Jayne Atkinson will play Lizzie Curry, the spinster at the center of N. Richard Nash's comedy/drama The Rainmaker at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, but only through Aug. 2.
Chris Meloni plays Starbuck, the handsome stranger who drifts into town and changes her life. Later made into the Jones/Schmidt musical 110 in the Shade, Rainmaker tells of a town hit by drought -- and bowled over by a handsome con man.
David Aaron Baker co-stars as Lizzie's brother, Jim.
Scott Ellis, who recently reaped plaudits for Broadway's 1776 revival, will stage The Rainmaker, which has special significance for the theatre: it was staged by founding artistic director Nikos Psacharopoulos the very first season at Williamstown (1955).
It's just the latest production in the star-studded Williamstown 1998 summer season, which is seeing productions starring Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey, Linda Edmond and Justin Kirk. Dana Ivey will play the famous role of Mrs. Malaprop in Roger Rees' mainstage production of Sheridan's The Rivals (Aug. 5-16). Also in the impressive cast is Edward Herrmann as Sir Anthony Absolute, Tom Bloom as Lucius O'Trigger, and Kate Burton as Julia Melville. Other roles are filled by John Ellison Conlee, Denis Holmes, Rich Holmes, Deirdre Lovejoy, Mark McKinney, Sandra Shipley, and Jake Weber.
Meanwhile, Michele Shay will lead the chorus in Carey Perloff's mainstage production of Euripides' Hecuba (Aug. 19-20) starring Olympia Dukakis.
Marin Hinkle, who starred in Jonathan Marc Sherman's Wonderful Time at New York's WPA Theatre a few seasons back, will appear in Sherman's latest, Evolution (July 29-Aug. 9), on WTF's smaller Nikos Stage. The comedy is about a Harvard student who knows nothing about popular culture yet becomes a hot property in Hollywood. Matt McGrath plays the student. Justin Kirk completes the cast. Nicholas Martin directs.
The final slot in the Nikos Stage season is filled by David Rabe's Corner (Aug. 12-23), about how a man's free sex life gets him into trouble. The drama is directed by Scott Ellis and featuring Victor Argo and Bruce MacVittie.
Williamstown Festival tickets are sold at the box office or by calling (413) 597-3400. WTF's 24-hour information line is (413) 597-3399.