FYI: that high-pitched shriek of delight you heard last week was my reaction to the news that Sir Kenneth Branagh (Shakespeare interpreter extraordinaire - see his incredible performances in Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Othello) will be making his New York stage debut in Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory next summer. I cannot possibly overstate how excited I am about this. Seeing Branagh perform live in a Shakespeare play is something that's been on my Bucket List for ages (I even gave a character in my novel, Blame It On the Fame, a backstory of wanting to become an actress after seeing Branagh on stage in Hamlet.) I love Shakespeare's plays and have done so since I first read Macbeth in my sophomore English class. To this day, that play remains my favorite of his tragedies and I can recite the entire "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace . . ." monologue verbatim. I have no doubt that Sir Kenneth will make a sublime Macbeth and I have my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that I will be able to get tickets for this show. Pray for me, people! I should, also, mention that the wonderful Alex Kingston (River Song!) will be playing opposite Kenneth in this production. She's an acting powerhouse, so I'm sure that they will make a memorable pair on stage.
Apparently, Macbeth is hot right now because it was, also, announced last week that there's a new, big-screen version coming our way and wait for it . . . one of my favorite actors, Michael Fassbender, will be playing the lead role! SQUEE Michael is such an amazing talent and he's so charismatic and intense, I have no doubt that he will be mesmerizing as the murderous Scottish king. I'm already predicting an Oscar nomination (It goes without saying that Branagh will be winning a Tony for his Macbeth.) Fassy's Lady Macbeth will be the lovely Marion Cotillard (She's replacing Natalie Portman, which I think is a good thing. Lady M is such a steely and formidable character. I just can't imagine dainty, sweet-voiced Nat pulling that off.) This movie will start shooting in the UK in January, so I'll have to keep an eye out for pix and tidbits from the set. Hope we get to see King Fassy with his ginger beard!
Moving on to another British actor who recently made his Broadway debut in a Shakespeare play . . . the always-dreamy Orlando Bloom hit the boards, along with multi-Tony nominee Condola Rashad (Yes, she's the real-life daughter of Claire Huxtable!) in Romeo & Juliet at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The show is still in previews, so no reviews yet. But judging by the great chemistry between Condola and Orlando on Good Morning America last week, I'd say that they should have no trouble selling a story of star-crossed love. If I were going to be in NYC this fall, this is definitely the show I'd want to see! R&J is a limited engagement and will end its run on Nov. 24th. Hopefully, this won't be the last time we see Mr. Bloom on The Great White Way.
So, we've talked plays, now let's talk musicals, which I am equally fond of. I've seen The Sound of Music on stage twice, and the film version of the musical is something I watch annually. I had such a crush on Christopher Plummer's Captain Von Trapp when I was a little girl! Must have been the accent. ;) I had no idea that there was a live television version of TSOM in the works until it was announced last week that Stephen Moyer of True Blood fame would be playing Captain Von Trapp opposite Carrie Underwood's Maria. I love this casting! I didn't even know that Stephen could sing, but a little research revealed that he's a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and apparently he killed it when he played Billy Flynn in the Hollywood Bowl's production of Chicago recently (see proof below.) And, of course, we already know that Carrie has an amazing voice, so this production promises to be a terrific one! I look forward to seeing how these performers interpret the iconic roles of Maria and Von Trapp. NBC will be giving us an early Christmas present by airing the new Sound of Music on NBC on Dec. 5th. The live factor should give the production an extra jolt of excitement. Can't wait!
That's it for this week's Banister Buzz. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it! Comments make my day, so please leave yours below. Tell me what your favorite Shakespeare play or movie is. Who do you think will make the better Macbeth - Branagh or Fassy? And what old-school musical would you like to see remade and who would you cast in it? Until next time, my friends. Wishing my fellow Americans a safe and fun holiday weekend!