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Blythe Danner to return for Williamstown Theater season; new musical to premiere

Williamstown Theatre Festival has announced two of the productions for its 2012 season
Williamstown Theatre Festival has announced two of the productions for its 2012 seasonWilliamstown Theatre Festival

Williamstown Theatre Festival veteran (and Tony Award winner) Blythe Danner will be returning to the esteemed festival this summer to star in the world premiere of Lucy Boyle's new play "The Blue Deep," while a new musical from the creators of "Grey Gardens" will enjoy a preview production on the Festival's Mainstage, Artistic Director Jenny Gersten has announced.

The 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) season will be its 58th and second under Ms. Gersten’s leadership. The new musical, "Far From Heaven," is based on the acclaimed, award-winning film of the same name by Todd Haynes. The new musical adaptation boasts a book by Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out), an original score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and directed by Michael Greif (Rent; WTF’s Three Sisters). It is scheduled to play the Main Stage from July 19 – 29, 2012.

The world premiere of Boyle’s new play is scheduled for the Nikos Stage from July 11 – July 22, 2012, to be directed by Drama Desk Award-winner Bob Balaban (Gosford Park; WTF’s “Fridays@3”) and featuring Danner, whose credits at WTF include The Seagull, The Sweet Bye and Bye, and The Three Sisters, among many others.

“It gives me a thrill to start telling our communities what we’re planning this summer, particularly by initiating our season announcement with these two new productions,” Gersten said. “Both Michael Greif and Blythe Danner have created exquisite work in Williamstown over many years, and with them we welcome new wonderful talent to our stages. Next month when we announce the rest of the schedule, I think audiences will find a compelling mix of the familiar and the unexpected to round out the picture of our 2012 season.”

Billed as a "preview production," Far From Heaven will allow the creative team the ability to make changes over the course of the run to further develop the musical. The show comes to the Festival under the aegis of a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Playwrights Horizons for the development of new musicals in partnership with a regional theater, wholly within the non-profit system from start to finish.

In the musical, Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel––with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is billed as "a story of romance, betrayal, intolerance, and a woman grappling with her own identity in a society on the verge of great upheaval." Casting will be announced at a later date.

Both Danner and Balaban participated in a sold out reading of The Blue Deep last summer as part of WTF’s Fridays@3 series. In the play, 26-year-old Lila Miller is stuck, while her mother, Grace, 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. According to a WTF press release, "The Blue Deep is an achingly honest and funny play about loss, growing up, and the benefits of aquaerobics."

“I'm ecstatic about returning to WTF, our family’s home for so many, many summers,” Danner commented. “Jenny Gersten heads the company with the same expertise and passion that has become WTF’s trademark since Nikos’s day," she added, referring to the late Nikos Pscharapolous, the long-time Artistic Director of the Festival who first welcomed Danner to the WTF stage. "I hope audiences love this beautiful new play by the talented Lucy Boyle as much as I do.”

Although the full 2012 Season will be announced next month, special discount ticket bundles are available at www.wtfestival.org. To receive the best discounts offered, purchase ticket bundles before February 25th when package prices increase. Single tickets for the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be available in April either through the WTF website (www.wtfestival.org) or by mail order using WTF's season brochure (call 413.597.3400 to join the mailing list). The WTF Box Office will open on June 5th at which point tickets may be purchased online, by phone or in person at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance Box Office at 1000 Main St (Route 2), Williamstown, MA 02167.

Since 1954, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought America's finest actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. Each WTF season is designed to present opportunities for artists and audience alike, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs

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