williamstown theatre festival | WAMC

williamstown theatre festival

In a collaboration devised to meet the challenges posed by the global health pandemic, the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be the first-ever complete theatre season released by Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks.

The 2020 WTF Season on Audible is being produced in an audio-only format safe to elevate, entertain, and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes. While this season is different, it is being made with the spirit of invention that has long been a hallmark of the Festival.

The new work looks to transport you into the world of Blanche DuBois in 1940s New Orleans, into a hotel in Thailand where Kina prepares for gender confirmation surgery, onto Tori McClure’s rowboat as she rows solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and so much more.

To tell us about it – we welcome Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of WTF.

Two older white men stand in front of a marble colonnade
Josh Landes / WAMC

As COVID-19 related closures wreak havoc on Berkshire County cultural institutions, two state legislators are moving to create a relief fund to support them.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival logo - the festival's name in white block letters on a blue backdrop
Williamstown Theatre Festival

Broadway will be dark until at least June 7th, and the COVID-19 outbreak is leading to a spate of cancellations among Berkshire County’s cultural institutions, too. Jacob’s Pillow called off its summer season for the first time in its 88-year history, the Chester Theatre Company cancelled three of its four scheduled shows, and Barrington Stage Company is moving to a “wait and see” model. Whatever happens, the county’s tourist-based economy is in for yet another shock.

On Tuesday, the Williamstown Theatre Festival joined that list with an announcement that it won’t put on its summer season – at least, not on stage. WAMC spoke with the festival’s artistic director, Mandy Greenfield, to find out what happens next.

Playwright Bess Wohl is making her Broadway debut with “Grand Horizons” - a co-commission from The Williamstown Theatre Festival and Second Stage Theater - now in previews at The Hays Theatre in New York City and officially opening on Thursday, January 23.

Wohl’s other plays include “Small Mouth Sounds” “Make Believe” “Continuity,” “American Hero,” “Barcelona,” “Touched,” “In,” “Cats Talk Back” and “Pretty Filthy.” She is an associate artist with New York based investigative theater troupe The Civilians and her plays have been produced at theater companies around the country. She is the recipient of the 2015 Sam Norkin Special Drama Desk Award for “establishing herself as an important voice in New York theater” and the John Gassner Outer Critics Circle Award. She is a MacDowell fellow and an alumna of Ars Nova’s Play Group.

“Grand Horizons” is directed by Leigh Silverman and stars Jane Alexander and James Cromwell as a couple navigating divorce after being married for 50 years. Ben McKenzie and Michael Urie play their adult sons. The cast is rounded out by Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, and Ashley Park.

The final Mainstage show of the 2019 Williamstown Theatre Festival season is a new translation of Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts" by Paul Walsh, directed by Carey Perloff.

With great happiness, Mrs. Alving (Uma Thurman) welcomes her painter son Oswald (Tom Pecinka) home from years of living abroad. But when he starts to flirt with the family maid (Catherine Combs), she must intercede to save her son and herself from scandals present and past. Mrs. Alving struggles to find joy in a life bound by the strictures of Pastor Manders (Bernard White) and the spectral chains of mistakes from long ago.

Bernard White joins us to talk about the production.

Actor Deirdre O’Connell joins us to discuss her work in the World Premiere of Adam Bock's "Before the Meeting," which is currently running on The Nikos Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. The production is directed by Trip Cullman.

Every day, Gail (O’Connell) and the regular members of her early morning group set up for their meeting in the exact same way: Nicole makes the coffee, Gail arranges the chairs, and Ron complains. As they forge a path toward sobriety and well-being, they come to rely on the routine and each other. But when Gail’s estranged granddaughter reopens old wounds, Gail knows it will take more than coffee, chairs, and companionship to keep her life from falling apart.

A few of O'Connell's credit include Broadway's "The Front Page" and "Magic/Bird;" television's "Nurse Jackie," "The Closer," and "Six Feet Under," and the films "A Dog Year," "What Happens in Vegas." and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Actor Thomas Sadoski is currently appearing on the Main Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival starring in the world premiere of Bess Wohl's "Grand Horizons" with Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, Ashley Park, Jamey Sheridan, and JoBeth Williams. TV viewers will recognize Sadoski from his work on HBO's "The Newsroom" and the recently cancelled CBS hit "Life in Pieces." Moviegoers have seen him in "Wild" and "John Wick: Chapter 2" just to name a few and those who love theater may have seen him in his Tony nominated work in "Reasons to be Pretty" or in "House of Blue Leaves," "The Tempest," or "Other Desert Cities" - for which he won a Tony Award.

"Grand Horizons" runs through July 28 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The play is scheduled to run at Second Stage Theater in New York City in December. It is directed by Leigh Silverman.

