Judd Hirsch tops Dorset Theatre Fest's 2018 season


DORSET — With the announcement of its 2018 summer season, it's now confirmed: Dorset Theatre Festival has become a destination venue, and its star power is here to stay.

Artistic director Dina Janis, now in her eighth season at the helm, said that the planning and decision making for season schedules has now evolved into longer than just an annual cycle.

Pulling in some of Dorset's now established star-power, such as Tim and Tyne Daly, Treat Williams, playwright Theresa Rebeck, and return engagements for actors such as Judd Hirsch, who will headline this season's opening production of "I'm Not Rappaport," (by Herb Gardner, June 21-July 14), all comes into play, Janis said.

"Our seasons emerge now over several years sometimes, with projects that we are cultivating and working forward on for some time, finally finding their moment," Janis said. "For example, Judd [Hirsch] has been wanting to return for a while and this project in particular is one which we have been hoping to find a window of time to do — working around his shooting schedules and such."

Indeed, this would be Hirsch's second appearance at Dorset during Janis' tenure, having appeared to packed houses in 2012 in Michael Cristofer's new play, "The Whore and Mrs. Moore."

Hirsch was so impressed by his experience that three years later, in 2015, when answering a question about his Dorset tenure, he beamed that Northshire audiences "had a good history of expecting new plays and talented Broadway and Off Broadway actors."

"[Dorset] turned out to be the perfect place for me to play, and for the play to get it's most professional chance," Hirsch said. "This was all made possible by the very astute and professional technical management that Dorset is capable of offering. And to prove the interest in the audience response, we broke the house attendance record!"

Now, with another three years passed, Hirsch will help kick off the season with "Rappaport," for which he earned a Tony award on Broadway.

That opening show will be followed by one of the nation's top-produced plays "Skeleton Crew" (by Dominique Morisseau, July 19-Aug. 4), where workers at a Detroit auto factory face financial ruin.

The third show will be the popular adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (by Kate Hammel, Aug. 9-25).

Closing the season will be a collaborative production with Williamstown, Mass.'s WAM Theatre, "Ann," (by Holland Taylor, Aug. 29-Sep. 1) a lively meditation on former Texas governor, the late Ann Richards, which will bring additional star power to Dorset in the form of Emmy-award winning Jayne Atkinson ("Madame Secretary," "House of Cards").

The season will also feature Dorset's new Pipeline Series: Four New Works in Process (June 26, July 10, July 31, and Aug. 12), which Janis said is a step up from its New Play Reading Series, "meant to demonstrate Dorset's move forward as an organization that truly develops new work for the American stage."

"Truthfully, nothing has gone quite as expected these last eight seasons," Janis said. "I really had no idea that we would begin to truly become a destination theatre, and find a new audience and larger regional audience for the artistic community we are building. Last year, we saw so many folks seeking us out from New York City, Boston, the Berkshires, Saratoga County, and Albany. It's truly amazing and a gift."

Dorset Theatre Festival is located at 104 Cheney Road, Dorset.

Info: 802-867-2223 or dorsettheatrefestival.org


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