Lenox — “It’s going to be a belt-tightening season,” said new Artistic Director Allyn Burrows to a small gathering of press folks and most of the permanent staff of Lenox’s cherished Shakespeare & Company. In his maiden season as Director there are many physical changes taking place. The Shakespeare Garden opposite the Tina Packer Main Stage will become an outdoor playhouse with a production of the Bard’s “The Tempest at Twilight” with company favorite Nigel Gore as Prospero. This will play from August 10 through September 3 with a cast of eight actors taking on all the required roles. There are twelve principal parts in this play in which magic and mythology overwhelm the mere human.
The Tina Packer will only offer one play this year instead of three plays which has been the recent norm. Packer herself will complete the canon of Shakespeare’s plays directing “Cymbeline” which the playwright had anticipated as his final work (that was actually “The Tempest”). “It’s rather a kitchen-sinker of a play,” Burrows offered. Packer added, “Twenty-five of the other plays are in it . . . and it’s rather a Harry Potter world.” Playing for one month, July 4 through August 6, it will feature Jonathan Epstein and Tamara Hickey in a cast of ten actors playing 34 roles.
The season opens on the Elayne P. Bernstein Stage with Amy Herzog’s play “4,000 Miles” featuring Annette Miller in the role of a grandmother/host trying to understand her somewhat delinquent grandson who arrives on her doorstep. The two of them are dealing with life-altering shocks. This cast of four will be playing their roles from May 27 through July 16.
Following this play will be another Berkshire premiere, Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” which will bring Nehessaiu deGannes back to our local stages along with Christianna Nelson. This play is about two women in 1905 who become integral to one another’s lives. It will be seen from July 20 through August 13, a considerably shorter run than its predecessor. The play was last seen locally on the Dorset Theatre Festival stage in Vermont.
At the Dell Theatre at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home down the road, the company will bring back their more classic look at Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from July 11 through August 19. The show features the company’s young Northeast touring company, directed by Jonathan Croy.
That same youthful company has been doing a play each year in the Rose Footprint Theatre but this year they will not be doing a second play in that space which will do a youth theater project and serve as a backup space for “The Tempest” in case of rain.
Wharton One-Acts, adapted by Dennis Krausnick will play in the Bernstein Theatre from August 17 through September 10. David Joseph, Corinna May and Diane Prusha will reprise their roles in “Roman Fever” and a second three-character adaptation, “The Fullness of Life” will join the revival on stage. According to the company’s press release, “Tea and levity shall be served.”
Their season ends with Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage” directed by Matthew Penn from September 14 through October 8 featuring Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Allyn Burrows and Jonathan Croy (a fourth player to be announced).
“We want to encourage people to come on the property, to picnic, to enjoy the beauty of the gardens, to see what we have to show them,” Burrows said. With that in mind, the company is also hosting three weekends of singer/storytellers on the main stage in August and presenting their annual gala on July 1. The layouts of both interior theaters are being reconfigured and the styles of production may be altered as well based on the spaces.