As he contemplated the casting process for the upcoming summer season at Lenox-based Shakespeare & Company, the thoughts of artistic director Allyn Burrows kept returning to the place where he hung his own professional hat for so long: Boston.
“I was conscious that Shakespeare & Company hadn’t really auditioned in Boston in years,’’ says Burrows, the former artistic director at the Somerville-based Actors’ Shakespeare Project who also acted there as well as at Huntington Theatre Company. “I said ‘Guys, we’ve got to get to Boston and read people.’ ”
“Not only is there a wealth of talent in that town, but everybody’s machine is constantly oiled, because they go from show to show to show,’’ he explains. “They’ll do eight shows a year, and they work at such a level of professionalism and artistry. It’s something to see.’’
Western Massachusetts audiences will get a chance to judge that for themselves this summer, because Burrows has enlisted some of Boston’s best-known — and, yes, busiest — theater figures for summer stints in the Berkshires. They include, among others, the actors Aimee Doherty, Steven Barkhimer, and Bill Mootos, none of whom have performed before at Shakespeare & Company; the director Melia Bensussen, and the ubiquitous set designer Cristina Todesco. “We have a really deep bench of Boston talent out here this summer,’’ says Burrows.
His own family could be considered “Boston talent’’ transplanted to the Berkshires: Burrows and his wife, the respected actress Tamara Hickey, relocated to Lenox a year ago with their daughter after he was appointed leader of Shakespeare & Company.
While Shakespeare & Company also conducted auditions as usual in New York and in the Berkshires while casting the upcoming summer season, Burrows suggests that what he calls “this really strong connection to the Hub’’ will not be a one-time thing, saying: “I’m really excited to open up this avenue down the middle of the state.’’
From May 24 to July 15, Barkhimer will costar with Corinna May in the New England premiere of “Morning After Grace,’’ a comedy by Carey Crim. Bensussen will direct “Macbeth,’’ starring Jonathan Croy and Tod Randolph, from July 3 to Aug. 5, with a set design by Todesco. From July 10 to Aug. 18, the company will present “Love’s Labor’s Lost’’ outdoors at the Dell at the Mount, directed by Kelly Galvin, who recently completed her MFA at Boston University.
Burrows says the production of August Strindberg’s “Creditors’’ that is slated for July 19-Aug. 12 will represent the first time Shakespeare & Company has tackled Strindberg. Doherty will play Rosalind in a Burrows-directed production of “As You Like It’’ that will be set in the Roaring Twenties and performed outdoors in the Roman Garden Theatre from Aug. 9 to Sept. 2.
Tina Packer, the founding artistic director at Shakespeare & Company, will helm Simon Stephens’s “Heisenberg’’ from Aug. 11 to Sept. 2, featuring Hickey and Malcolm Ingram.
From Aug. 16 to Sept. 9, Mootos will costar with Annette Miller in Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,’’ a drama about a woman who arrives unexpectedly at the Manhattan apartment of her dead son’s lover, who is now married with a child.
Rounding out the season from Sept. 13 to Oct. 7 will be Taylor Mac’s “HIR,’’ featuring Elizabeth Aspenlieder and John Hadden, and directed by Alice Reagan.
Don Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@GlobeAucoin.