The Yale Repertory Theatre knows who’ll be screaming “Stella” on its stage in September.
Joe Manganiello—werewolf Alcide Herveaux from the toothy romance HBO True Blood—will be Stanley in Mark Rucker’s production of the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire at the Rep Sept. 20 through Oct. 12. That casting coup has been reported by the Hollywood press for the last week or so.
Blanche will be 1996 Yale School of Drama grad René Augesen. She’s worked with Rucker (who graduated from YSD himself in the early ’92) several times, including a production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit last year at the California Shakespeare Theater. Augesen’s home base has been the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she was a core acting company member for over a decade and where Rucker serves as Associate Artistic Director. (ACT is the theater which premiered the new musical Stuck Elevator, which is coming to New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas later this month.) Augesen’s ACT collaborations with Rucker have ranged from the melodrama The Rainmaker to the George S. Kaufman comedy Once in a Lifetime. (Rucker did a brilliant production of another Kaufman work, Stage Door, as his YSD directing thesis project 21 years ago.)
As for Joe Manganiello, it’s noteworthy that he’s done Streetcar before, at the West Virginia Public Theatre. He’s also worked with maverick director Trip Cullman, whom longtime New Haven theatergoers will recall did A Streetcar Named Desire as his thesis project at the Yale School of Drama in 2002. The Yale Rep press release is saying that this is the theater’s “first-ever production” of the play, which is true enough, but Cullman’s student production was indeed staged in the Rep space.
Streetcar has a massive connection to New Haven. The landmark first production of the play, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, had its pre-Broadway try-out at New Haven’s Shubert Theater in 1947. In 1998, Michael Wilson began his reign as Artistic Director of Hartford Stage by announcing a multi-year Tennessee Williams marathon and making Streetcar his inaugural production at the theater.
Mark Rucker’s directed a Tennessee Williams show at Yale before—The Kingdom of Earth (aka Seven Descents of Myrtle), which was the first Yale Rep production to grace what is now known as the Iseman Theater at 1156 Chapel Street.
I’m speculating that, despite its smoldering male star and a Blanche with excellent classical theater training and experience, Rucker will be sure to find whatever humor and modern panache is in the play (which can be a considerable amount). Now we know the two leads, can’t wait to hear about do-stars and designers.
(Edit note: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that René Augesen graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1993. It was in fact her sister Roxanne who graduated that year. René is YSD class of ’96. Sorry about that.)