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Originally published Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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"Merchant of Venice" set in '29 crash

The Seattle Shakespeare Company updates "The Merchant of Venice" to the era of the stock-market crash of 1929, in a production directed by L.A. theater director John Langs and starring his wife, television actress Klea Scott. The play will be at Center House Theatre at Seattle Center through April 5.

"The Merchant of Venice"

Though based in L.A., John Langs is a leading Seattle director. (His raved-about 2008 version of "The Adding Machine" provides plenty of evidence of that.)

And for his gig mounting "The Merchant of Venice" for Seattle Shakespeare Company, updated in timely fashion to the era of the 1929 stock-market crash, Langs brought along wife Klea Scott, who plays Portia.

Langs and Scott met in the 1990s as students at the North Carolina School of the Arts. This is their first Shakespeare outing together, but both have classical chops — though most recently, Scott spent two years starring in "Intelligence," a riveting Canadian TV drama series about domestic espionage.

"I've wanted to work in Seattle, and this was a way we could be together, after spending so much time apart," Scott noted in a recent interview. Added Langs: "Part of my secret agenda was to get Klea up here to meet some of the Seattle theater artists I love."

So why not stay? "If I could wave a magic wand, and there was an artistic job in Seattle I'd be right for," he said with a laugh. "I'd love for us to live here."

After previews starting tonight, "The Merchant of Venice" opens Friday and plays Thursdays-Sundays through April 5 at Center House Theatre, Seattle Center; $22-$36 (206-733-8222 or www.seattleshakespeare.org).

Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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