André Braugher In "A Human Being, Of A Sort" At Williamstown Theatre Festival
Williamstown Theatre Festival - Joseph O'Malley

André Braugher is a Golden Glove and Emmy Award winner best known for his roles in "Homicide: Life on the Street" and the current NBC sitcom, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." He is currently starring in the Williamstown Theatre Festival's World-Premiere production of Jonathan Payne's "A Human Being, of a Sort."

Braugher plays a Southern convict named Smokey who is guarding the Bronx Zoo's most sensational exhibit: Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy. 

Based on a true story, the play takes place in 1906, the public's fascination intensifies and protestors call for Ota's release, Smokey must grapple with the fact that his own freedom depends on another black man's captivity. 

"A Human Being, of a Sort" is directed at Williamstown by Whitney White and runs through July 7.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2019 summer season is about to get underway, the 65th season for the Tony Award-winning theatre company, which will include a production of  "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry marking the 60th anniversary of the Broadway opening, a new translation of Henrik Ibsen’s "Ghosts," five world premieres, two WTF-commissioned plays, and much more.

The season, running from June 25 – August 18, 2019, begins on the Main Stage with "A Raisin in the Sun" by Tony Award nominee Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Obie and NAACP Award winner Robert O’Hara and featuring Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Obie Award winner Francois Battiste. 

Mandy Greenfield is the Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Roslyn Ruff (Berenice) - THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING  By Carson McCullers  Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch  Williamstown Theatre Festival  August 5 - 19
Carolyn Brown / Williamstown Theatre Festival

Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding,” directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, is running on the Main Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival through August 19.

Set in the South on the eve of a family wedding in 1945, housekeeper Berenice Sadie Brown tries to calm the nerves of her 12-year-old charge, Frankie, a tomboy - lonely and uncertain - struggling to feel a part of something.

McCullers novel was published in 1946 and the author adapted the story for the stage where it opened on Broadway in 1950.

Roslyn Ruff plays Berenice Sadie Brown. Ruff’s an accomplished television, film, and stage actress with Broadway credits that include “Romeo and Juliet” with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and “All the Way” with Bryan Cranston.

Samira Wiley (Pretty Mbane) - DANGEROUS HOUSE  By Jen Silverman  Directed by Saheem Ali  Williamstown Theatre Festival  August 8 - 19
Sarah Sutton / Williamstown Theatre Festival

For its final Nikos Stage production of the 2018 season, The Williamstown Theatre Festival presents “Dangerous House,” a new play by Jen Silverman directed by Saheem Ali.

Set in Cape Town, South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, “Dangerous House” contrasts the celebration of global football against a devastating truth of South African culture when it comes to gender roles and sexuality.

Samira Wiley plays Pretty Mbane. Wiley is an Emmy nominated Actress for her work as Moira on the Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and she played Poussey for four seasons on the Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”

Josh Landes / WAMC

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Community Works project is bringing Berkshire locals together with theater professionals for a main stage event opening Sunday.

Theresa Rebeck's new play "Seared" opens on Wednesday night on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival - her third play to premiere at WTFest. In "Seared," between the smell of sizzling garlic and balsamic drizzle, tempers are boiling over in an on-stage kitchen. Chef Harry has poured his heart into his intimate Brooklyn restaurant and it is finally paying off. A rave review has New Yorkers flocking through his door and selling out every table, but is this the success he has been dreaming of?

This also marks the start of a string of new productions for Theresa Rebeck. After "Seared," she'll premiere her new Broadway play "Bernhard/Hamlet" starring Janet McTeer followed by a New York premiere of "Downstairs" starring Tyne and Tim Daly and the release of her film, "Trouble" starring Anjelica Houston and Bill Pullman.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s second Main Stage production this year is the World Premiere Musical “Lempicka,” book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer, music by Matt Gould, and directed by Rachel Chavkin.

Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish artist best known for her Art Deco paintings, was an active participant in the artistic and social life of Paris between the World Wars. She transformed herself from destitute refugee to a star of the art world. The musical explores the beauty and danger of one painter pursuing it all.

Sarah LaDuke spoke with Matt Gould and Rachel Chavkin in separate interviews that are both posted here.

Gould is the co-writer of "Invisible Thread" (Second Stage and The American Repertory Theater). He’s the recipient of the 2012 and 2014 Richard Rodgers Award, the Jonathan Larson Award and ASCAP’s Rodgers Award, Dean Kay, and Harold Adamson Awards.

Chavkin received Tony and Lortel nominations, and the Drama Desk, Elliot Norton and the prestigious Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards for her direction of "Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812" (Broadway, Ars Nova, Kazino, A.R.T.). Other select credits include "The Royale" (Old Globe, LCT- Obie Award, Lortel & Drama Desk Nomination), "Small Mouth Sounds" (Ars Nova, Nat’lTour), and "Hadestown" (New York Theatre Workshop). She is the Founding Artistic Director of The TEAM.

