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American Players Theatre looks ahead to 2007
The stage and amphitheatre at American Players
The stage and amphitheatre at American Players Theatre.
Credit:Zane B. Williams

American Players Theatre reports that a record 110,407 patrons attended its 2006 season, which was full of crowd-pleasers like Romeo and Juliet, Arms and the Man and Julius Caesar. For 2007, the classical troupe goes farther out on a limb.

Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice are both popular Shakespeare plays, but Timon of Athens is relatively little known and rarely produced. (Indeed, APT is making its first stab at the Bard's late tragedy, which scholars tend to consider an unfinished work.) Misalliance and The Night of the Iguana are lesser-known works from George Bernard Shaw and Tennessee Williams, respectively.

But hey, we're not complaining. APT deserves praise for looking in quirky corners of the canon rather than repeating warhorses like A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The full list and press release descriptions of APT's 2007 productions follow below:

American Players Theatre is pleased to announce its 2007 season, which begins June 9 and runs through October 7.

Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
Fun and frolic gallop full tilt across the idyllic, sun-drenched Italian countryside in one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies. With Beatrice and Benedict lighting it up in a display of witty verbal fireworks. Ken Albers, who directed APT's hit production of Measure for Measure last year, returns.

By George Bernard Shaw
The works of George Bernard Shaw have been on APT's schedule for four of the last five years. In 2007, the trend continues with one of Shaw's funniest and best-known works. A highly volatile comic infusion of wit, wisdom and irony comes to a frothy brew on a summer's afternoon in the English countryside. Eight marriage proposals are in play, including a couple that fall from the sky, literally, as a small plane crashes into the greenhouse of the estate. John Langs, making his APT debut, will direct.

The Merchant of Venice
By William Shakespeare
It has been 13 years since APT last tackled this masterpiece. A lively, sophisticated comedy with a controversial bite, The Merchant of Venice is driven by the forces of love and money undercut by a fierce anti-Semitism. Veteran APT director James Bohnen, who most recently directed Arms and the Man in 2006 and Candida in 2005 heads the production.

The Night of the Iguana
By Tennessee Williams
A defrocked minister turned tour guide leads a busload of American tourists to a broken down resort on the steamy coast of Mexico. Here he finds powerful deliverance in the company of a bawdy innkeeper, an ethereal 40-year-old virgin and her aged poet father. This is APT's first-ever production of a Tennessee Williams play. William Brown, who most recently directed APT's productions of The Matchmaker (2006) and Twelfth Night (2004) will return to direct.

Timon of Athens
By William Shakespeare
APT has covered most of the Shakespeare canon, but this marks their first production of this play. An exotic mix of tragedy, fairy tale and romantic fable, this is the story of one man's generosity gone sour by the very lack of it in others. Turned out into the wilderness, his adventuring leads to retribution and some of the most magnificent ravings in all of Shakespeare. Kate Buckley, who directed APT's 2005 critically acclaimed production of Macbeth, returns to take on Timon.

The entire core acting company is expected to return for the 2007 season, including: Tracy Michelle Arnold, David Daniel, Sarah Day, Jim DeVita, Colleen Madden, Brian Robert Mani, Paul Bentzen, James Ridge, Jonathan Smoots. Specific casting for all the shows is in progress and will be announced in the spring.

More information about American Players Theatre is available online, including a blog detailing its 2006 production of Romeo & Juliet as seen through the eyes of the actors playing the title roles.

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