A pair of Shakespeare offerings, a new version of a French classic and a contemporary star vehicle about opera’s Maria Callas will run in repertory at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum this summer.
Company Artistic Director Ellen Geer will direct a new production of “Hamlet” and she’ll direct her own adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers.” For good measure, Ellen Geer will also play Callas in Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” for director Heidi Helen Davis.
“Hamlet” opens the season June 5 and runs through Oct. 2. Company regulars Mike Peebler and Jeff Wiesen will alternate in the title role. “Musketeers” joins the lineup June 12 and continues through Oct. 3. “Master Class” opens July 3 and plays through Sept. 25. “Master Class” centers on an over-the-hill and now vocally broken Callas conducting a master class for up and coming singers and reliving key incidents in her life.
The Theatricum will also remount its crowd-pleasing production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Melora Marshall. “Dream” runs June 6-27 and Aug. 5-Sept. 26.
Commentary: I’ve praised the Theatricum in the past for tackling some less often produced Shakespeare. Last year, the company staged the not frequently seen “Cymbeline.” They also did “Julius Caesar” and the same “Midsummer Night’s Dream” we’ll get this year. Plus Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and Moliere’s “The Miser.”
This year, then, Geer and Co. offer one less production, and the casualty is a Shakespeare play. With “Dream,” the Theatricum must be hoping for repeat business from people who have seen and enjoyed the production in the past. There may be a new generation of people looking to catch a summer production of “Dream,” but my gosh that play is staged a ton. Same goes for “Hamlet,” although at least this will be a new production. I’m thinking crowd pleasing may be the name of the game here. Three of the titles are super familiar, and “Master Class” will draw Callas and Ellen Geer fans alike.
“Musketeers” could be a lot of fun, and if Ellen Geer was destined to play Maria Callas, it makes a certain sense that it would be for the company that bears her name. The show was a monster success for actress Zoe Caldwell, who won the Tony award for the role, and a production later toured with Faye Dunaway. As we speak, Tyne Daly is currently playing the role in a production at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center as part of a McNally celebration.
Info: (310) 455-3723 or go to www.theatricum.com.