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Backstage: Edward Gero to star as Mark Rothko in ‘Red’

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The Goodman Theatre in Chicago has announced that Washington actor Edward Gero will play painter Mark Rothko there in the Tony-winning play “Red” by John Logan. Directed by Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls, the show will run Sept. 17-Oct. 23 in Chicago, then come to Arena Stage from Jan. 20 to March 4, 2012.

“I’m very, very excited,” says Gero, who is playing Salieri in “Amadeus” at Round House Theatre in Bethesda through Sunday. Gero appeared at the Goodman in 2006 as Gloucester, opposite Stacy Keach, in Falls’s “King Lear.” That production was remounted at the Shakespeare Theatre Company here in summer 2009.

“Red,” which is set in the 1950s, shows the driven painter working with a young assistant whom he lectures, harangues and debates. Playing Rothko means “another huge role” for which Salieri in “Amadeus” provides “a perfect preamble,” Gero says. “It’s student/teacher . . . apprentice/master . . . father/son. It’s about art, it’s about life, it’s about whether one’s work is significant, which is very similar, I think, to what ‘Amadeus’ is about.”

For Gero, a 13-time Helen Hayes Award nominee and four-time winner, “Red” will be another facet of a multiyear run of meaty roles — from the demon barber in “Sweeney Todd” at Signature Theatre, the hapless junk store owner Donny in “American Buffalo,” the drunk Ivan in “The Seafarer,” the troubled widower John in “Shining City,” all at Studio Theatre, to Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre.

“What happens when you get to be a certain age, roles come your way and it’s sort of a payoff in a way for being around long enough, I suppose,” the actor says.

More ‘Menagerie’

“I think Amanda is misunderstood,” says actress Sarah Marshall about beleaguered matriarch Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie.”

Amanda is unfairly viewed as a harpy, even perhaps by the playwright himself, but she sees her as a heroine, Marshall says.

Starting Thursday, Marshall will star at Arena Stage’s intimate Kogod Cradle in a remount of the production done in March at Georgetown University as part of a festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of Williams’s birth.

A Helen Hayes Award winner, Marshall has long served as an adjunct professor of acting at Georgetown. She’ll be performing opposite recent theater grads.

“It’s such a beautiful role. . . . She’s just delicious,” says the actress of Amanda. Marshall calls herself a “huge fan” of Williams but still feels the need to defend Amanda, even against the playwright on whose mother the character is based.

“She’s just described as a harpy and overbearing mother,” Marshall says. “I cannot see it. I do not see it. At times — this is terrible — at times I think I like her even more than Tennessee Williams [does].” To the actress, Amanda is a heroine who keeps her family together during the Depression without a husband, working menial jobs. She “has two introvert children, and she is clearly an extrovert. And she is just trying to lift them up. . . . I think she is a fantastic heroine.”

“I’m biased, of course, but I think that Sarah’s performance, even for people who’ve seen great Amandas . . . kind of wipes the slate clean,” says Derek Goldman, who directed Marshall in the play. He is the artistic director of Georgetown’s Davis Performing Arts Center and an associate professor of theater and performance studies.

“The Glass Menagerie Project” will run at Arena through July 3. In addition to the full production of “Menagerie,” the offerings will include two shorter pieces devised for the festival and Christopher Durang’s one-act “Menagerie” spoof “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls.” For details, visit ­www.arena­stage.org .

Follow spots

l The Source Festival of new works will run Friday through July 3. Jenny McConnell Frederick, director of performing arts for the Cultural Development Corporation, which runs Source, has reorganized the event so that all of its elements run throughout the three weeks. Audiences will also be able to catch the festival’s full menu over marathon weekends. The entrees include 18 10-minute plays; “Artistic Blind Dates,” which are new pieces conceived by artists collaborating from differing disciplines; three new full-length plays; and a one-time-only July 1 talent show. Visit www.sourcedc.org/
festival
for details.

l  The Bay Theatre Company in Annapolis announces its 2011-12 season: “Wit” (Sept. 30-Nov. 6) by Margaret Edson, starring Rena Cherry Brown, directed by Richard Pilcher; “Becky’s New Car” (Dec. 2, 2011-Jan. 8, 2012) by Steven Dietz; “Love Letters” (Jan. 27-March 4, 2012) by A.R. Gurney, starring married-to-each-other Valerie Leonard and Nigel Reed; and “The Belle of Amherst” (March 30-May 6, 2012), William Luce’s solo piece about Emily Dickinson. Jerry Whiddon will direct Kathryn Kelley.

Horwitz is a freelance writer.

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