Former summer theater opens for cold season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Westport Country Playhouse will reopen its $18 million renovated and expanded theater in June with a four-show slate with a recent Off-Broadway musical revival and three Brit and American chestnuts.

But for the first time in its 75-year history, the former summer theater will present plays, readings, concerts and screenings during the cold-weather months as it makes the first stirrings toward becoming a year-round venue.

Irish Rep’s Off-Broadway concert version of “Finian’s Rainbow,” directed by Charlotte Moore, will open the season June 16-July 3. J.M. Barrie’s 1918 play “Dear Brutus,” helmed by Alley Theater’s Gregory Boyd, runs July 7-24. Joanne Woodward will direct Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding” July 28-Aug. 14. Boyd returns to stage R.C. Sheriff’s antiwar play “Journey’s End,” which recently had a long run on the West End.

Outgoing artistic director Woodward, who led the campaign to save the theater from demolition in the 1990s as well as a $30 million drive to raise the funds for endowment, new programming and year-round status, exits that role at the end of the year for the newly created position of a.d. emeritus. Her successor is expected to be named this summer.

There will be productions of plays to be named in October and in early 2006. A musical version of “David Copperfield” will run Dec. 1-18, adapted and staged by Giles Havergal. Also planned are a series of concerts, children’s shows and films screenings.

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