It's been a lucky year for actress Mary Catherine Garrison. Last March, Missy Yager suddenly left the cast of the Second Stage revival of Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart, and the job went to Garrison, whose most high-profile credit up until then was a small part in the 2000 Roundabout Theatre Company revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner, starring Nathan Lane.
Well, a sudden casting vacancy has once again proven fortuitous for Garrison. Earlier this summer, the Williamstown Theatre Festival advertised television star Michelle Williams as the lead in its production of Elmer Rice's tale of love and murder in a poor tenement, Street Scene. Williams has since dropped out (no official reason was given) and Garrison has come to the rescue. She will play the part of the good- hearted slum waif Rose Maurrant made famous on film by Sylvia Sidney. The presentation, directed by Michael Greif, will run on the Main Stage Aug. 1-12.
The large cast will include Tina Benko, Susan Blommaert, Julie Boyd, Stephen DeRosa (The Mystery of Irma Vep), Dashiell Eaves, Ned Eisenberg, Fiona Gallagher, Julian Gamble, Ileen Getz, David Keith, Jodie Markell, Kristine Nielsen, Joel Rooks, Thomas Sadoski, Jimmi Simpson, Rocco Sisto, Brenda Wehle, and Christopher Evan Welch (A Skull in Connemara).
DeRosa, Gallagher and Nielsen all appeared in Williamstown's recent A Winter's Tale. Markell's Off-Broadway credits include Snakebit. Welch was just seen in Central Park's Measure for Measure. Eisenberg has starred on Broadway in The Green Bird. Keith's most recent Off-Broadway credit was Kit Marlowe at the Public Theater.
The production stands a chance of being a highlight of this year's festival, if only for the sheer spectacle of its cast size and set (a entire tenement building). For exactly those reasons, and the inherent costs involved, plays such as Street Scene — tremendous successes in their day — are rarely produced nowadays. Three seasons ago, Williamstown's mounting of Sidney Kingsley's similarly sprawling Dead End packed in the audiences. The show was restaged by Nicholas Martin at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company in the fall of 2000 and was again a hit. —By Robert Simonson