The much publicized production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, starring Paul Newman in a rare stage turn, will close as scheduled on June 22 the Westport Country Playhouse. The show, directed by James Naughton and featuring a cast of New York veterans, opened the Westport season on June 5.
The lure of Newman was enough for the New York Times to take a sojourn up to the storied summerstock theatre, though not enough to fetch a positive notice; the paper's Bruce Weber called the show "rickety."
Newman played the folksy Stage Manager, with Jeffrey DeMunn and Jane Curtin as Mr. and Mrs. Webb, Frank Converse and Jayne Atkinson as Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. John Braden was Prof. Willard and Jake Robards was Howie Newsome. Stephen Spinella played Simon Stimpson and Mia Dillon filled the role of Mrs. Soames. Finally, the production's young lovers were Ben Fox as George Gibbs and Maggie Lacey as Emily Gibbs.
The Westport season continues June 26 with The Voice of the Turtle. The gentle John van Druten play about wartime romance was an unexpected hit for Off-Broadway's Keen Company last season. As for Westport, this is the third time the playhouse will mount the three character work. Previous productions were in 1948 and 1979. Stephen Barker Turner will play Bill, a WWII GI on leave in New York who has a date with the promiscuous Olive (Sarah Zimmerman), but ends up spending a revelatory weekend with Olive's friend, the sweet, heartsick and romantically hungry Sally (Katie MacNichol).
Connie Grappo, who had a hit Off-Broadway with Tabletop and will pilot the new Broadway bound revival of Little Shop of Horrors, will direct.
The 2002 Westport County Theatre season will conclude with a musical by lyricist-librettist Dick Vosburgh and composer Denis King, A Saint She Ain't.
The tuner, which will run Aug. 28-Sept. 14, will enjoy its U.S. premiere in a co-production between the Berkshire Theatre Festival and Westport. The musical will play at BTF before reaching the Playhouse. Eric Hill will direct the "Hollywood inspired musical" in which each character is based on renowned Tinseltown figures, such as Mae West and W.C. Fields. The play, roughly based on Moliere's Le Cocu Imaginaire, concerns a couple of young lovers who mistakenly believe the other is being untrue.
A Saint She Ain't debuted at the UK's King's Head Theatre a couple seasons back and then transferred to the West End.
The show is a co-production with the Berkshire Theatre Festival, where it will debut.
The season runs as follows:
• The Voice of the Turtle by John Van Druten, June 26-July 13.
• Master Harold...and the boys by Athol Fugard, directed by Walter Dallas, July 17-Aug. 3.
• Outward Bound by Sutton Vane, directed by Doug Hughes, Aug. 7 24.
• A Saint She Ain't by Dick Vosburgh and Denis King, directed by Eric Hill, Aug. 28-Sept. 14
For call (203) 227-4177.