(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – PeopleMagazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” will transform himself into the hideously deformed title character of The Elephant Man when Bradley Cooper, star of Hollywood comedies includingThe Hangover and Wedding Crashers, tackles the dramatic role of John Merrick at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, in a production also starring indie film queen Patricia Clarkson. The play, written by Bernard Pomerance and directed by Scott Ellis, runs from Wednesday, July 25, 2012, through August 5, 2012.

Also in the cast are Tony Award-winner Shuler Hensley (Oklahoma!, Young Frankenstein) as Ross/Bishop How/Snork, Scott Lowell (Queer as Folk) as Will/Lord John/Earl, Alessandro Nivola (WTF’s As You Like It, Coco Before Chanel) as Frederick Treves, Marguerite Stimpson (Butley) as Sandwich/Countess/Alexandra, and Henry Stram (WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Carr Gomm/Conductor.

From a desperate existence in a Victorian freak show to his days as the toast of London high society, the life of John Merrick, the Elephant Man, has fascinated the world for well over a century. Though his disfigurement brought notoriety, it was his unblemished inner humanity that most astonished those around him, compelling examinations of their own prejudices and beliefs. Shattering our illusions of normalcy, The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance weaves Merrick’s tale into a parable on beauty, innocence, and human dignity.

A perennial favorite, The Elephant Man has been widely produced on stage and on the large and small screen. Actor Philip Anglim created the role of John Merrick at the National Theatre in London before tackling it in New York; subsequent actors including Mark Hamill and rock star David Bowie in a stunning performance. The 1980 film version was stylistically directed by David Lynch and starred John Hurt. Interestingly, the 1982 TV film version starring Anglim featured a script adapted from the Pomerance play by none other than longtime WTF associate Steve Lawson.