Sheffield Telegraph, 12 April 2002,

Branagh Takes his final Bow

Kenneth Branagh took his final bow at the crucible on Wednesday at the end of his four week run as Richard III - and a stay in Sheffield Spanning three months.

The daily Queue outside the theatre for the handful of returns had begun at 5am among enthusiasts determined to grab one last chance of seeing the must-see show.

The Shakespearean production directed by Michael Grandage has brought a buzz to the city with extensive media coverage and visiting celebrities in the audience such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Ben Elton and Kathy Burke - even an unconfirmed sighting of Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis.

The production sold more than 27,000 seats, making it the biggest selling drama of all time on the Crucible stage (some Christmas shows which enjoyed longer runs can claim a bigger total) and certainly the fastest selling production in the theatre's 30 year history.

Bookings were taken from the United States, South Africa, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Ireland and all parts of Britain. The largest over-seas contingent came from the US thanks to the Ken-Friends list, an e-mail discussion group "dedicated to any and all things Branagh" which organised a block booking. During one weekend 250 members from around the world, but mostly Americans, descended on Sheffield.

"It's been a very happy show and Ken has enjoyed his stay", said Sheffield Theatres marketing manager Stella McCabe. While Branagh has left to resume filming commitments as dashing, golden haired teacher Gilderoy Lockhart in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', the Crucible clears the decks for it's other great money-spinning entertainment, the World Snooker Championships.

Photo: a Lamb's tale of Shakespeare... Kenneth Branagh shares centre stage with one of the new born lambs at Whirlow

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