Ever since it was announced that Jenny Gersten would be assuming the role of artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, following the departure of Nicholas Martin late last summer, theatre-goers have been curious what that would mean. For one thing it means three shows instead of four, but two of them will run longer so more people can see them. “We’re trying to run them a little bit longer and see if that gives them time to catch on,” Gersten said.
For the Main Stage at least, it means the good times will continue. Just announced are the three main attractions, with the Nikos Theatre events still to be determined. Being the smaller of the two stages, the Nikos is generally where the new works, the experiments and the innovation happens.
The ’62 Center may be surrounded by snow today, but in a few months, the flowers will bloom, and the stars will come out again.
Once again the Main Stage will light up with its share of blockbuster attractions. Anyone who was lucky enough to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum last summer, and any of the half a dozen other hits knows that summer in Williamstown is special, and unlike almost anywhere else.
Our full report on Nikos Stage Events can be found in this follow up article.
“The 2011 Main Stage Season consists of the kinds of shows I’ve loved doing and seeing at WTF — a big screwball comedy, a Restoration gem, and a new romantic musical with some of my favorite songs,” Gersten said in a statement. “Each is challenging in its own way, and I believe they’ll show the best of what Williamstown can do on our main stage. To that end, we have added additional performances for the first and final shows to allow them to be seen by as many folks as possible in the Berkshires and beyond.”
NOTE: This is an early preseason story. You Can’t Take it With You has been replaced with Three Hotels due to casting deadline problems.
You Can’t Take it With You (Cancelled)
Opening with panache on July 1, 2011 is You Can’t Take it With You. The revival of the Moss Hart and George S.Kaufman timeless comedy is not even open and it is already a Broadway bound revival. Playing from July 1 to 23, it will be directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Memphis, Light up the Sky at WTF.)
It is expected that the production will move to Broadway in August in one of the Shubert houses, not yet announced.
Last presented at WTF in 1966, You Can’t Take It With You is Hart and Kaufman’s masterwork which portrays the colorful, freethinking Sycamore family and the mayhem that ensues when their daughter’s fiancé brings his conservative, straight-laced parents to the Sycamore residence for dinner on the wrong night. Literal and figurative fireworks erupt over the course of the evening in a household that appears to be a madhouse but proves, in fact, to be the opposite: a sanctuary from the lunacies of the outside world.
She Stoops to Conquer
Berkshire and Broadway favotite Nicholas Martin returns – as promised – to direct (what else) a rowdy comedy of mistaken identities.
The former artistic director (Our Town at WTF; Present Laughter; Hedda Gabler) undertakes She Stoops to Conquer from July 27 to August 7 with a cast that features Jonathan Patrick Walker (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at WTF; High Fidelity) as Charles Marlow, Tony Award-nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (Promises, Promises; The Producers; She Loves Me at WTF) as Tony Lumpkin, Tony Award-nominee Paxton Whitehead (The Importance of Being Earnest; Home at WTF) as Mr. Hardcastle, and Drama Desk Award-nominee Kristine Nielsen (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; Les Liaisons Dangereuses) as Mrs. Hardcastle.
Pranks and hijinks abound in She Stoops to Conquer, a raucous 18th-century comedy of big costumes, big sets, big hair, and even bigger laughs. Two well-bred young men arrive at the country estate of Mr. Hardcastle, intending to woo his daughter Kate and her cousin Constance, but when local mischief-maker Tony Lumpkin plays a practical joke on the city-slickers, the Hardcastle household is launched into a dizzying, deliciously preposterous romp of mistaken identity. True to fashion, director Nicholas Martin assembles a fearless ensemble of comic all-stars who will cause locals in the know to line up at the box office.
Ten Cents a Dance
This is a first: a new musical that began its life eight years ago in the other Berkshires, in England. John Doyle created this revue of the music of Rogers and Hart in 2002 at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, Berkshires, UK. Doyle has since become a Tony winner and is well known for his actors-playing-musical-instruments versions of Sweeney Todd and Company.
The press release announcing the season advises you to “prepare to be bewitched and beguiled by Ten Cents a Dance, a new musical conceived by Doyle, who applies his signature style of engaging a company of actor-musicians to bring to life the extraordinary music of Rodgers and Hart. Crooner Johnny wistfully recalls his lifelong love affair of chorus girl Miss Jones, who is embodied by five women, each portraying a different stage of her life. As Johnny and Miss Jones take “Manhattan” under a “Blue Moon” while “Falling in Love with Love,” you can’t help but think “Isn’t it Romantic?” – even if sometimes “The Lady is a Tramp.” These and so many other unforgettable songs – filled with infatuation, longing, and enchantment – will sparkle like a glass of champagne on a sexy summer evening. “All you need is a ticket, come on big boy, ten cents a dance.”
It will run from August 11-28) and will close Williamstown’s Main Stage Season. Tony Award-nominee Malcolm Gets (Amour; Anything Goes at WTF; “Caroline in the City”) plays Johnny and Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages; Sweeney Todd) and Jane Pfitsch (Les Liaisons Dangereuses; Company) will also be featured in this American Premiere production.
The company plans to release more details about the Main Stage shows later, along with the plans for the Nikos Stage Season.
There is a special Main Stage Season Package is available for purchase until March 11, 2011 at www.wtfestival.org. Single tickets for the 2011 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will go on sale June 1, 2011 and can be purchased online at www.wtfestival.org, by phone at (413) 597-3400 or in person at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, 1000 Main St. (Route 2), Williamstown, MA 02167. New curtain times for all Main Stage shows are as follows: Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
About the Williamstown Theatre Festival
The Williamstown Theatre Festival brings award-winning actors, directors, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. A WTF season covers a broad range of theatrical endeavors, revisiting classic plays with exciting new productions on its Main Stage, developing and nurturing bold new works on the Nikos Stage, and offering audiences a rich array of cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs like the Greylock Theatre Project–a program for children in neighboring North Adams.
While best known for its acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to unparalleled training and professional development programs serving new generations of aspiring theatre artists and managers. WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011.