Also slated are revivals of works by John Guare and Tom Stoppard and a marathon reading of Chekhov's plays by such Williamstown stalwarts as Olympia Dukakis, Blythe Danner, George Morfogen, Austin Pendleton and Louis Zorich.
Jesse L. Martin of Rent and "Law & Order" will star as MacHeath in Threepenny Opera, which opens the Main Stage season June 25-July 6. Betty Buckley (Elegies) will be his mistress, Pirate Jenny, and Melissa Errico (Amour) will play his bride, Polly Peachum. Peter Hunt, who for many years was artistic director of Williamstown, will direct—his first WTF assignment in seven years.
The cast and orchestra of Threepenny Opera will number a whopping 60.
Closing the Main Stage season, Aug. 20-24, will be a man usually associated with musicals, but who will here star in a drama from the classical repertory. Mandy Patinkin, rarely seen on stage these days (aside from his solo concerts), will play the put-upon and tragically idealistic community leader in Ibsen's timeless attack on mob will and irresponsibility, An Enemy of the People. Christopher Hampton penned the adaptation and Gerald Freedman will direct.
The three slots in between will be filled by new renditions of two of the best works by John Guare and Tom Stoppard, and Dylan Thomas' best known play, Under Mild Wood. Landscape of the Body by Guare, running July 9-20, will be directed by Michael Greif, who recently scored a success Off-Broadway with Suzan-Lori Parks' Fucking A. Under Milk Wood, a comical and affectionate look at the odd habitants of a Welsh village by Dylan Thomas, will be directed by Darko Tresnjak and run July 23-Aug. 3. Finally, Travesties, in which Stoppard tosses Lenin, James Joyce and Tristan Tzara, along with a faceless diplomat who thinks he knew them all, in a comical salad set in 1917 Zurich. Gregory Boyd mans the production, which runs Aug. 6-17. The Nikos Stage season begins with a new play by A.R. Gurney, Big Bill, running July 2-13. The title character is "Big Bill" Tilden, the one-time tennis champion who is now almost forgotten. Tilden dominated courts during the 1920s and was also a successful journalist, writing about the sport. His life was triumphant until he was arrested for homosexuality and henceforth shunned by the public and the sport he loved. He died broke and alone in 1953. The play will run July 2-13. No director has been named.
Two more new plays follow. Mother of Invention (July 16-27) by Alexandra Gersten-Bassilaros and directed by Nicholas Martin. In the work, a mother struggles with a sick husband, rebellious kids and a vanishing sense of self. Frank D. Gilroy's The Lake (July 30-Aug. 10), meanwhile, is about the "rise and decline of a lake community from its inception in 1927 till after the war." Scott Ellis directs.
Closing the season, appropriately enough, are a clutch of WTF vets reading plays by Chekhov—the favorite playwright of Festival founder Nikos Psacharopoulos. Among the actors involved will be Olympia Dukakis, Blythe Danner, George Morfogen, Austin Pendleton and Louis Zorich—all of whom worked on Chekhov with Psacharopoulos. All four of the Russian's major plays will be read, as well as a night of letters between him and wife, actress Olga Knipper. The series runs Aug. 12-17.
Hunt, Pendleton and Morfogen, all involved in the line-up this year, together helped run the Festival the season after Psacharopoulos died in 1989.
Only mail order ticket requests will be accepted before the box office opens on June 13. For information and a brochure, call (413) 597-3399.
The schedule, at a glance, runs as follows:
Threepenny Opera, June 25-July 6
Landscape of the Body, July 9-20
Under Milk Wood, July 23-Aug. 3
Travesties, Aug. 6-17
An Enemy of the People, Aug. 20-24
Big Bill, running July 2-13
Mother of Invention, July 16-27
The Lake, July 30-Aug. 10
The Chekhov Cycle, Aug. 12-17