Williamstown Season Features Pygmalion, Bridges of Madison County, Hapgood; Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Burton Among Stars

By Adam Hetrick
February 25, 2013

The Williamstown Theatre Festival summer season will include George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, starring Tony Award winner Robert Sean Leonard; a new interpretation of the classic Marx Brothers musical Animal Crackers; and the world premiere of the new Jason Robert Brown musical The Bridges of Madison County.



The main stage season will open with the slapstick musical comedy Animal Crackers, adapted and directed by Henry Wishcamper, running June 26-July 14. It has a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, and music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Here's how it's billed: "Hooray for Captain Spaulding! The intrepid African explorer, inveterate womanizer, and interminable jokester hobnobs with high society as the guest of honor at a swanky soiree. But when a priceless painting is pilfered, he and the guests are swept up in a screwball search for the thief."

The Shaw classic Pygmalion, staged by Nicholas Martin, will run July 17-27. Robert Sean Leonard (The Invention of Love) will star as professor Henry Higgins, who sets out to transform a poor flower seller into a proper English woman.

The previously announced world premiere of The Bridges of Madison County, featuring music and lyrics by Tony winner Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World) and a book by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, 'Night Mother), will be staged by Tony Award winner Barlett Sher (Golden Boy, South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) Aug. 1-18.

Kelli O'Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Light in the Piazza, South Pacific) was previously reported to appear in the production, though Williamstown has not confirmed any casting for the summer engagement. The musical is based on the novel by Robert James Waller. It centers on a brief, four-day love affair between a photographer and an Italian-American housewife in 1965 Iowa. 

Nikos Stage productions include the world premiere of Bess Wohl's American Hero, staged by Leigh Silverman, June 26-July 7. Here's how Williamstown describes the work: "Three ounces of meat. Two ounces of cheese. Four ounces of lettuce. Seventeen-year-old Sheri and her co-workers at a new submarine sandwich franchise have honed their skills making everything from the Turkey Torpedo to the Big Kahuna Tuna exactly as specified in the corporate manual. But when the franchise owner mysteriously disappears, they are forced to improvise, and Sheri takes charge of the ragtag band of 'sandwich artists.' See just how far they'll go to keep their shop afloat in Bess Wohl's hilarious, surreal tale of the struggle for optimism in tough times, the power of sandwiches, and the glorious, messy American Dream."

Tom Stoppard's Hapgood, starring Tony Award nominee Kate Burton in the title role, will be directed by Evan Yionoulis July 10-21. According to Williamstown, "Treacherous twins and double (or triple?) agents abound in a twisty-turny look at the unlikely interrelation of quantum physics and international espionage. Simultaneously channeling John le Carré, Albert Einstein, and Mel Brooks, Tom Stoppard's Cold-War thriller boasts equal shares of brains, guts, and sly humor. WTF mainstay Burton takes on the tour-de-force title role, the brilliant but eccentric British intelligence chief working to expose a Soviet double agent while attempting to keep her personal life under wraps."

Johnny Baseball, the musical about the Boston Red Sox, featuring a score by Tony Award nominees Robert and Willie Reale, and a book by Richard Dresser, will be staged by Marc Bruni July 24-Aug. 4. The musical had its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in 2010.

According to Williamstown, "The infamous Curse of the Boston Red Sox is brought to life through the changing fortunes of three orphaned souls: Johnny O'Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Sox; his idol, Babe Ruth; and Daisy Wyatt, a dazzling African-American blues singer and the love of Johnny's life. The mystical intertwining of their fates reveals both the source of the Curse and the secret to its triumphant end off Big Papi's bat in 2004. Packing a resonant commentary on social history into a quintessentially American musical, Johnny Baseball will bring cheers and tears to baseball fans and theatre lovers alike."

A fourth production will be announced shortly. Williamstown's free theatrical offering will be Dracula, adapted by Steve Lawson, July 10-19.

Single tickets will go on sale in April. Visit WilliamstownTheatreFestival.