Kenneth Branagh to Bring ‘Macbeth’ to New York

Excerpted from Variety, 20 August 2013
By Gordon Cox

Call it a hat-trick of Scottish plays: The Kenneth Branagh-toplined staging of “Macbeth,” which bowed in a much-lauded U.K. run earlier this summer, will make the move to New York next year, locking in a run at the Park Avenue Armory that makes it the third high-profile Gotham staging of the Shakespeare tragedy within a window of about 18 months.

Co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford — helmer of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway — “Macbeth” was already looking like a solid bet for a New York transfer in the wake of the strong response to its preem as part of the Manchester Intl. Festival. Co-star Alex Kingston (“E.R.”) also will return for the Stateside run, reprising her role as Lady Macbeth opposite Branagh in the title role.

Although Broadway might seem a more expected destination for Branagh, this cinematic take on “Macbeth” nonetheless had looked like a natural fit for the wide expanse of the Park Avenue Armory and the flexibility of its non-proscenium space, since the production was originally staged in a 300-seat deconsecrated church in Manchester. Besides that, Alex Poots, the a.d. of the Intl. Fest, recently took on the additional post of a.d. at the Armory.

“Macbeth” faces the specter of Scottish play fatigue as the third production of the play to hit New York following the Alan Cumming topliner that played Broadway in the spring and the Ethan Hawke starrer that opens at Lincoln Center in the fall. But the production could still stir plenty of enthusiasm among playgoers with the New York stage debut of Branagh, who first shot to fame for his work in film adaptions of Bard plays.

The recent spate of “Macbeth” revivals isn’t just limited to the U.S. In London earlier this year, there was a West End production toplined by James McAvoy and another at Shakespeare’s Globe helmed by Eve Best, in addition to the Branagh staging.

With “Macbeth” programmed for June 2014 at the Armory, exact dates and full casting remain to be set.

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