Those awaiting the stage return of Mary Tyler Moore will have to wait a little longer. The television legend has bowed out of the Williamstown Theatre Festival's premiere of A.R. Gurney's Buffalo Gal, due to a foot injury complicated by diabetes. "We are saddened that Mary Tyler Moore will not be joining us....this summer," said WTF producer Michael Ritchie, "but her health needs to be her first concern."
Stepping into the new comedy is stage, screen and film actress Mariette Hartley. John Tillinger will still direct. Michael Gross is co-star.
The team of Moore, Gurney and Tillinger would have been significant. The last time Moore appeared on the Broadway stage was in Gurney's Sweet Sue, which was directed by Tillinger. The show lasted 164 performances and 15 previews in 1987. Moore is better known, of course, for her legendary television work in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
In another change in the WTF schedule, a planned revival of the obscure Paddy Chayefsky comedy The Latent Heterosexual has been replaced by Willy Russell's Educating Rita. Bruce Paltrow remains the director for this, the second selection on the Nikos stage.
"The Latent Heterosexual is a wonderful comedy that deserves to be revived with all the right elements in place," said Ritchie in a statement. Unfortunately, we were not able to get those elements together in time to stage the play this season, but we hope Chayefsky's work will be seen on a WTF stage in the near future." Earlier this spring, comic film actor Mike Myers ("Austin Powers") had been announced as the star of the Chayefsky. Edward Herrmann will star in Rita. *
The acting corp at the Williamstown Theatre Festival is usually pretty starry, and 2001 will be no exception. In addition to the above mentioned Herrmann and Hartley, Eric Bogosian, Michelle Williams, Bebe Neuwirth, Kate Burton, B.J. Crosby, Roz Ryan, Kristine Nielson and Mason Adams will be featured on the WTF stages.
Bogosian will make his WTF debut, starring in Diva, a Howard M. Gould comedy about a spoiled film actress trying to break into television. Neuwirth will also star. The play will run on the smaller Nikos stage.
Williamstown typically offers one Shakespeare production and this year it's A Winter's Tale, directed on the Mainstage by Darko Tresnjak. Kristine Nielson (Betty's Summer Vacation) and Kate Burton—without whose services no WTF season would be complete—will star. Burton played her now Broadway-bound Hedda Gabler at Williamstown last summer.
Opening the Mainstage season will be B.J. Crosby and Roz Ryan in a revival of Vernel Bagneris' One Mo' Time. Crosby is well known from the long-running Smokey Joe's Cafe, Ryan from Dreamgirls. Meanwhile, Mason Adams, who has recently graced the New York stage in such Signature Theatre Company productions as Horton Foote's The Last of the Thorntons and John Guare's Lake Hollywood, will star in a new staging of Arthur Miller's first play, The Man Who Had All the Luck.
Finally, "Dawson's Creek" star Michelle Williams will head the cast of a new mounting of Elmer Rice's naturalistic classic, Street Scene, presumedly taking the role of Rose Maurrant, the doomed tenement dwelling daughter of an adulterous mother and murderous father. The production, directed by Michael Grief, is in the tradition of such sprawling, large cast Williamstown productions as the revival of Dead End of several seasons ago.
Arthur Miller, Elmer Rice, Frank McGuinness, A.R. Gurney, Edward Albee and Harold Pinter are some of the playwrights who will be featured in the Williamstown Theatre Festival's 2001 summer season. Also in the works are workshops of a new Donald Margulies play and a musical by Jenny Giering and Beth Blatt. The season will run June 20-Aug. 26.
The season will run as follows:
• One Mo' Time, written and directed by Vernel Bagneris, June 20 July 1. A revival of the blues-flavored revue that played Off-Broadway in the early '90s.
• The Winter's Tale, by William Shakespeare, directed by Darko Tresnjak, July 4-15. The late tragedy of jealousy and redemption by the Bard. Tresnjak has directed a couple productions at the Blue Light Theatre Off-Broadway over the last couple years.
• The Man Who Had All the Luck, by Arthur Miller, directed by Scott Ellis, July 18-29. The famous 1944 Broadway flop that preceded All My Sons and Death of a Salesman is dusted off.
• Street Scene, by Elmer Rice, directed by Michael Grief, Aug. 1-12. Rice's gritty tale of a hot June day and its impact on the inhabitants of a cramped tenement. A cast of 50 is advertised.
• Philadelphia, Here I Come!, by Brian Friel, directed by Kyle Donnelly, Aug. 15-26. Friel's tale of an young Irish man (and his alter ego) trying to make peace with his homeland and his father before setting off for America.
• Buffalo Girl, by A.R. Gurney, director John Tillinger, June 13-24. A new play by the author of Far East, about a Buffalo born actress who returns to her hometown to play in The Cherry Orchard and encounters an old beau and the sale of her grandma's house.
• Educating Rita, by Willy Russell, directed by Bruce Paltrow, June 27-July 8.
• Diva, by Howard M. Gould, directed by Neel Keller, July 11-22. A workshop production of a comedy about a spoiled film actress trying to break into television.
• The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter and The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, directed by Joe Mantello, July 25-Aug. 5. Two classic one-acts from two authors, one British and one American, deeply influenced by Samuel Beckett. Sam Rockwell and Zeljko Ivanek has been mentioned for the cast.
• Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme, by Frank McGuinness, directed by Nicholas Martin, Aug. 9-19. A drama about eight Irish nationalists serving in World War I.
In addition to the above production, a workshop of Beth Blatt and Jenny Giering's new musical The Mistress Cycle is planned. The show takes a look at the life of mistresses around the world and down through the years. Audra McDonald is rumored to star. McDonald recorded Giering's "I Follow" on her album "Way Back to Paradise." Also to be workshopped is Donald Margulies' latest, God of Vengeance. The adaptation of the Yiddish classic premiered at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre in spring 2000. As in Seattle, Gordon Edelstein directs.
—By Robert Simonson