Actor Joshua Boone is back at The Williamstown Theatre Festival after making his debut at the festival last year in two plays, "Actually" and "Where Storms are Born." He now stars in James Anthony Tyler’s “Artney Jackson,” where he plays Perkins Howard.

Perkins is one of the employees of the cable company where the play is set. He has was left by his parents at the age of 15 when they were deported. He finished high school and made enough of himself to land a job that allows him buy cool sneakers and a $700 dollar rug from Costco.

Boone appeared on Broadway in the Tupac Shakur musical "Holler if Ya Hear Me" in 2014.

Ann Harada is best known for the musical "Avenue Q," in which she originated the role of Christmas Eve, the heavily accented Japanese therapist who had such winning numbers as "The More You Ruv Someone" and "Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist."

She has also starred on Broadway in "Les Miz," "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella" and TV’s "Smash." She is at The Williamstown Theatre Festival starring in Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Closet” as Brenda, the office worker nobody quite likes or trusts but who is always ready to launch into a show tune.

Jessica Hecht was last seen on Broadway in Arthur Miller’s "The Price." Before that she starred as Golda in "Fiddler on the Roof" and was in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of "The Assembled Parties." She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in "A View From the Bridge."

She was at Williamstown Theatre Festival last season to star in "The Clean House" with Jayne Atkinson and returns this season in "The Closet," where she plays Pat Pennebarry, Martin O'Reilley's (Matthew Broderick) only friend and eternally optimistic co-worker -- who can’t bake enough muffins to stave off her romantic longings for him.

We speak with Hecht about "The Closet," doing comedy, and The Campfire Project which uses the power of theater and Shakespeare to provide Syrian Refugees in Camp Ristona with an outlet to exercise imagination and express their humanity.

Matthew Broderick will forever be linked to the cinematic classic of 1986, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." However, before doing that at age 24 – he had already won a Tony Award for Neil Simon’s "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and had starred in Simon’s follow-up "Biloxi Blues." All of this after making his stage debut in Harvey Fierstein’s "Torch Song Trilogy."

Now, Broderick stars in this world premiere comedy by Douglas Carter Beane, "The Closet," as Martin O’Reilly who is stuck in Scranton, PA in a dead-end job at a religious supply company, his marriage is over, and his son won’t return his calls. Then a stranger, played by Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas, sashays into his world and drags Martin and everyone around him out of their respective closets.

"The Closet" runs through Saturday night on the Main Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Halley Feiffer
Kirk McCoy / LA Times

Halley Feiffer is a writer and actor. Her plays include "I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City," and "How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them." Her play "Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow" had its world premiere at The Williamstown Theatre Festival last summer. She has appeared on Broadway in "The Front Page" with Nathan Lane and "The House of Blue Leaves" with Edie Falco. 

Tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock there will be a Fridays@3 reading of Feiffer's new play, "Saying Goodbye to the People I Love From My Bathtub." Fridays@3 readings take place at The Clark Auditorium.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2018 summer season gets underway later this month and will feature seven productions running from June 26 to August 19.

The season will kick off with the world premiere of “The Closet” by Douglas Carter Beane. It is a comedy is about a divorced man who is stuck in a dead-end job in Scranton, Pa., and finds solace in his optimistic female co-worker. Matthew Broderick, Jessica Hecht, and Brooks Ashmanskas will star on the Main Stage.

The season continues on the Nikos Stage with the world premiere of Adam Rapp’s “The Sound Inside” which is about an accomplished professor at an Ivy League university who allies herself with a student to tackle a challenge. Mary-Louise Parker will star and David Cromer will direct.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield joins us.

artcountry.org

This summer, five major cultural institutions in and around northern Berkshire County are offering visitors a unique deal.

Museum Collective Announces Summer Ticket Plan

Apr 25, 2018
artcountry.org

Representatives of the five-member ArtCountry collaboration have announced new ticket options for museumgoers in the Berkshires this summer.

Play With Berkshire Roots Wins Pulitzer

Apr 16, 2018
http://wtfestival.org

A play that premiered in the Berkshires has won a Pulitzer Prize. 

Sarah LaDuke and Lonny Price
Joe Donahue

The third Main Stage production of the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2017 season is A Legendary Romance. Written by Timothy Prager and Geoff Morrow and starring Jeff McCarthy and Lora Lee Gayer, A Legendary Romance is directed by Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee, Lonny Price.

Price played Charley in the ill-fated original production of Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway -- an experience which he has lately translated into an acclaimed documentary film The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened (which is now available to stream on Netflix).

