Director Austin Pendleton Takes Over Lead in Shakespeare Drama The Last Will Off-Broadway

By Adam Hetrick
01 Apr 2013

Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton, who is directing the New York premiere of Robert Brustein's The Last Will, has stepped into the leading role of Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare in that Off-Broadway production, which begins previews April 5 at the Abingdon Theatre Company.



Pendleton (Fiddler on the Roof, Ivanov) replaces Peter Cameron, who has left the production, according to press representatives. Opening night remains April 17. The Last Will is the final installment in Brustein's trilogy of plays examining the life of Shakespeare.

The 80-minute play received its world premiere by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company of Boston in February. The Abingdon Theatre Company presents the New York premiere. The two earlier plays in Brustein's trilogy include The English Channel and Mortal Terror.

The cast also features Stephanie Haberle-Roth as Anne Hathaway, Merritt Janson as Susanna Shakespeare, Jeremiah Kissel as Richard Burbage, Christianna Nelson as Judith Shakespeare and David Wohl as Francis Collins.

Kissel and Janson were both part of the world-premiere production.

The Abingdon production has scenic design by Stephen Dobay, lighting design by Travis McHale, costume design by Laura Crow and sound design by David Margolin Lawson.

Here's how it's billed: "In The Last Will, William Shakespeare — retired after years of struggle and success in London — suffers from a fatal illness which causes his mind to deteriorate and obscures his ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. As Will wrestles with suspicions, delusions, and family resentments, he longs for forgiveness. As Shakespeare composes his final testament, Richard Burbage tries to persuade him to return to London and to unite again."

Following the New York engagement, The Last Will will play the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, with performances May 15-18, in Wuzhen, China.

For tickets, priced $60, visit abingdontheatre.org. The Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex is located at 312 West 36th Street.