(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Williamstown Theatre Festival opened its 58th anniversary season last Friday (June 28, 2012) with simultaneous opening-night performances of Oscar Wilde’s quintessential comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest, is directed by TV star David Hyde Pierce, and the world premiere of The Blue Deep, written by Lucy Boyle, directed by veteran character actor Bob Balaban, and starring WTF veteran Blythe Danner, star of stage and screen.
The Importance of Being Earnest, running on the Main Stage through July 14, 2012, is reimagined as if a family of Guys and Dolls-style gangsters moved to Downton Abbey-style London in order to escape certain entanglements. What if two of these wise guys fell hard for two tough dolls? And what if the formidable dame who runs the aforementioned criminal family developed an appetite for cucumber sandwiches? Director Pierce, whose portrayal of Niles Crane for 11 seasons on NBC’s Frasier earned him four Emmy Awards, renders Oscar Wilde’s high society satire with a new flavor and accent.
The cast of Earnest features Marylouise Burke (Fuddy Meers) as Miss Prism, Louis Cancelmi (This) as Algernon Moncrieff, Helen Rita Cespedes as Cecily Cardew, Sean Cullen (South Pacific) as Lane, Tony and Emmy Award winner Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey, Master Class, Gypsy) as Lady Bracknell, Glenn Fitzgerald (The Sixth Sense) as Jack Worthing, Paul Anthony McGrane as Merriman, Amy Spanger (Elf, Rock of Ages) as Gwendolen Fairfax, and Henry Stram (WTF’s R Shomon) as Chasuble with Charlotte Bydwell, Julian Cihi, Alexander Seife, and Ariana Seigel.
The Blue Deep, on the Nikos Stage through July 8, 2012, stars Becky Ann Baker (WTF’s Our Town), Emmy and Tony Award winner Blythe Danner (WTF’s The Seagull, Meet the Parents), Jack Gilpin (WTF’s Design for Living), Boardwalk Empire regular Heather Lind (former WTF Non-Equity Company), and Finn Wittrock (Broadway’s Death of a Salesman).
Though only in her twenties, Lila Miller (Lind) is stuck, while her mother, Grace (Danner), is perpetually in motion. When Lila returns home to her family’s exquisite Hamptons house and garden with only a plastic bag and a broken heart, there’s no nurturing to be found, except as pertains to horticulture. The same painful history that threatens to drive mother and daughter permanently apart ultimately evolves into the one realm where reconnection might be possible. The Blue Deep is an achingly honest and funny play about loss, growing up, and the benefits of aquaerobics.
Now under the leadership of artistic director Jenny Gersten, WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011.