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Boston Metro Spotlight: August 2007

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Kate Burton and Morgan Ritchie
in The Corn is Green
(© Andy Tew)
What will it take to get you out of the heat and into a theater for some well-earned escapism? In addition to air conditioning, the area's summer theaters are sweetening the deal with some top-flight enticements.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival's three stages are sizzling. In The Corn Is Green (August 1-12), a 1938 classic by Emlyn Williams directed by Nicholas Martin, Kate Burton (Williams' goddaughter) plays an idealistic schoolteacher determined to bring literacy to a Welsh mining town, and in particular to an intransigent teenager played here by Burton's own son, Morgan Ritchie. The top-notch supporting players include Dylan and Becky Ann Baker and Ginnifer Goodwin.

Next up at WTF is Friedrich Dürrenmatt's 1962 comedy The Physicists (August 7-18), featuring WTF artistic director Roger Rees as Sir Isaac Newton -- or, at any rate, a sanatorium inmate convinced of this exalted identity. Up next, Kathleen Turner directs Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart (August 8-19), the 1979 Pulitzer Prize winner about a trio of Southern sisters undergoing assorted crises. Jennifer Dundas, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe play the beset siblings, with Chandler Williams and Patch Darragh as the men in their lives.

The WTF season-closer is a doozy: The Autumn Garden (August 15-26), Lillian Hellman's 1951 study of a circle of friends facing midlife: The star-studded cast includes Allison Janney, Elizabeth Franz, Mamie Gummer, Jessica Hecht, Brian Kerwin, and Maryanne Plunkett. And just for a little something extra, Raúl Esparza narrates as the Stage Manager in a one-day reading of Thornton Wilder's Our Town (August 17).

Down the road, Barrington Stage Company artistic director Julianne Boyd puts her mark on Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (August 9-26), with Jack Gilpin in the title role and Heidi Armbruster as the ravishing Yelena. Meanwhile, BSC's Musical Theatre Lab mounts The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (August 21-September 1), based on Chris Van Allsburg's wordless children's book.

At the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Lisa Banes plays the working mother of Shaw's classic drama Mrs. Warren's Profession (August 14-September 1), with 2007 Tony Award nominee Xanthe Elbrick as her emancipated daughter and Randy Harrison as the ardent suitor. The final show of the BTF season is Willy Russell's crowd pleaser Educating Rita (August 21-October 20), starring Jonathan Epstein and Tara Franklin.

The Chester Theatre Company (no longer going by the confusing name of "Miniature Theatre") offers Jeffrey Hatcher's Mercy of a Storm (August -12), a comedy about a mismatched marriage set in 1945, and Craig Wright's Grace (August 15-26), about a condo complex full of eccentric Floridians.

Back in Cambridge, the American Repertory Theatre -- in concert with Minneapolis' Theatre de la Jeune Lune -- starts its season with a pair of productions: Don Juan Giovanni and Figaro (August 31-October 6), both performed by a mixed cast of opera singers and actors. The first play pairs Mozart's Don Giovanni with Moliere's Don Juan: the two lotharios set off on a priapic, contemporary road trip. Figaro melds Mozart's Marriage of Figaro with the original Beaumarchais trilogy -- specifically, the third installment, The Guilty Mother -- with Figaro now in power, as he shields his former master from the French Revolution. It's all very complex, but sure to intrigue.

In the Boston environs, North Shore Music Theatre proffers the East Coast premiere of the new musical version of the classic novel, The Three Musketeers (August 21-September 9), with a cast led Kevyn Morrow, Aaron Tveit, and Kate Baldwin. Gloucester Stage remounts The Widow's Blind Date (August 16-September 2), one of founder Israel Horovitz's most successful plays.

Out on Cape Cod, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre presents Rinne Groff's What Then (August 1-September 2), about a harried working mom who decides to take up dreaming as a profession.

The New Provincetown Players presents a host of New York and international favorites: The Amaaaaaazing Seth Rudetsky DeConstructs Broadway (August 2); The Andrews Boys: Pat, Max and Vern (August 11-12); composer Andrew Lippa with Australian chanteuse Kaye Tuckerman (August 13); and Tony nominee Emily Skinner (August 27). Gail Nelson also settles in for a longer run as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill (August 18-September 2).

The Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro revives Derek Walcott's 1978 farce Pantomime (August 9-September 2), about a British hotel owner on Tobago who reenacts Robinson Crusoe with his black handyman, only with roles reversed. And the Cape Playhouse in Dennis concludes its 81st season with Gerald Moon's macabre comedy Corpse! (August 13-25) and Ken Ludwig's ever-popular operatic farce Lend Me a Tenor (August 13-25), with Hunter Foster as Max and his equally adorable wife Jennifer Cody as Maggie.


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