He’s an award winning director who helmed the recent Broadway revival of Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close. Other directorial credits include Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill starring Audra McDonald -- which is running in London this summer -- and episodes of the television programs 2 Broke Girls and Desperate Housewives and the screen-via-stage favorites Great Performances and Live from Lincoln Center. He’s also a writer and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2001 for the book of A Class Act. As an actor he has a number of theatrical credits after Merrily and several films, including The Muppets Take Manhattan and Dirty Dancing.

Jeff McCarthy, Sarah LaDuke, Geoff Morrow, Cody Owen Stine
Photo: Joe Donahue / Artwork by Ligature Creative


  The new musical, A Legendary Romance is The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s third and final Main Stage show this season. The show will run in Williamstown August 3rd through the 20th.  

With a book by Timothy Prager and Music and lyrics by Geoff Morrow, A Legendary Romance is directed by Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Lonny Price and stars Jeff McCarthy as Joseph Lindy - a filmmaker blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee and struggling to restore his personal and professional legacy.

For a preview of the production, we were joined at The Linda by Jeff McCarthy who plays Joseph Lindy, Geoff Morrow, and, playing piano, Cody Owen Stine - Associate Music Director for A Legendary Romance and WTF’s Cabaret Director.

artwork for Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow
Artwork by Ligature Creative

Obie Award winner and Drama Desk nominee Trip Cullman directs Outer Critics Award nominee and Theater World Award Winner Halley Feiffer’s world premiere of Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow: a contemporary adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. The show runs at The Williamstown Theatre Festival July 26 through August 6.

Thomas Sadoski plays Andrey. Sadoski currently stars on CBS' Life In Pieces. Previous television credits include HBO's The Newsroom, and NBC's The Slap. Broadway credits include Reckless, Reasons to be Pretty, House of Blue Leaves, and Other Desert Cities.

Micah Stock and Joe Donahue
Sarah LaDuke

Our next guest has made quite a splash on Broadway. He made his debut in 2014 in Terrance McNally’s It’s Only a Play starring Nathan Lane. For that role, Micah Stock was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He was most recently seen on Broadway in last year’s revival of The Front Page also starring Nathan Lane plus John Goodman and John Slattery.

He is spending his summer in the Berkshires starring in not one, but two productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. He just finished up a run in Jason Kim's The Model American. Next up, he plays Tuzenbach in Halley Feiffer's Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow (as in Costco) - a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters opening July 26th on the Nikos Stage.

Rebecca Taichman and Joe Donahue
Sarah LaDuke

Last Month at the Tony’s, for the seventh time in the history of the Tony Awards, a woman’s name was announced as the winner of Best Director of a Play and that woman was Rebecca Taichman, who directed and co-created, along with playwright Paula Vogel, Indecent

Indecent also marked Rebecca’s Broadway debut, after years of directing at major Off-Broadway and regional theatres including her frequent collaborations with playwrights like Sarah Ruhl.

Even though Taichman won the Tony, the show was set to close June 25th. But in a rare turnaround, the producer, citing an outpouring of public support for the show, decided to keep “Indecent” open through August 6th at the Cort Theatre.

Now, she is in Williamstown, MA to direct Jayne Atkinson and Jessica Hecht in The Clean House by Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl. The show opens July 19th and runs through July 29th on the Main Stage. 

Sarah LaDuke and Myra Lucretia Taylor
Joe Donahue


  Mourning the loss of her elder son Myles, Bethea tries to help her younger son Gideon through his grief. But as revelations surrounding Myles’ incarceration and death emerge, both mother and son must decide whether to fight or let go.

Where Storms Are Born is a new play by Harrison David Rivers having its world premiere on the Nikos Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, MA through July 23rd. Rivers was the Williamstown Theatre Festival Playwright-in-Residence in 2016.

The play is directed by Saheem Ali and stars Myra Lucretia Taylor as Bethea Solomon - a woman living in grief and demonstrating love and resilience.

S. Epatha Merkerson and Joe Donahue
Sarah LaDuke

The Williamstown Theatre Festival season opener on the main stage is Jen Silverman's new play The Roommate. Directed by Mike Donahue, the show continues through July 16th. The cast is led by Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Jane Kaczmarek.

Merkerson is cast as Sharon, who is empty-nested and alone in her Midwestern home and takes on a roommate, Robyn (played by Kaczmarek). Before she has even unpacked, Robyn challenges everything about Sharon’s way of life.

S. Epatha Merkerson is best known for her role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren from 1993 to 2010 on NBC’s Law & Order. She appeared in 391 episodes of the series—more than any other cast member.  She currently stars as Sharon Goodwin, the Chief Administrator of the Gaffney Chicago Medical Center Hospital on NBC’s Chicago Med

Pages