Becky Ann Baker, Jessica Hecht and Alan Tudyk are featured in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, the latest play from Paul Rudnick, author of the comedies Jeffrey and I Hate Hamlet. The production, directed by Christopher Ashley, opens at the festival's Nikos Stage July 1 for a run through July 12.
Its title notwithstanding, Fabulous is a fantastical retelling of not the story of Jesus, but the tale of Adam and Eve. It tackles such large questions as the existence of God, the need for belief, and the impact of Olivia Newton-John as a religious icon.
Becky Ann Baker's recent credits include such disparate ventures as the Broadway musical Titanic and the Off-Broadway Drama Dept. revival of June Moon. After spending a couple years on the sitcom "The Single Guy," Jessica Hecht has done a lot of recent stage work, including stints in The Last Night of Ballyhoo on Broadway and Plunge at Playwrights Horizons. Alan Tudyk made his name playing several characters in the Off-Broadway production of Bunny, Bunny, going on to appear in Misalliance at the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Over at the Mainstage, June 24-July 5, will be Tennessee Williams' early masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie, directed by Neel [sic] Keller, current artistic associate at La Jolla Playhouse. Dana Ivey (Sex and Longing, Driving Miss Daisy) stars as faded belle Amanda Wingfield. Eric Stoltz (Our Town, Tony Walton's Off-Broadway mounting of The Importance of Being Earnest) co-stars as Amanda's unhappy son, Tom. Jenny Bacon plays Laura, Tate Donovan is the Gentleman Caller. Designing the show are Hugh Landwehr (set), David Murin (costumes), Rui Rita (lighting) and Kurt B. Kellenberger (sound).
Audiences will then say "Hello, Dolly" to actress/comedienne Andrea Martin, who stars as Dolly Levi in Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, July 8-19. Williamstown resident director Nicholas Martin will stage this comedy about a widow who tries to fix up a wealthy bachelor -- with herself.
The very first season at Williamstown (1955), founding artistic director Nikos Psacharopoulos staged N. Richard Nash's comedy/drama, The Rainmaker. Now Scott Ellis, who recently reaped plaudits for Broadway's 1776 revival, will stage The Rainmaker at WTF, July 22-Aug. 2. 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 conman.
Roger Rees, last on Broadway in The Rehearsal, directs Richard Brinsley Sheridan's farce, The Rivals, Aug. 5-16. No word on who'll play the verbally cacaphonous -- er, calamitous, Mrs. Malaprop. Kate Burton, Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey and Mark McKinney are featured.
And what is Hecuba to Williamstown and Williamstown to Hecuba? We'll find out Aug. 19-30 when Timberlake Wertenbaker's adaptation of Euripides' tragedy travels to WTF from San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre. Carey Perloff directs, with Olympia Dukakis starring.
Five plays will also happen on the smaller, 96-seat Nikos Stage (recently renamed for aforementioned founding director Psacharopoulos). In addition to The Big Knife and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, they are:
Far East -- Former Seattle Rep artistic director Dan Sullivan helms the latest play by A.R. Gurney (The Cocktail Hour, Sylvia, Love Letters), July 15-26. Set in the 1950s, Far East tells of a young naval officer looking for fun in Japan before Voice of America calls him home.
Evolution -- From the author of Women and Wallach, Jonathan Marc Sherman, comes this comedy about a Harvard student who knows nothing about popular culture yet becomes a hot property in Hollywood. Nicholas Martin directs, July 29-Aug. 9.
Corners -- A man's free sex life gets him into trouble in this drama by David Rabe, author of Hurlyburly and A Question of Mercy. Scott Ellis, who helms the aforementioned Rainmaker, directs, Aug. 12-23.
Also at the Williamstown Fest, family audiences can enjoy Carlo Gozzi's The Blue Demon (July 23-Aug. 1), directed by Dark Tresjnak. This fairy tale, based on The Arabian Nights, features dance, masks and puppetry.
A special late-nite Cabaret (July 2-Aug. 14) and the Greylock Theatre Project for disadvantaged youth also comprise the Festival, as do a site specific piece by Act I Company and New Play Readings in consideration for next year's Fest. Michael Ritchie serves as producer of the Festival.
Williamstown Festival tickets went onsale June 10 at the box office or by calling (413) 597-3400. WTF's 24-hour information line is (413) 597-3399.