The Williamstown Theatre Festival mounting of The Taming of the Shrew, starring Roger Rees and Bebe Neuwirth as Petruchio and Kate, will end its two-week run on July 18, after an opening on July 7. The show was the second prominent U.S. production of the classic this summer. The first was the Central Park mounting of the Shakespeare comedy starring Allison Janney and Jay O. Sanders.
Rees, who also directs the piece, has been omnipresent on the New York stage of late, appearing last season in such shows as The Misanthrope at CSC Rep and The Uneasy Chair at Playwrights Horizons.
Shrew represents Chicago star Neuwirth's first non-musical role in some time. Also in the Williamstown cast are David Aaron Baker (Bosoms and Neglect) as Grumio, Tom Bloom as Baptista, Neal Huff as Lucentio and Carrie Preston (The Tempest) as Bianca. Rees also essays the role of Christopher Sly.
In other Williamstown news, Viola Davis (Everybody's Ruby), Gloria Foster (Having Our Say) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven Guitars) will lead the cast of the Williamstown Theatre Festival's new revival of Lorraine Hansberry's classic, A Raisin in the Sun. Jack Hofsiss (My Night with Reg) will pilot the production. Hansberry's drama debuted on Broadway on March 11, 1959, the first Broadway play by a black woman. The play about a black family on Chicago's South Side starred Claudia McNeil and Sidney Poitier under Lloyd Richards' direction. Hansberry died of cancer soon after, on Jan. 12, 1965.
Davis and Santiago-Hudson know each other from the Broadway production of August Wilson's Seven Guitars. Santiago-Hudson won a Tony for his performance in that play.
Foster is quite familiar with Raisin in the Sun. The veteran actress began her career in the late 50s in a touring production of the play starring McNeil. Playing Ruth in that staging, she now fills the role of Lena.
* In other Williamstown news:
Karen Ziemba and Wilson Jermaine Heredia will star in Quark Victory, a new musical by Robert and Willie Reale which will be given a staging at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, July 22- 31. Ziemba has been a steady presence on Broadway over the past several seasons, headlining in Kander and Ebb's Steel Pier and recently completing a turn as Roxie Hart in the same composers' Chicago.
Heredia is best known from Rent, in which he won a Tony for his portrayal of the cross-dressing Angel.
Taking a page from the sci-fi camp classic "Fantastic Voyage," Quark Victory follows Samantha Fitzwater (played by Forum ingenue Jessica Boevers) as she takes a journey into an atom, meeting electrons, neutrons, muons and gluons along the way. According to a press release, she "learns lessons vital to the future of the sub-atomic world and to ours."
Ziemba is Penelope Fitzwater, while Heredia plays a character named Scooter. Stephen De Rosa, of The Mystery of Irma Vep, will play Meischmont and Manny the Muon. Also in the cast are John Hickok, David Wohl and Charlie Day. Jonathan Bernstein directs.
The production will take place at the Hunter College for the Performing Arts. For information, call (413) 597-3400.
The Williamstown season schedule, which runs June 16-Aug. 29, runs as follows:
The Main Stage:
€ The Taming of the Shrew (July 7-18), directed by Roger Rees (The Misanthrope), who also stars in the production as Petruchio. Bebe Neuwirth stars as Kate, supported by David Aaron Baker, Tom Bloom, Denis Holmes, Neal Huff and Bruce MacVittie.
€ A Raisin in the Sun (July 21-Aug. 1), Lorainne Hansberry's classic, directed by Jack Hofsiss (The Elephant Man). Gloria Foster stars.
€ Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (June 30-July 11), by Tom Stoppard, starring Jefferson Mays and Christopher Evan Welch as the title characters. Richard Kind is the Player. Darko Tresnjak directs.
€ The Glimmer Brothers (July 14-25), a world premiere of Warren Leight's play about two generations of jazz musicians. David Schwimmer, John Spencer, Kim Raver and Terry Beaver star.
€ Chaucer in Love (July 28-Aug. 8), John Guare's new play about pilgrims who journey to Rome to absolve their sins, directed by Martin, starring B.D. Wong, Lee Wilkof, Bruce Norris and Megan Dodds.
€ The Waverly Gallery (Aug. 11-22), Kenneth Lonergan's new play about an 85-year-old Greenwich Village gallery owner who, while failing mentally, refuses to retire, directed by Scott Ellis (Steel Pier).
WTF will also several cabaret acts and play readings.
For information, call (413) 597-3399.
--By Robert Simonson