Julie Taymor Returns to New York Stage with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

5:31 PM PST 07/31/2013 by David Rooney
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Julie Taymor

The Off Broadway production, featuring David Harewood of "Homeland," is part of a season that also includes Michael Shannon in Ionesco's "The Killer."

NEW YORK -- There is life after Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

In her first New York stage venture since her rocky experience as the director and co-creator of that Broadway blockbuster, Julie Taymor will return to her artistic roots with an Off Broadway production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Starring David Harewood (Homeland) as Oberon, Tina Benko as Titania, Max Casella as Bottom and Kathryn Hunter as Puck, the production will inaugurate Theatre for a New Audience's new home, the Center for Shakespeare and Classical Drama in Brooklyn. 

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It begins previews Oct. 19 for a Nov. 2 opening, and will feature original music by Taymor's partner and frequent collaborator, the Oscar-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal.

Taymor, whose production for Disney of The Lion King is among the highest-grossing stage properties of all time, has an extensive history with Theatre for a New Audience, stretching back 30 years. She has previously staged Shakespeare's The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus, as well as Carol Gozzi's The Green Bird, for the 34-year-old Off Broadway company.

In April, Taymor and the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark reached a settlement in the lawsuit over her abrupt dismissal from the show during its troubled preview period.

Also on the 2013-14 season lineup for Theatre for a New Audience is King Lear, directed by Arin Arbus and starring veteran British classical actor Michael Pennington. That production begins performances March 14.

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In his first role for the company, Michael Shannon will star in Theater of the Absurd maestro Eugene Ionesco's rarely staged The Killer, in a new translation by former Village Voice chief theater critic Michael Feingold. Directed by Darko Tresnjak, that production begins performances May 17.

Looking further ahead, Theatre for a New Audience has also announced that its 2014-15 season will include Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne's production The Valley of Astonishment; John Douglas Thompson in Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine Parts I and II, directed by Michael Boyd; and Juliet Rylance in the Thornton Wilder version of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, directed by Arbus.

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