LENOX -- The Bard of Avon will be keeping company with Bertolt Brecht, Tom Stoppard, Terrence McNally and Martin McDonagh this summer at Shakespeare & Company.

Shakespeare will be represented by two full productions -- "Love's Labour's Lost" and "Richard II," both of which will be performed for the first time on the Tina Packer Playhouse stage. They will be joined there the previously announced "Mother Courage and Her Children" by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Shakespeare & Company artistic director Tony Simotes and starring Academy Award-winner Olympia Dukakis, Apollo Dukakis and OBIE Award winner John Douglas Thompson.

The smaller Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre will feature Terrence McNally's "Master Class," Tom Stopard's "Heroes" and Martin McDonagh's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane."

"I couldn't be more energized about the potential of this great season," Simotes said in a news release announcing the company's 2013 summer season.

"I'm delighted to welcome back a number of artists who made our 35th season such an incredible success, including Olympia Dukakis, Rocco Sisto, and John Douglas Thompson, three dear friends of mine, who will be playing very different roles from the ones they portrayed last summer."

*

"Love's Labour's Lost" will open the Tina Packer Play house summer season on June 22 (press opening June 29).

Under the direction of Lisa Wolpe, "Love's Labour's Lost" will feature Mark Bedard, who is making his Shakespeare & Company debut, and company veteran Jonathan Croy.


Advertisement

Wolpe is producing artistic director of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, an all-female Shakespeare company that recently won the "Sustained Excellence" award from the Los Angeles Critics Circle. She returns to Shakespeare & Company, where she last played Sicinius, Brutus, and Valeria in "Coriolanus" (2001).

The Tina Packer Playhouse will also feature a special limited run, July 5 through 21 (press opening July 12), of Shakespeare's rarely produced history play, "Richard II," directed by longtime Shakespeare & Company member Timothy Douglas, and featuring three-time OBIE Award winner Rocco Sisto in the title role and Tom O'Keefe as his nemesis, Henry Bolingbroke.

Bertolt Brecht's timeless and profound statement on war, "Mother Courage and Her Children," begins performannecs July 26 (press opening Aug. 2) in the Playhouse, where it is scheduled to run through Aug. 25.

The Bernstein Theatre season begins May 24 (press opening -- May 31) with Terrence McNally's portrait of famed opera singer Maria Callas, "Master Class." The production runs through Aug. 18.

The role of Callas will be portrayed by Elliot Norton and IRNE Award-winner Annette Miller, star of last summer's hit comedy, "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife." Deborah Grausman co-stars as a talented vocal student. Grausman's acting credits include Wendy in "Peter Pan," which garnered her a Philadelphia Theater Critic Award nomination for best lead actress in a musical; Seama in the Off-Broadway production of "A Stoop on Orchard Street"; and Chava in a national tour of "Fiddler on the Roof."

*

Daniel Gidron returns to Shakespeare & Company to direct the production. Gidron directed Miller in "Golda's Balcony" at Shakespeare & Company in 2002 and again in 2009, a performance that garnered Miller an Elliot Norton Award for best solo performance. Gidron's directing credits also include productions with the Lyric Stage Company, Gloucester Stage Company, and Merrimack Repertory, among many others. He is the associate director of the Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge.

Following "Master Class," Shakespeare & Company will present Tom Stoppard's translation of Gérald Sibleyras' "Heroes" (June 13-Sept. 1; press opening June 14), featuring company veterans Jonathan Epstein, Malcolm Ingram and Robert Lohbauer as three World War I veterans in a retirement home, recounting their storied lives. Kevin G. Coleman will direct.

*

Founding artistic director Tina Packer returns to the Shakespeare & Company stage shortly after closing her Off-Broadway run of "Women of Will," performing in Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's harrowing play, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Aug. 8 through Sept. 15; press opening Aug. 9). Packer will portray Mag, the manipulative mother of spinster Maureen (Elizabeth Aspenlieder).

Jason Asprey co-stars. Film, television, and theater director Matthew Penn will direct. Penn's television directing credits include "Damages" with Glenn Close and "Law and Order," for which he directed the Emmy-nominated 200th episode featuring Julia Roberts. He is the co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwright's Lab and has directed numerous theatrical productions for the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York. This will be his Shakespeare & Company debut.

In addition to the productions, Shakespeare & Company will persent a number of special events and programs, including "Broadway in the Berkshires," a benefit performance in support of the company's education and training programs; a special workshop presentation of a new opera, "Pearl," to benefit the company's Actor Training Scholasrhip Program; the 25th anniversary Fall Festival Gala in October; The Studio Series; and The Bankside Festival.

"Our 36th season is going to be a very exciting time for our organization," Simotes said.

Tickets go on sale Thursday: online at www.shakespeare.org or by calling (413) 637-3353.

The plays

Tina Packer Playhouse

* "Love's Labour's Lost" by William Shakespeare. Directed by Lisa Wolpe. June 22 - Sept. 1. Press opening: June 29

* "Richard II" by William Shakespeare. Directed by Timothy Douglas. July 5 - 21. Press opening: July 12 (special limited run)

* "Mother Courage and Her Children" by Bertolt Brecht. Directed by Tony Simotes. July 26 - Aug. 25. Press opening: Aug. 2.

Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre

* "Master Class" by Terrence McNally. Directed by Daniel Gidron. May 24 - Aug. 18. Press opening: May 31

* "Heroes" by Gérald Sibleyras. Translated by Tom Stoppard. Directed by Kevin G. Coleman. June 13 - Sept. 1. Press opening: June 14

* "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Matthew Penn. Aug. 8 - Sept. 15. Press opening: Aug. 9

Tickets -- $95-$10 -- are available beginning Thursday. Ticket
information available online at www.shakespeare.org or by phone at (413) 637-3353.