Joely Richardson, the English actress best known to U.S. audiences for her role in FX series “Nip/Tuck,” will take on Emily Dickinson in an Off Broadway production of “The Belle of Amherst,” the solo play in which she will portray a total of 15 characters.
First produced in a 1976 Broadway production that starred Julie Harris, William Luce’s one-woman show mixes poetry, letters and diary entries to create a portrait of poet Dickinson, who lived a reclusive life in Amherst, Mass., in the 19th century. Steve Cosson, artistic director of theater troupe The Civilians and the director of last season’s Off Broadway success “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play,” will direct Richardson in the show, lined up for a fall run at the Westside Theater.
Don Gregory, the producer of the original Broadway run of “Belle of Amherst,” also produces the commercial Off Broadway staging that stars Richardson. Among his credits are a string of solo bio-plays including “Clarence Darrow,” “FDR” and “Paul Robeson.”
Commercial Off Broadway productions have become increasingly rare, as producers increasingly find that Off Broadway languishes in the shadow of splashier Broadway productions with larger marketing budgets. “Belle of Amherst” aims to attract attention with a title that has become familiar to many theater fans over the years, as well as with the casting of Richardson.
“The Belle of Amherst” begins previews Oct. 7 prior to an Oct. 19 opening.