When she was an undergraduate majoring in Russian studies at Brown University, Kate Burton had no intention of pursuing a career in the theater. She was going to be a diplomat. In her senior year, she had the choice of studying abroad at Leningrad State University or playing the tortured young actress Nina in a student production of “The Seagull.” She chose Chekhov, and she’s been acting in his plays ever since. “That began my love affair with Chekhov,’’ the auburn-haired actress says.
She’s played the young Anya and the aging matriarch Madame Ranevskaya in “The Cherry Orchard” and all three siblings in “Three Sisters.” She was in a film version of “Uncle Vanya” directed by Anthony Hopkins. She’s shared the stage with Colleen Dewhurst, Christopher Walken, and Kristin Scott Thomas, working her way through the roles of youthful women searching for identity to the well-established middle-aged leading ladies.