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Audra McDonald Will Star in ‘Streetcar’ at Williamstown Theater Festival


A revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams, directed by Robert O’Hara (who recently staged “Slave Play” on Broadway) and starring Audra McDonald, Carla Gugino and Bobby Cannavale, will open the Williamstown Theater Festival’s season this summer. The season, announced Monday, will also include four new plays and a new musical, along with a new production of the Anna Ziegler play “Photograph 51.” It will run from June 30 through Aug. 23 in Williamstown, Mass.

“I think when you look at contemporary work by living playwrights, especially alongside some of the great canonical writers and their work, you’re really looking at the American experience in both directions,” Mandy Greenfield, the festival’s artistic director, said in a phone interview. “You’re looking at who we were at a moment in time, and you’re looking at who we will be, who we can be, who we are currently.”

That should be especially pronounced during the summer of an election year.

In addition to “Streetcar,” which will run through July 19 and cast McDonald as Blanche DuBois, the Main Stage will host “Cult of Love,” a dark comedy from Leslye Headland, a creator of the Netflix series “Russian Doll.” The play had a brief run at a small theater in Los Angeles in 2018, but hasn’t been seen elsewhere. This production will be directed by Trip Cullman; its cast will include Kate Burton (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Taylor Schilling (“Orange Is the New Black”). The story centers on a family grappling with differences in religious, political and sexual identity while at home for the holidays. (Ms. Greenfield called it a “family drama for our moment.”) It runs July 22 through Aug. 2.

“Photograph 51,” the Ziegler play, will close out the Main Stage season. The Tony-winning director Susan Stroman will direct the new production, which comes five years after Nicole Kidman starred in the play in London’s West End. The story is based on the life of Rosalind Franklin, a British scientist who produced pivotal research on DNA in the early 1950s. It will run Aug. 6-23.

The rest of the season’s performances, all world premieres, will take place in the festival’s smaller theater. They are: “Wish You Were Here,” a play by Sanaz Toossi about the effects that the Iranian Revolution has on a group of friends; “Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club,” a play by Shakina Nayfack about gender confirmation surgery that centers on a group of transgender women at a hotel in Thailand; “Row,” a musical with a book by Daniel Goldstein and music and lyrics by Dawn Landes that follows the first woman to row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean solo (it’s based on the autobiography of Tori Murden); and “Animals,” a play by Stacy Osei-Kuffour about a spontaneous marriage proposal.

Works at the festival often go on to have a life in New York. Expect some of the above to carry on that tradition.

More information can be found at wtfestival.org.

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