Next up at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge is The Taming Of The Shrew marking director Andrei Serban's first show there in eight years. William Shakespeare's battle-of-the-sexes finds Petruchio wooing wild Kate (wealthily) in Padua.
Starring in the show are Carolina Hall (Bianca), Don Reilly (Petruchio) and Kristin Flanders as Katherine, alongside Remo Airaldi, Dmetrius Conley Williams, Benjamin Evett, Jeremy Geidt, Will LeBow, Stephen Rowe, Jason Weinberg, Harry S. Murphy, Michael Cecchi-Azzolina, Danielle Delgado, Sophia Fox-Long, Scott Harrison, Leopold Lowe, Scott Lucy, Robert Ross, and Kevin Varner. At some performances, A.R.T. artistic director Robert Brustein will play Vincentio, which is also played by Jerry Flynn.
Previous plays staged by Serban at A.R.T. include Twelfth Night and The Good Woman Of Setzuan.
And speaking of Bertolt Brecht, running in repertory, Feb. 20-March 14 is In The Jungle Of The Cities, translated by Paul Schmidt and directed by Robert Woodruff. A poetic meditation on the American Dream set in Chicago flophouses, Jungle tells of "an inexplicable wrestling match between two men." Also upcoming at American Rep:
Nobody Dies On Friday (April 1998)
Marilyn Monroe continues to inspire playwrights and screenwriters, including Robert Brustein, whose new play will be directed by David Wheeler. Friday tells of Monroe's visits to the house of her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, whenever she needed acting lessons or to seek asylum from Hollywood craziness. The play not only looks at her, but the tensions she brings out among the four Strasbergs, who quarrel over art, theatre and the cult of celebrity.
The Imaginary Invalid (May 8-31)
Moliere's last play, a satire of the medical profession wherein hypochondriacal Argan decides his daughter must marry a physician so that he'd always have ready healthcare. Shelley Berc translates the farce, which is directed by ART veteran, Andrei Belgarder (Ubu Rock).
American Rep uses a resident acting company, including Remo Airaldi, Thomas Derrah, Alvin Epstein, Benjamin Evett, Kristen Flanders, Jeremy Geidt, Will LeBow, Karen McDonald, Charles Levin, Don Reilly, Stephen Rowe and Jack Willis, alongside Leslie Beatty, Jay Boyer, D'metrius Conley-Williams, Emma Roberts and other new members.
Even before the new season starts, ART will offer audiences a late summer treat with the return of Brustein & David Gordon's Shlemiel The First, Sept. 9-28. The show, conceived at Yale Rep in 1974, eventually made its way to ART, to Philadelphia's American Music Theatre Festival (AMTF), to Lincoln Center's Serious Fun! Festival in New York, and to L.A.'s Geffen Playhouse earlier this summer.
A klezmer musical, Shlemiel is adapted from stories by Yiddish/English author, Isaac Bashevis Singer. You don't have to be Jewish to identify with the denizens of Chelm, the mythical, Eastern European village. In their gentle foolishness, the Chelm dwellers display an odd kind of logic and wisdom. Loosely translated from Yiddish, the word "Shlemiel" denotes a fool with a penchant for harmless bad luck. (The classic definition of shlemiel and shlimazel runs like this: in a restaurant, a shlemiel is the hapless waiter who spills coffee on a customer. A shlimazel is the customer.)
In Shlemiel The First, the hero sets on a journey to spread the town council's wisdom throughout the world. Tricked on his journey, he immediately ends up back in his hometown -- only he thinks it's a duplicate village with people who look and act the same as Chelm.
Songs in Shlemiel The First include "We're Talking Chelm," "He's Going To Die," "Can This Be Hell?", "Meshugah" and "Yenta's Blintzes."
An eight-piece band backs up this happy foolishness, with music composed, adapted and orchestrated by Hankus Netsky. Zalmen Mlotek added additional music and arrangements, with Arnold Weinstein providing the lyrics. Gordon, whose extraordinary The Mysteries And What's So Funny? played two engagements Off Broadway, is a noted choreographer.
Appearing in Shlemiel The First are Remo Airaldi, Benjamin Evett, Will LeBow, Charles Levin, Marilyn Sokol, Scott Cunningham, Ron Bobb Semple, and Maureen McVerry. Sets are by Robert Israel, costumes by Catherine Zuber, sound by Christopher Walker and lighting by Peter Kaczorowski.
As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Rep, Brustein has supervised nearly 200 productions. He serves as director of the Loeb Drama Center, Professor of English at Harvard, and drama critic for The New Republic. These days, he's most celebrated for his public arguments with playwright August Wilson about multi-cultural casting.
For tickets and information on the American Repertory Theatre season, call their Info-Line at (617) 547-8300 or check out their website at http://www.amrep.org.
-- By David Lefkowitz