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Wolfe helms 'Macbeth,' mulls 'Town'

:NEW YORK — Two big projects are on tap for legit director George C. Wolfe: Alec Baldwin will tackle one of Shakespeare’s finest — and toughest — roles next January when he teams with the director in an Off Broadway production of “Macbeth.” Wolfe will also direct a musical in Central Park this summer, and though a title has not been confirmed (or a final decision made), a revival of “On the Town” is a good bet.

Rehearsals will begin mid-January for the winter staging of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” at Wolfe’s Joseph Papp Public Theater. A Lady Macbeth has not been cast.

Baldwin’s last stint on a New York stage was as Stanley Kowalski in the 1992 production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway. He co-starred with Jessica Lange. His most prominent stage role prior to that was in Off Broadway’s “Prelude to a Kiss,” a part he recreated for the 1992 film version.

The “Macbeth” project, initiated by Baldwin, was brokered by his agent George Lane of the William Morris Agency and, for the Public, the theater’s artistic producer Rosemarie Tichler. Baldwin has met at least twice with Wolfe to discuss approaches to the project. The production was confirmed by a Public spokeswoman; neither Wolfe nor Baldwin was available for comment.

“Macbeth” apparently will be Baldwin’s first professional foray into Shakespeare. Other 20th-century thesps who’ve taken on the role include Orson Welles, Ian McKellen, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

If details are finalized and Wolfe gives the go-ahead, “On the Town” will occupy the second summer slot of the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park season. The 1944 musical by composer Leonard Bernstein and authors Betty Comden and Adolph Green will be the Public’s first Central Park offering following the official end of the theater’s Shakespeare Marathon (the Bard canon finishes with “Henry VIII” in June).

A spokeswoman for the Public said only that Wolfe will direct a musical this summer.

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