PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 25-31: Arena Stage Gets Political and Renée Fleming Will Play Williamstown

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31 Jan 2014

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas

The Arena Stage has exhibited some very canny casting for its upcoming production of the world premiere of the historical drama Camp David.

Ron Rifkin has been tapped to play Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Richard Thomas will portay President Jimmy Carter in the four-person play. Penned by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, the play follows the historic 13-day meeting between Carter, Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at Camp David that led to a landmark peace accord between Egypt and Israel. The agreement was the crowning achievement of the Carter administration, and the peace agreement stands to this day.

No casting has been announced yet for the roles of Sadat and First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Molly Smith will direct the piece, which begins performances March 21, continuing through May 4 in the Kreeger Theater.

Of the four historical characters, only the Carters survive. Sadat was assassinated in 1981, largely due to his having forged peace with Israel. Begin died in 1992.

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The Williamstown Theatre Festival is stepping up in class.

The festival's 2014 main stage season will include an appearance by opera superstar Renée Fleming. Fleming will star in Living on Love, a new musical by Joe DiPietro (who's living) and Garson Kanin (who's quite dead).

In the show, based on Kanin's play Peccadillo, Fleming will play Rachel DeAngelis, a celebrated diva who — when her husband, egomaniacal maestro Vito DeAngelis, becomes enamored with the lovely young lady hired to ghostwrite his long-delayed autobiography — retaliates by hiring her own male ghostwriter to write up her life as an opera star.

The season will also include a new production of Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufman's classic satire of the songwriting business, June Moon, directed by Jessica Stone. The play's most recent notable staging was 1997, when it proved an early hit for the Off-Broadway troupe The Drama Dept.

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In 2012, the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater presented David Adjmi play 3C, a dark satirical riff on the 1970s sitcom "Three's Company." The copyright owner of that bubble-headed show didn't like it, and lawyers sent Adjmi a cease-and-desist letter that cited copyright infringement, listing 17 points of similarity between the play and the sitcom. While Adjmi didn't agree to anything, he did shut the production down, and there have been no new productions since.

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