Williamstown Theatre Festival – Home of the Hits
by Larry Murray
All eyes are on the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) tomorrow as it announces its 2013 season. Every year there seems to be at least one or two works that will have a future beyond the Berkshires.
One of the great things about our local theatre scene is much of the work done in the rural Berkshires is so high in quality that America’s hub of theatrical activity, New York City frequently adopts it for Broadway and off-Broadway. Under Artistic Director Jennie Gersten, WTF continues its vital role as a nationally recognized producer of new and cutting edge work.
Last season both the musical Far From Heaven (2012 Review) and the drama The Elephant Man (2012 Review) brought the producers and theatre owners from the big apple to the Village Beautiful to see what the fuss was about. And both shows are now headed to runs in New York City.
Far From Heaven
Playwrights Horizons will present Far From Heaven, a new musical with book by Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain), music by Tony Award nominee Scott Frankel (Grey Gardens) and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, The Grapes of Wrath), in Spring 2013.
The musical is scheduled to begin on May 8,and run to June 30 at their Mainstage Theatre, just steps from Broadway at 416 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues).
Kelli O’Hara played Cathy Whitaker in the WTF debut, and will repeat her role at Playwright’s Horizons. For more information and tickets, go to Playwrights Horizons
Cathy seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel, with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, and intolerance, as a woman grapples with her identity in a society on the verge of upheaval.
The musical was adapted from the acclaimed, award-winning 2002 Focus Features/Vulcan Productions motion picture Far From Heaven, written and directed by Todd Haynes. It won numerous awards.
The New Cast
The full cast, which welcomes back much of the original Williamstown company, includes J.B. Adams (Parade, Beauty & the Beast, Me & My Girl on Broadway; Annie Warbucks Off-Broadway; the film “Far From Heaven”), Marinda Anderson (From the Inside, Out at NY Fringe Festival; Freedom Train for TheatreWorks USA), Olivier Award nominee Nancy Anderson (Wonderful Town, A Class Act on Broadway; Kiss Me, Kate in London; Yank! Off-Broadway), Elainey Bass (Radio City Christmas Spectacular), Obie Award winner Quincy Tyler Bernstine (In the Next Room on Broadway; Ruined at MTC), Justin Scott Brown (Les Misérables, Spring Awakening national tours), Obie Award winner Alma Cuervo (PH’s The Heidi Chronicles and Isn’t It Romantic?; Titanic, Cabaret, Women on the Verge… on Broadway), Korey Jackson (Wild with Happy at The Public; “Homeland”), Isaiah Johnson (Peter and the Starcatcher; The Merchant of Venice on Broadway), Jake Lucas (Newsies), James Moye (Million Dollar Quartet, Ragtime, White Christmas on Broadway; Happiness Off-Broadway), Julianna Rigoglioso (Pippi Longstocking Off-Broadway; Mary Poppins national tour), Sarah Jane Shanks (Wicked, Promises Promises, Shrek, Wonderful Town, The Apple Tree on Broadway), Tess Soltau (The Addams Family on Broadway; Into the Woods for The Public/Shakespeare in the Park), Mary Stout (Cather County at PH; Jane Eyre, Beauty & the Beast, Me & My Girl on Broadway) and Victor Wallace (Mamma Mia! on Broadway, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera national tours).
The Elephant Man
There wasn’t a ticket to be had when Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper played against type last summer in WTF’s The Elephant Man directed by Scott Ellis and co-starring an equally brilliant Patrica Clarkson. (2012 interview with them) The much in demand actor promised that it would be headed for New York in Fall, 2013. But with one successful film after another, he has had to push the date off to Winter 2013-14. Yet there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that if he returned to the stage in this classic dramatic piece it would be a must-see. You’ve seen Cooper act in films, and he is very good on screen. On stage he is mind blowing.