends up courtship and marriage. Amid the gossip and frivolous love affairs of fashionable London society, the clever and conniving lovers Millamant and Mirabell are determined to pursue 'a marriage of true minds.' But Millamant's jealous guardian stands in their way. The only way to achieve their goal is to beat the fops, the fools and the resentful rivals at their own game — through double-dealing and outrageous deception."
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman, Dec. 2, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009, Sidney Harman Hall. "One of Shakespeare's greatest comedies, Twelfth Night ponders love lost and found. A shipwreck separates twins Viola and Sebastian, but tragedy quickly turns to comedy when they wash up in a land turned upside-down by love. With raucous antics, ravishing language and rich characters, Shakespeare creates a bittersweet tale of laughter and longing."
The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega, translated and adapted by David Johnston, directed by Jonathan Munby, Feb. 10-March 29, 2009, Lansburgh Theatre. "A master of Spain's Golden Age, Lope de Vega explores love, fidelity and class with wry humor in The Dog in the Manger. The haughty countess Diana rejects her many aristocratic suitors only to fall in love with her handsome young secretary, Teodoro. To pursue this forbidden love, Diana must sabotage her suitors, deceive her friends and concoct ever-more elaborate schemes. De Vega balances high tragedy and low comedy, examining the savage whims of the human heart."
Ion by Euripides, translated and adapted by David Lan, directed by Ethan McSweeny, March 10-April 12, 2009, Sidney Harman Hall. "In Ion, the Greek playwright Euripides crafts a remarkable romance of loss and reconciliation. Abandoned by his parents, Ion grows up as an orphan at Apollo's temple. But when his mother appears in search of a prophecy, Ion must confront both his painful past and his unexpected destiny. Euripides' plot twists and turns with jealousy and revenge before culminating in a reunion scene of deep tenderness and pathos." This is the American premiere of David Lan's translation, "which captures the rich beauty of this neglected masterpiece."
An Italian Straw Hat by Eugene Labiche, adapted by John Strand, music by Dennis McCarthy, directed by Kahn, May 12-June 28, 2009, Lansburgh Theatre. "Based on the famous French farce/vaudeville by Eugene Labiche, this new play with music follows the hapless bridegroom Fadley as his wedding day turns to chaos. When Fadley's horse eats a young lady's hat, Fadley must find a replacement — or suffer the wrath of the woman's lover. What follows is a daylong mad dash full of mistaken identities, larger-than-life characters and hilarious pratfalls, all brought to life with music reminiscent of vaudeville, light opera and even barbershop quartet. Michael Kahn directs this frothy and frolicking play, set in turn-of-the-century New York, adapted by John Strand (Lorenzaccio) with new musical numbers by Dennis McCarthy."
King Lear by William Shakespeare, directed by Robert Falls, June 16-July 19, 2009, Sidney Harman Hall. "One of the most powerful dramas in Western literature, King Lear is both an intimate family drama and an explosive political epic. Beginning with a monarch's division of his kingdom amongst his three daughters, Lear explores the most basic questions of human existence: love and duty, power and loss, good and evil. Tony Award winner Robert Falls remounts his 2006 production, which captures both the stark violence and devastating passion of Shakespeare's masterpiece. Stacy Keach will play the title role, returning to STC for the first time since Macbeth in 1995." For more information about The Shakespeare Theatre Company season, visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.