EXCLUSIVE: I hear that the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s eagerly anticipated revival of Fool For Love is about to undergo a key casting switch: Out are leads Chris Pine (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; Cinderella’s Prince in Disney’s upcoming bowdlerization of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods) and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under; USA Network’s upcoming Dig); in are Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back) playing opposite Tony winner Nina Arianda (a sensation in Venus In Fur whose upcoming films include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Barry Levinson’s The Humbling).
Rockwell and Arianda play former lovers Eddie and May in Sam Shepard’s ferocious 1983 drama, in which the exes rock’n’sock it out in a Mojave Desert motel room. The 1985 Robert Altman film version starred Shepard and Kim Basinger. The Williamstown cast also features Christopher Abbott and Gordon Joseph Weiss. Directing is the extraordinarily gifted Daniel Aukin, who previously staged Shepard’s Heartless at New York’s Signature Theatre as well as Amy Herzog’s 4,000 Miles for Lincoln Center Theater and the hit black comedy Bad Jews for the Roundabout Theatre Company.
The official reason for the change will be “scheduling conflicts,” though it’s all very last-minute and Pine has strong ties to the group, having begun his career at Williamstown (where Jenny Gersten is winding down her final season as artistic director before Mandy Greenfield takes over in the fall). The famed Berkshire Mountains stage is a star magnet (it’s even the subject of Donald Margulies’ Broadway-bound dramedy The Country House, currently in a pre-Broadway run at the Geffen Playhouse) with a long tradition of sending shows to Broadway. A 2012 revival of Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, with Bradley Cooper in the title role, is about to open a limited run at the Booth Theatre, and last summer’s big show, The Bridges Of Madison County, had a brief but Tony-winning run during the New York season that just ended. A New York transfer of Fool For Love is also contemplated — if Eddie and May strike sparks beyond the festival’s Nikos Stage.