All’s Weill that ends well at Westport

Playhouse adds some 'Spice'

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Westport Country Playhouse is adding to what’s shaping up to be a Weill year.

In addition to the Roundabout Theater Company’s “The Threepenny Opera” this spring and “LoveMusik,” the Harold Prince-helmed Broadway-bound production centering on the relationship between composer Kurt Weill and his wife, Lotte Lenya, comes “Jam & Spice,” the Weill song cycle that will receive its world preem at Westport June 1-18.

The work will kick off the five-play summer season under new artistic director Tazewell Thompson. Six performers and six musicians will feature in the music-dance work compiled by Thompson and music arranger-orchestrator Dianne Adams McDowell.

Thompson said his work in the opera world helped him win the OK from the Weill estate despite the new Prince production. “LoveMusik” will have a book by Alfred Uhry and is expected on Broadway later in 2006 after an out-of-town run, according to Prince.

“The Threepenny Opera” begins perfs at Studio 54 on March 23. Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Cyndi Lauper, Ana Gasteyer and Nellie McKay star.

Following “Jam & Spice,” the Playhouse’s 76th season will feature a pair of plays that have seen much action on the regional circuit: Canadian scribe Michael Healy’s three-hander “The Drawer Boy” (June 22-July 9) and Thompson’s “Constant Star” (July 13-30), a play with gospel music in which five actresses perform as Ida B. Wells, the antilynching crusader, suffragist and journalist.

Filling the fourth summer slot will be the five-hander sexual romp “A Marriage Minuet,” by David Wiltse (Aug. 3-20). The summer season will end with a rarely produced Arthur Miller play, 1977’s “The Archbishop’s Ceiling,” directed by Gregory Mosher (Aug. 24-Sept. 10).

The Playhouse kicks off its first year-round schedule with Eric Overmyer’s “On the Verge (or the Geography of Yearning),” running March 9-25. Thompson, who succeeded Joanne Woodward as Westport a.d. this month, is helming the show, a co-production with D.C.’s Arena Stage.

The fall selection at Westport will be Jon Marans’ play “Old Wicked Songs” (Oct. 19-Nov. 5). The year will end with a new adaptation with holiday music, written and staged by Thompson, of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 29-Dec. 23).

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