Complete casting for The Wooster Group's production of Hamlet, hosted by the Public Theater, was announced this week. The six-week perch is an unusually high-profile gig for the veteran avant-garde troupe, which typically eschews traditional runs and disdains official "openings," instead choosing to nurture its productions in the cocoon-like atmosphere of its Soho space. The Public's hospitality will allow a wide audience to see the often astounding work this group often gets up.
For Hamlet, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, the Wooster Group will explore the play in tandem with an examination of Richard Burton's legendary 1964 Broadway production of the play. A little-known film of the production will be shown during the performances. The production will attempt to "reconstruct a hypothetical theatre piece from the fragmentary evidence of the edited film, like an archeologist inferring an improbable temple from a collection of ruins." Fasten your seat-belt.
The cast for Hamlet includes Scott Shepherd as Hamlet, Kate Valk as Gertrude and Ophelia, Ari Fliakos as Claudius with Dominique Bousquet, Alessandro Magania, Daniel Pettrow, Bill Raymond, Casey Spooner and Judson Williams.
The new Hamlet overseas at The Royal Shakespeare Company, meanwhile, will be more traditional, I should think. Patrick Stewart is the show's biggest star, taking the role of Claudius, while David Tennant delivers the title role of in RSC artistic director Michael Boyd's production. Stewart's been on a Shakespeare streak of late, tackling, in quick succession, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra and Macbeth. ***
Jumping back to these shores (while sticking with British players), Ian McKellen began a run Shakespeare's King Lear Sept. 6 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Trevor Nunn helms the Royal Shakespeare Company productions in their U.S. premiere, having previously debuted in March 2007 at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre. McKellen will play the old man for all 15 performances of King Lear; however, he will alternate with fellow company member William Gaunt in the role of Sorin for select performances of The Seagull. One does have to get one's rest, doesn't one?
As the British say: And now for something completely different. Paul Rudnick will make his Lincoln Center Theater debut when his latest work, The New Century — under the direction of Nicholas Martin — is presented at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater this spring. The show is a collection of four short plays, one of which features the recurring character of Mr. Charles, "a flamboyant resident of Palm Beach."
Director Doug Hughes gets around. He has worked for a good many of the theatre companies around New York City, including frequent guesting at the Roundabout Theatre Company's homes. In fact, he's mounted shows on all three of Roundabout's stages. Tired of having to let him in every time he rings the doorbell, the Roundabout has decided to just give Hughes the key. The nonprofit announced this week that Hughes has been appointed resident director, effective immediately. He will act as "a part-time, year-round artistic advisor for Roundabout productions," according to an announcement.
In other Roundabout news this week, the forthcoming Broadway staging of London's Hitchcockian thriller The 39 Steps will play the American Airlines Theatre. Maria Aitken, director of the original London production and upcoming Boston run, will stage the work in New York for a Dec. 28 start. No casting for the Broadway production has yet been announced.
Finally, the Broadway and London productions of Les Miserables will swap Jean Valjeans this October.
John Owen-Jones, currently playing Valjean in Les Miz at the Queens Theatre in the West End, will make his Broadway debut in the role beginning Oct. 23 at the Broadhurst Theatre. On Oct. 22 Drew Sarich, currently playing Valjean on Broadway, will make his West End debut.
One does have to keep oneself amused, doesn't one?