Back in October 1998, Debra Winger and Arliss Howard co-starred in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer-winning How I Learned to Drive at MA's American Repertory Theatre. That pairing worked so well, they've returned to A.R.T. to star in Anton Chekhov's comedy-drama, Ivanov, staged by Russian director Yuri Yeremin, artistic director of Moscow's Pushkin Theatre. Rehearsals began Oct. 12; performances began Nov. 26 for the production, which opens Dec. 1 and uses Paul Schmidt's translation.
According to an A.R.T. spokesperson, ticket sales have been brisk enough to warrant adding an extra performance. Therefore, Ivanov will run to Jan. 23 rather than the 22nd, as previously announced.
Winger received Academy Award nominations for "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Shadowlands" and "Terms of Endearment" and also appeared in "Cannery Row," "Urban Cowboy" and the Steve Martin comedy "A Leap of Faith." Howard's film credits include "Amistad," "Men Don't Leave" and "Full Metal Jacket." Director Yeremin served as artistic director of the Central Soviet Army Theatre from 1981-87.
The last New York staging of Ivanov, written when Chekhov was only 27, featured Kevin Kline as the lead, a man bored to distraction -- and suicide -- by his provincial life. Later Chekhov works include The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.
Also in the cast are Alvin Epstein, Jeremy Geidt, Karen MacDonald, Kristin Proctor, Benjamin Evett, Will LeBow, Matthew Francis, Bill Church and Larisa Linetskaia. Designing the show are Scott Bradley & Christopher Walker (set), Catherine Zuber (costumes) and John Ambrosone (lighting). Other shows in A.R.T.'s 1999-2000, 21st anniversary season include: * Christopher Durang (Betty's Summer Vacation) & Albert (Gemini) Innaurato's The Idiots Karamazov, directed by Karen Coonrod (NYSF's Henry IV, CSC's Christmas at the Ivanovs') beginning December 1999. Written when the two playwrights where at Yale together, the play tells the tale of Dostoevsky's classic, "The Brothers Karamazov," through the eyes of a translator who mixes and mashes the entire Western Canon -- adding such characters as Anais Nin and Mary Tyrone of Long Days' Journey Into Night.
* Joe Orton's Loot, directed by Andrei Belgrader (CSC's Waiting for Godot), begins January 2000. The comedy tells of a son who is driven to dump stolen money into his mother's casket.
* Charles L. Mee's Full Circle, directed by Robert Woodruff, begins February 2000. Out of the chaos of high-speed capitalism and crashing economies emerges a hapless single woman caring for an abandoned baby. Based on an ancient Chinese fable, Circle is set in a turbulent 1989 Europe after the fall of Communism.
* Adrienne Kennedy's The Ohio State Murders, directed by Marcus Stern (The Public's Chang Fragments), begins April 2000. When a young student arrives at Ohio State University, she little suspects that the academic sanctuary harbors dark forces of hatred, and even death.
* Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, directed by innovative Macedonian director, Slobodan Unkovski, beginning May 2000. One of Shakespeare's last plays combines the tragedy of jealous Leontes with the comedy of Pedita and Florizel.
As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Rep, Brustein has supervised more than 200 productions. He serves as director of the Loeb Drama Center, Professor of English at Harvard, and drama critic for The New Republic. In recent years, he's been notable 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