Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre will present two Shakespearean plays in repertory: Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both will be directed by Sir Peter Hall and will feature such noted actors as David Dukes, Kelly McGillis and Richard Thomas. Lower priced previews for the event begin on June 6, with official run slated for June 20-August 1.
The original plan was for the Ahmanson to present just one of the two plays, but Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the Ahmanson, announced recently the receipt of a $250,000 donation which will allow for the schedule expansion. The donor was not named.
The company of actors include (in alphabetical order): J. Todd Adams, Patti Allison, William H. Bassett, Julia Coffey, Mark Deakins, Dukes, Jennifer Dundas Lowe (Shopping and Fucking), George Dzundza, Joshua Fardon, Anna Gunn, Peter Francis James, Charles Janasz, Cindy Katz, Michael Keenan, Hamish Linklater, Ian Lithgow, Gloria Mann, David Manis, McGillis, Kathryn Meisle (The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told), Brian Murray (Da), Ted Rooney, John Towey, Richard Thomas, Maura Vincent, Jennifer Ligh Warren, and Stoney Westmoreland.
"It's more interesting for audiences to be able to see two plays with the same company," Davidson said in a statement. "It"s more interesting for actors to get to play contrasting roles. And there is a better opportunity to evolve a sense of company because the rehearsal period is eight weeks instead of four."
Hall has already announced that his production of Amadeus will play at the Ahmanson in the 2000-2001 season. Hall, who co-founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, conducted two master classes in Los Angeles last summer. Several well-known Hollywood stars were in attendance, hoping to brush up their Shakespeare in anticipation of possible participation in the Ahmanson productions.
American actors lack technique but have plenty of temperament and a great sense of rhythm and musicality, according to Hall. "Los Angeles has probably the biggest pool of talented actors in the world, but they are there not to act but to wait -- in case the TV or the movie calls."
In commenting on the style of the productions, Davidson said they will not be in contemporary dress. But as for Measure for Measure -- the story of a sex scandal in the Viennese government-- he pointed out that "you can't do it and not think about what has just gone on in Washington."
The casting includes Thomas as Puck in Midsummer and Angelo in Measure, McGillis as Titania in Midsummer, and Dukes as Theseus in Midsummer and Lucio in Measure for Measure.
Ahmanson subscribers will receive only one Shakespeare play as part of their package, but they will get discounts on the second. Single tickets will be available for both.
Tickets for both productions are on-sale now, and range from $15 - $42, for previews and $15 - $52.50, for regular performances. For more ticket information, call (213) 628-2772.
Both productions play in repertory at the Ahmanson, June 6 - August 1, with an official June 20, opening.
-- By Sean McGrath