WILLIAMSTOWN -- After a 12-year absence from the Williamstown Theatre Festival -- save for an appearance in 2004 for its 50th Jubilee and a single afternoon play reading last summer -- actress Blythe Danner will return for the Nikos Stage's opening production, "The Blue Deep."
"I love being back," she said during an interview Tuesday at the Williams Inn. "I've been here, but it hasn't been real until I walked up the staircase to the Nikos Stage, which used to be the Main Stage. It was sort of as if my whole life flashed before my eyes.
"We spent all of our summers here. I could see my children at different ages. I could see my husband in his tennis outfit heading off or on the Broad Brook Trail. Every corner holds a memory for me. We had a rich life here. It's bittersweet, but I'm awfully glad to be back."
Danner, who became a mainstay of the festival, appeared annually from 1974 to 1986 and appeared in seven shows during the following decade. She last appeared at the festival in 2000 in "Tonight at 8:30."
She was drawn back to the festival last year by "The Blue Deep," a play written by Lucy Boyle, the daughter of close friends Peter and Loraine Boyle, which was produced as a staged reading as part of its "Fridays@3" series.
"It's so deep and insightful. After I read it, I just wanted to do it," Danner said.
The play centers around the thorny relationship of a mother and daughter, following the
Director Bob Balaban also came to read the play because of his friendship with the Boyles.
"I've known Lucy since she was five years old," he said Tuesday, noting that it was her talent as a writer that made him want to stage the play.
"When I read it, I had a very strong, favorable impression. Over the course of a year or two, Lucy did a little rewriting and I did three readings. The first two were not with Blythe and then we did one with her. Then we came here and did another reading. It kept growing on me. We decided to do it [here] and I thought that was great because I didn't yet know what it was."
That feeling washed away upon arriving in Williamstown, when Balaban said he suddenly saw new life in the play -- a magic moment happened when the intuited meaning of Boyle's words became real and powerful -- a blend of heartache, honesty and comedy came together to share a story of loss and growth.
Tickets for "The Blue Deep," playing on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival from Thursday, June 28 to July 8, can be purchased online at www.wtfestival.org, by phone at 413-597-3400 or in person at the box office.