By David Lefkowitz
27 Aug 1998
Kathryn Meisle, featured in recent Broadway productions of Boucicault's London Assurance and Anouilh's The Rehearsal, now stars in Mark Brokaw's staging of Turgenev's A Month in the Country at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre. Meisle, whose other credits included the Lincoln Center production of David Hare's Racing Demon, plays Natalia Petrovna, a restless wife who becomes helplessly infatuated with her son's young tutor.
The production began performances July 8, opened July 17, and concludes its scheduled run Aug. 27.
The production is helmed by Mark Brokaw, who most recently staged Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul at New York's Vineyard Theatre. After a string of successes with contemporary plays -- including Paula Vogel's Pulitzer winning How I Learned to Drive, Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown and Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth -- the Turgenev represents a change of pace for the hot director.
Joining Meisle in the cast are Barbara Bryne as Anna, Jeremy Fonicello as Aleksei, the tutor; Ken Marks as Mikhail, Natalia's neglected lover; and Maria Thayer as Vera, Natalia's young ward. Charles Janasz and David Manis play other roles.
Designed by Frank Hallinan Flood (set), Ellen McCartney (costumes) and Christopher Akerlind (lighting), A Month in the Country has played in repertory with a Joe Dowling-directed mounting of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, which opened July 5 for a run through Aug. 30. The cast includes Rainn Wilson as Algernon; Janasz as John Worthing; Julie Briskman Hall as Gwendolen, Amanda Detmer as Cecily; and Guthrie veteran Barbara Bryne as Lady Bracknell.
The rest of Guthrie season is as follows:
Sept. 11-Oct. 4 (opening Sept. 16): Molly Sweeney, Brian Friel's drama of a blind woman coerced into having an operation on her eyes by her over-zealous boyfriend and the dissipated surgeon they both trust.
Oct. 2-Nov. 8: The Venetian Twins. In Kevin Kling's adaptation of this Carlo Goldoni romp, identical twins (one a country bumpkin, another a city slicker) look for a wife in modern-day Minnesota. The Royal Shakespeare Company's Michael Bogdanov directs this updated 1748 play.
Nov. 20-Dec. 27: A Christmas Carol. Barbara Fields adapts Charles Dickens' holiday fable, which for the second year will feature the voice of Sir John Gielgud as narrator. Sari Ketter directs.
According to an Associated Press report, an official from the Minneapolis theatre flew to London last year to tape Gielgud's recitation. "His voice will marry beautifully with those of the actors on stage and is a perfect fit with the language of Charles Dickens," said artistic director Dowling. Previous credits for the 93-year-old Gielgud include the National Theatre's 1947 Medea and Crime And Punishment, both of which played on Broadway. He debuted in 1921 at London's Old Vic and on Broadway in 1928's The Patriot. He also won an Oscar for Arthur.
Spokesperson Kemp Powers told Playbill On-Line, "We've done Christmas Carol for over 20 years. For a number of years, we had the narrator be someone portraying Dickens at the dinner table with his family. Last season we had various company members narrate throughout the story."
Jan. 15-Feb. 14, 1999: The Magic Fire. Lillian Garrett-Groag's autobiographical piece tells of her coming of age in Peron-era Argentina. Lippy Appel directs the drama (which world premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1997) for the Guthrie.
Feb. 26-Apr. 4, 1999: Julius Caesar. Artistic director Dowling will update Shakespeare's look at dirty politics in ancient Rome to the 20th Century.
Apr. 23-May 23, 1999: Summer and Smoke. In Tennessee Williams' drama of repression and longing, tightly-wrapped Alma falls in love with a dissolute doctor but won't admit it until too late.
For tickets ($15.50-$37.50) and subscription information ($48-$204) to Guthrie shows call (612) 377-2224.