ART Celebrates 10th Season

Celebrities, Patrons Gather for Premiere of Gozzi Play

Singer Carly Simon and TV journalist Mike Wallace sipped champagne with friends and patrons of the American Repertory Theater (ART) last night in celebration of the theater company's 10th season opening.

The opening included the world premiere of Carlo Gozzi's avant garde play, "The Serpent Woman," followed by a banquet for the ART's guests and cast.

Those at the reception before the performance said they expected "The Serpent Woman" to be unusual, but basically similar in style to past dramas. "I only heard that it was odd, but that's in keeping with the ART," ART patron Diane Jellis said.

Michael Rukin, a member of the company's advisory board, said he "only heard about the wonderful sets" created by world-renowned designer Setsu Asakura. He said he expected the sets to establish a "wonderful world of fantasy which captures the children in all of us."

Composer Elliot Goldenthal said the music he wrote for the play was "like going to an amusement park--like being frightened and delighted as well--you never know what to expect." This mood reflects the movement of the play, he said.

The ART has aquired a reputation for unusual productions in its 10 years at Harvard. Alvin Epstein, who has directed and acted in ART productions in the past, said that although the company has changed over time according to theatrical trends, it has always produced "a pretty eclectic bunch of plays." He described the ART as "innovative and always in the forefront."

Epstein also said that in the past 10 years the ART has moved toward producing more unknown and firstrun works.

The ART is gaining a reputation as one of the best theaters in Boston because of the work of Artistic Director Robert Brustein, said George Gross, a friend of the company and self-claimed theater afficionado. In general Brustein puts on a few classic works but mostly different types of drama, he said.

Brustein has also been able to draw well-known celebrities to the theater. Simon and Wallace both said they knew Brustein from Martha's Vineyard. "I beat him at tennis all summer long," said Wallace. And Simon said she met him when she was a child, darting between grownups' legs at a cocktail party.

Neither is a regular patron of the company, though Wallace said he saw Brustein's work at Yale "so I know what to expect at Harvard."