Ripley, Prosky Star in Ludwig's Shakespeare in Hollywood, Arena World Premiere, Sept. 5

News   Ripley, Prosky Star in Ludwig's Shakespeare in Hollywood, Arena World Premiere, Sept. 5 Arena Stage enters two worlds — Shakespeare's arcadia and Hollywood's dream factory — for the premiere of Shakespeare in Hollywood, Ken Ludwig's new comedy about the creation of the Warner Bros. film, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Broadway's Alice Ripley (Side Show, The Rocky Horror Show) makes her Arena debut playing a character named Lydia Lansing in the Kyle Donnelly-directed production, launching the 2003-04 season at the DC not for-profit, Sept. 5-Oct. 19. Opening night is Sept. 12.

Ludwig is known for Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo and the books to the musicals, Crazy for You and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Casey Biggs plays Oberon and Robert Prosky (a two-time Tony Award nominee) is famed Austrian stage director Max Reinhardt, who directed the film of the Shakespeare fantasia.

Shakespeare in Hollywood plays the Arena's Fichandler.

"Shakespeare in Hollywood is the entertaining fusion of Hollywood glitz, classic theatrical productions and Shakespeare's poetry around an event in cinema history – the making of Max Reinhardt's 1935 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,'" according to production notes. "Reinhardt's film featured several legendary stars of American movies: Jimmy Cagney, Dick Powell and Joe E. Brown – all of whom feature prominently as characters in Shakespeare in Hollywood. "This play is about the clash of high culture and popular comedy in America, especially in the world of the movies," Ludwig said in production notes. "It's also about how the imagination is such an important part of all our lives. These themes are set in the world of a 1930s screwball comedy. For me, this production is a dream come true; it's my first time working at Arena Stage, and for that I thank [Arena Stage artistic director] Molly Smith from the bottom of my heart."

Director Kyle Donnelly served as associate artistic director at Arena Stage 1992-1998. She has directed at theatres across the country, including The Goodman Theatre, Alliance Theatre Company, Lincoln Center Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

The company includes Everett Quinton (The Mystery of Irma Vep) making his Arena Stage debut as Will Hays; Maggie Lacey (Broadway's Our Town) as Olivia Darnell; Emily Donahoe as Puck; Rick Foucheux as Jack Warner; Ellen Karas as Louella Parsons; Michael Skinner as Daryl; David Fendig as Dick Powell; Adam Richman as Jimmy Cagney; Hugh Nees as Joe E. Brown, with Bethany Caputo, Robert McClure, Eric Jorgensen and Scott Graham.

Designers are Thomas Lynch (set), Jess Goldstein (costume), Nancy Schertler (lighting), Susan R. White (sound). Choreographer is Karma Camp.

Tickets range $40-$53. For information, call (202) 488 3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.