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First Person

Enter stage right

Seven productions, including three musicals, are on tap for Jenny Gersten, artistic director for Williamstown Theatre Festival, opening June 26.

Jenny Gersten. eric limon for the boston globe

My season planning starts with a series of conversations with different directors. I say, “What are you most passionate about these days?” Then we sort of LOOK IN EACH OTHER’S EYES for glimmers of excitement.

I was a little skeptical when Bartlett Sher, who is the director of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, brought it to me, because I thought we didn’t need to explore this story any further than it had already been explored. I actually found [the musical version] quite remarkable and worthwhile, much to my surprise. [The creative team] look at it as a really romantic, sexy story about the lost true love of your life, and that sings really well.


Bess Wohl I’ve known for many years. A year ago February, she told me she was writing this new play called American Hero, and I immediately gravitated to the idea. Probably the thing that sealed the deal is when she told me there’s a DREAM SEQUENCE WITH A SANDWICH. Her idea is to set something in a franchise at a mall, a sandwich franchise — it could be anywhere in America — and really look at the blue-collar sort of the 99 percent workforce and how it gets treated by corporations.

As someone who runs a theater in Massachusetts, it was almost my duty to do A RED SOX MUSICAL. The creative team has been doing a lot of changes to the book and some new songs, so it will be significantly different structurally than what people may have seen at [Cambridge’s] A.R.T. I do hope that the Williamstown production sort of gives Johnny Baseball a greater life.

I think that Animal Crackers is going to surprise people in a really good way. I don’t think we have ENOUGH SILLY IN OUR LIVES these days, and I don’t think we have enough tap dancing, either. — As told to Amy Amatangelo


Interview has been edited and condensed. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.