Marsha Mason's knack for comedy leaped to the fore when she first walked on a Broadway stage in Neil Simon's "The Good Doctor." During the years since, she has received four Academy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in "Cinderella Liberty," "The Goodbye Girl," "Promises in the Dark" and "Chapter Two." She is currently starring in Shakespeare Theatre Company's "All's Well That Ends Well" and reprising her role as the Countess of Roussillon.

"It's a great gift to do a role a second time, especially when there is ample time between the productions," she said. "I look forward to being reunited with the same principal cast and Michael Kahn, who directed it two seasons ago and did such a marvelous job of cutting to make the story more available to the audience.

"Michael worked a lot on humor and utilizing Shakespeare's conventions of mistaken identities and general confusion. This production will be directed by Jenny Lord, the assistant director. It's always exciting to be exposed to new ideas. The World War I setting brings the story forward and gives a contemporary feel that the audience will understand because it's more relevant," she said.

Mason was speaking from New York, where she was in her director mode. It was the morning after the first reading of a new play that will once again team her with Tony Fingleton, the Australian Olympic swimmer turned screenwriter and producer, who wrote "Drop Dead Fred." With this and other East Coast opportunities beckoning, she would like to downsize and simplify her life by selling her magnificent home and organic farm in New Mexico.

'All's Well That Ends Well'
» Where: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW
» When: Through Sept. 5
» Info: Shakespeare Theatre Compant Free For All ticket lottery instructions at

"I never intended to become a farmer until I visited that amazing country," she said. "My friend Shirley MacLaine had a big property behind mine and knew there was a vortex of energy in New Mexico. A Chinese doctor in L.A. said I should grow medicinal herbs. I heard that a woman in Arizona was growing chamomile and having a huge success, so one thing led to another. I've always been a strong advocate of alternative medicines and organic herbs, and I love making compost. It's turning human garbage into gold.

"Although I love the farm, I'm eager to get back East and become involved in theater and the upcoming election. We have far too much corruption and greed in the financial area. But first, I look forward to returning to STC, revisiting some of Washington's museums and finding time to take in the local theater scene. It's such a great theater town, I'd like to work there more often."