Mystery Shakespeare Starring Kline, Plus LaBute, Lucas and Parks Highlight Public Theater Season

News   Mystery Shakespeare Starring Kline, Plus LaBute, Lucas and Parks Highlight Public Theater Season
The 2006-07 Public Theater season will begin with a mystery. The nonprofit has announced that leading stage actor Kevin Kline will star in a James Lapine-directed Shakespeare work. But what will that play be? That's yet to be decided.

Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline Photo by Aubrey Reuben

One can likely rule out Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and Hamlet ; he's done those before at the Public. (However, Kline is not opposed to trying something twice; he made two stabs at Hamlet .) Ditto Henry IV . Kline won raves recently when he played Falstaff in that history play at Lincoln Center Theater. The new production will run in the fall.

Also part of the line-up are a slew of new plays: the U.S. premiere of Wrecks , starring Ed Harris, by the endlessly productive Neil LaBute; the world premiere of Durango by Julie Cho, directed by Chay Yew; the New York premiere of Emergence-See! , written and performed by Daniel Beaty; the world premiere of the new musical Passing Strange , with book and lyrics by the surnameless Stew, and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, directed by Annie Dorsen; the New York debut of Craig Lucas' ambitious play The Singing Forest , directed by Lucas' The Light in the Piazza collaborator Bartlett Sher; and the New York bow of Public favorite Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays.

In other news, Brian Dennehy has signed on to make his Shakespeare in the Park debut in 2007. No play or director have been named.

LaBute's Wrecks (running in October) is just the latest from the prolific author of bash, The Mercy Seat and Some Girls . The Public had a success with its 2005 production of LaBute's This Is How It Goes . Press materials only revealed that the new work is about "love, family and marriage." Ed Harris, who plays a newly bereaved husband, starred in the world premiere at Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork, Ireland.

Durango is by Julie Cho, the author of BFE , and will run in November. The work is about a family trip to Colorado, and two sons' struggle to escape the shadow of their father, who emigrated from Korea to the U.S. Emergence-See! , by Daniel Beaty, a Nuyorican Poet's Café regular, tells the story of a slave ship's sudden appearance in modern-day New York Harbor though "slam poetry and song." It will bow in November.

Passing Strange, a co-production with Berkeley Rep set for January 2007, promises to take audiences "from Los Angeles to Amsterdam to Berlin and back," as "a young black bohemian" searches for himself.

The much-anticipated Singing Forest, which has been seen in Seattle and New Haven, interweaves the tales of three generations of one family, from New York in 2000 to post-World War II Paris to Vienna in the 1930s. The three-act drama is considered to be veteran playwright Craig Lucas' most ambitious work to date. No casting has been announced, but the Long Wharf production in Connecticut featured Kristine Nielsen and Robin Bartlett.

Finally, Parks' sui generis project 365 Days/365 Plays is described thusly: "In November 2002, the Pulitzer prize-winning Suzan-Lori Parks sat down and committed to writing a play a day for the next 365 days. For the 2006-07 Season, The Public will produce the New York premiere of these works by gathering together a widely diverse cross-section of New York’s theatre companies to participate in this project. Over the course of one year, the selected theatres—curated by The Public, Suzan-Lori Parks and Producer Bonnie Metzger—will perform these brief, brilliant snapshots from the imagination of one of America's leading playwrights. This will be part of a yearlong national festival of the play cycle that will take place in major cities around the country including Atlanta, Los Angeles and Denver. Tickets at The Public will be free." The Public will also produce with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles the world premiere of Yellowface , "a new satire about ethnicity and cultural identity" by David Henry Hwang. The production will be staged at the Mark Taper Forum in spring 2007. The Public will bring it to New York in fall 2007.

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