As the run of Oliver Goldsmith’s comic masterpiece, She Stoops to Conquer, draws to a close, by all means rush to catch it while you can. You will see an endlessly amusing and enlightening classic, a handsome set, and a cast of highly talented actors, including WTF favorites like Richard Easton, Paxton Whitehead, and Brooks Ashmanskas. The production is fast-moving—at the cost of some excessive trimming—and funny, as a good part of the audience found it. That said, it is a far-from-perfect production, in fact it is seriously flawed, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from seeing the show and enjoying it. There is a lot to enjoy, and much of the audience enjoyed Kristin Neilsen’s wildly exaggerated portrayal of Mrs. Hardcastle. You may even find that you are among them.
Our beloved Williamstown Theatre Festival has announced its Mainstage productions for the 2011 season, which will extend from July 1 to August 28. (Information about the Nikos Stage Season, as well as additional details about the Main Stage Season, will be announced at a later date.) This will be the first season under the festival’s new Artistic Director, Jenny Gersten, whose appointment was announced last spring. She is the third Artistic Director of the WTF within the past seven years, but no matter: she, like her predecessors, has had a long involvement with the Festival, as associate producer from 1996 to 2004, the years when Michael Ritchie ran it as Producer 1996-2004. He was succeeded by Roger Rees, who only lasted from 2004 to 2007 as Artistic Director. Nicholas Martin then took over. Mr. Martin suffered a stroke only a year into his tenure. After a period of recovery, the stroke seemed to impair his creative work very little, but it did force him to make choices — to Broadway’s benefit. All of these people have had strong connections with Broadway, as well as the non-profit theatres of New York. Hence there has been a solid continuity at the Festival in spite of this rapid succession of quick changes.
Thornton Wilder’s Our Town lives and breathes and gently enlarges how we see ourselves way beyond the confines of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire or small town America — thanks to the current production at the Williamstown Theater Festival directed by Nicholas Martin. Martin has staged it exactly as it was written and first produced in 1938 at the McCarter Theater in Princeton and a month later on Broadway. The text is verbatim and the notes for no scenery — only wooden straight-backed chairs (quite an enormous number here hang off the backdrop), two round wooden tables and no props — are followed to a T.