Classics staging a comeback at ART

'Vanya,' 'Ulysses,' Hotel' among slated prod'ns

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — The premieres of two new works of musical theater plus revivals of plays by Chekhov, Euripides, Durrenmatt and Shakespeare will make up the 2002-03 season of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., the first under the nonprofit’s new triumvirate of artistic director Robert Woodruff, associate a.d. Gideon Lester and executive director Robert J. Orchard.

Robert Brustein, founding a.d. of both Yale Repertory Theater and the ART, will retire as the latter’s a.d. at the end of its current season, which will close with a musical version of “Lysistrata” in an adaptation by Brustein.

The new season, which suggests the group’s new leadership will follow closely in the footsteps of Brustein, begins Nov. 30 with a production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” adapted and directed by Janos Szasz.

‘Ulysses’ first preem

The first of the two premieres will be “Highway Ulysses,” with music and text by Rinde Eckert, directed by Woodruff and featuring rock band the Empty House Cooperative. Written for the resident acting company, it transplants Homer’s “Odyssey” to the American heartland. Performances begin March 1.

The second preem is “Hotel of Dreams,” with music by Philip Glass and text by David Henry Hwang, also directed by Woodruff. The Hwang stories, to which Glass applies Asian and Western instrumentation, lay bare the dreams and fantasies of a Japanese writer and an aging warrior. It begins perfs May 24, 2003.

Other production are Euripides’ “The Children of Herakles,” staged by Peter Sellars; Durrenmatt’s “The Visit,” directed by Anne Bogart in association with her Siti Co.; and Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” directed by Andrei Serban.

The ART is based at Harvard University’s Loeb Drama Center in Harvard Square. The company won’t perform in Cambridge’s Hasty Pudding Theater in 2002-03, as it often does, because that theater will be closed for renovation.

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