On July 7, the Bard's Taming of the Shrew will see its second prominent U.S. production in as many weeks. Last week, Allison Janney and Jay O. Sanders opened in a Central Park mounting of the Shakespeare comedy. Now, the venue is the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Roger Rees and Bebe Neuwirth are Petruchio and Kate. The staging runs through July 18.
Rees, who also directs the piece, has been omnipresent on the New York stage of late, appearing last season in such shows as The Misanthrope at CSC Rep and The Uneasy Chair at Playwrights Horizons.
Shrew represents Chicago star Neuwirth's first non-musical role in some time. Also in the Williamstown cast are David Aaron Baker (Bosoms and Neglect) as Grumio, Tom Bloom as Baptista, Neal Huff as Lucentio and Carrie Preston (The Tempest) as Bianca. Rees also essays the role of Christopher Sly.
Later this season, Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar winner for "Shakespeare In Love," will return to her old stomping grounds. The movie actress will star in Shakespeare's As You Like It. She will play the heroine Rosalind, who -- much like her character in "Shakespeare" -- dressed up as a man in order to snare her love. The festival will also feature premieres of new plays by Kenneth Lonergan (This Is Our Youth), John Guare (Lake Hollywood) and Warren Leight (Side Man). Leight will offer The Glimmer Brothers; Guare Chaucer in Love; and Lonergan The Waverly Gallery.
The season schedule, which runs June 16-Aug. 29, runs as follows:
The Main Stage:
The Taming of the Shrew (July 7-18), directed by Roger Rees (The Misanthrope), who also stars in the production as Petruchio. Bebe Neuwirth stars as Kate, supported by David Aaron Baker, Tom Bloom, Denis Holmes, Neal Huff and Bruce MacVittie
The Price (Aug. 18-29), Arthur Miller's play about family loyalty and responsibility, directed by James Naughton (WTF's 1997 Johnny on the Spot).
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (June 30-July 11), by Tom Stoppard, starring Jefferson Mays and Christopher Evan Welch as the title characters. Richard Kind is the Player. Darko Tresnjak directs.
The Glimmer Brothers (July 14-25), a world premiere of Warren Leight's play about two generations of jazz musicians. David Schwimmer, John Spencer, Kim Raver and Terry Beaver star.
Chaucer in Love (July 28-Aug. 8), John Guare's new play about pilgrims who journey to Rome to absolve their sins, directed by Martin, starring B.D. Wong, Lee Wilkof, Bruce Norris and Megan Dodds.
The Waverly Gallery (Aug. 11-22), Kenneth Lonergan's new play about an 85-year-old Greenwich Village gallery owner who, while failing mentally, refuses to retire, directed by Scott Ellis (Steel Pier).
WTF will also present Quark Victory, a musical by Robert Reale and Willie Reale, at the Hunter Center for the Performing Arts; and several cabaret acts and play readings.
For information, call (413) 597-3399.
--By Robert Simonson