Photo Flash: Kate Baldwin and Lewis Cleale Lead Westport's I DO, I DO!
Westport Country Playhouse will stage the joyful and touching musical, "I Do! I Do!," starring Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin and Drama Desk Award nominee Lewis Cleale, August 10 - 28, as part of its 80th Anniversary Season. Written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, composers of "The Fantasticks," the endearing story spanning 50 years in the marriage of Agnes and Michael will be directed by Susan H. Schulman.
A charming journey through happiness and sorrow, good times and bad, "I Do! I Do!" features an array of captivating songs encompassing all the richness and variety of experience inherent in taking the plunge into a life spent with someone you love.
"I couldn't be more excited that this special group of artists has come together for ‘I Do! I Do!,'" said Artistic Director Mark Lamos. "Tom and Harvey's joyful celebration of marriage has been a sentimental favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. And to have Susan, who's such a distinguished and sensitive interpreter of musical theater, directing this outstanding duo of Kate and Lewis is a rare gift. I'm sure they're going to make magic."
Kate Baldwin starred on Broadway in "Finian's Rainbow," for which she received nominations for Tony and Outer Critics Circle awards. She was also on Broadway in "Wonderful Town," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "The Full Monty." On tour, she appeared in "Irving Berlin's White Christmas." New York credits include four Encores! presentations. Regional work includes "South Pacific," for which she received a Helen Hayes Award nomination and "She Loves Me," for which she earned an IRNE Award nomination. For PBS, she appeared in "Live from Lincoln Center: Stephen Sondheim's Passion."
Lewis Cleale appeared at Westport Country Playhouse in "Hot ‘n Cole." In the last year he starred in the world premiere of "Giant"; played Lancelot in "Camelot"; appeared as El Gallo in "The Fantasticks"; and was part of "Sondheim on Sondheim" with Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams. Other Broadway shows include "Spamalot," "Amour," "Once Upon a Mattress" with Sarah Jessica Parker, and "Swinging on a Star," for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. He won a Helen Hayes Award for a regional production of "Passion."
Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt began their musical collaboration writing "The Fantasticks" for a summer theater at Barnard College. After its off-Broadway opening in 1960, it went on to become the longest-running production in the history of the American stage and one of the most frequently produced musicals in the world. It is currently running in a successful revival in New York. The team's first Broadway show was "110 in the Shade" in 1963. "I Do! I Do!" originally starred Mary Martin and Robert Preston on Broadway in 1966. In addition to an Obie Award and the 1992 Special Tony Award for "The Fantasticks," in 1999, their "stars" were added to the Off-Broadway Walk of Fame outside the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
Director Susan H. Schulman's Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning musical "The Secret Garden," which earned 12 Drama Desk and seven Tony award nominations; the revival of "Sweeney Todd," for which she received Tony and Drama Desk award nominations for Outstanding Direction; and the revival of "The Sound of Music," a Tony Award-nominated Revival. For her direction of the acclaimed musical "Violet," winner of New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical, she also received a Drama Desk Award nomination. She received an Obie Award for directing "Merrily We Roll Along," a production which also received the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival. For the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, she has directed six productions.
Choreographer Michael Lichtefeld has choreographed six Broadway musicals and eight shows at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He has been nominated as best choreographer for the Drama Desk Award, The LA Ovation Award and three Outer Critics' Circle Awards. He was nominated as best director for the Independent Reviewers of New England Award and won as best choreographer.
Music director Joel Fram has worked extensively in New York and London, conducting the Broadway productions of "Wicked," "Sweet Smell of Success," "The Music Man," "James Joyce's The Dead," "Jumpers" and "Cats." He is currently an associate music supervisor for international productions of "Wicked."
The production and design team includes Wilson Chin (Broadway's "Next Fall"), scenic design; Devon Painter (off-Broadway's "This Side of Paradise"), costume design; Philip Rosenberg (Kennedy Center and other regional theaters), lighting design; Domonic Sack (Broadway musicals, opera, movie premieres and concerts), sound design; Melanie T. Morgan, production stage manager; Kathy Fabian/Propstar, properties coordinator; and Janet Foster, C.S.A., casting.
Corporate production partner for "I Do, I Do!" is Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, The Bender Financial Group. Board of trustees production sponsors are Helen Lee Henderson and Johnna Torsone and John McKeon. Board of trustees production partners are Barbara and John Streicker.
Single tickets range from $40 to $60; opening night tickets, including post-performance reception, are $65. Subscriptions to all five plays are available for preferred seating and pricing. Students and educators are eligible for 50% discounts. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30%. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.
About The Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse, a not-for-profit theater, serves as a treasured home for the performing arts and is a cultural landmark for Connecticut. Under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management direction of Michael Ross, The Playhouse creates quality productions of new and classic plays that enlighten, enrich and engage a diverse community of theater lovers, artists and students. The Playhouse's rich history dates back to 1931, when New York theater producer Lawrence Langner created a Broadway-quality stage within an 1830s tannery. The Playhouse quickly became an established stop on the New England "straw hat circuit" of summer stock theatres. Now celebrating its 80th season, Westport Country Playhouse has produced more than 700 plays, 36 of which later transferred to Broadway, most recently the world premiere of "Thurgood" and a revival of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" with Paul Newman, and in earlier years "Come Back, Little Sheba" with Shirley Booth, "The Trip to Bountiful" with Lillian Gish, and "Butterflies Are Free" with Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner. For its artistic excellence, The Playhouse received a 2005 Governor's Arts Award and a 2000 "Connecticut Treasure" recognition. It was also designated as an Official Project of Save America's Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is entered on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, The Playhouse transformed into a year-round, state-of-the-art producing theater, which has preserved its original charm and character. In addition to a full season of theatrical productions, The Playhouse serves as a community resource, presenting educational programming and workshops; a children's theater series; symposiums; music; films; and readings.
Westport Country Playhouse's five-play 2010 season: "She Loves Me," a romantic musical comedy, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, directed by Mark Lamos, April 20 - May 15; "Dinner with Friends," a comic drama by Donald Margulies, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, June 1 through 19; "Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett, a play of luminous beauty and rare power, directed by Mark Lamos, July 6 through July 24; "I Do! I Do," an endearing musical, with book and lyrics are by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, directed by Susan H. Schulman, August 10 through August 28; and "The Diary of Anne Frank," a timeless and powerful classic, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman, directed by Gerald Freedman, September 28 through October 16.
For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office (M-F, 12 to 6 p.m.) at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at www.westportplayhouse.org.