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Alan Cumming’s Macbeth set to hit Broadway

Alan Cumming in his show Macbeth at the Tramway in Glasgow last year. Picture: Robert Perry

Alan Cumming in his show Macbeth at the Tramway in Glasgow last year. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

THE National Theatre of Scotland is set to take centre stage on Broadway with its first major production there – Alan Cumming’s one-man depiction of Macbeth.

The Perthshire actor will be returning to the scene of his career-defining triumph in Cabaret with the production, which wowed audiences in Glasgow when it had its world premiere last year.

It is expected to be the highest profile ever for a Scottish production on Broadway and is another massive coup for the National Theatre of Scotland, (NTS) which has enjoyed huge success with previous touring productions Black Watch and The Bacchae; the latter also starred Cumming.

The show will be directed by outgoing NTS associate director John Tiffany following the huge success of his production of Once on Broadway, which won eight Tony Awards last year.

It will have a 73-performance run at the famous Ethel Barrymore Theatre, on 42nd Street, from 7 April to 30 June.

The 1,000-capacity venue has previously played host to stars such as Fred Astaire, Dame Judi Dench, Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon.

Although it will be the eighth time NTS has staged a production in New York, this will be the first major production to be staged in one of Broadway’s celebrated theatres.

It is being brought to the stage by independent American producer Ken Davenport, whose previous productions have grossed more than $100 million (£63m) around the world.

NTS is already taking its most successful show, Black Watch, to the US this year, with runs in San Francisco and Seattle planned, along with a return to Glasgow.

The new NTS version of Macbeth, which had its world premiere in Glasgow last year, re-imagines Shakespeare’s classic set in a psychiatric clinic, focusing on a solitary patient channelling the story of Macbeth.

It was one of the hottest tickets in Scottish theatre last year, but also marked a return to Cumming’s roots. He starred in a production of Macbeth at the Tron Theatre in the early 1990s.

When the show was first announced, Cumming said: “I have been obsessed with Macbeth for as long as I can remember. It was the first Shakespeare I ever read, the first I was ever in, and it continues to haunt and inspire me.”

It was one of the last shows conceived by Vicky Featherstone as artistic director of NTS before it emerged she was leaving the post at the end of 2012.

Cumming and Tiffany had worked for the first time on The Bacchae, which had its premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival six years ago, before going on an extensive tour.

Aberfeldy-born Cumming, currently starring in the hit US legal drama The Good Wife, first found fame in the UK as one half of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret act Victor and Barry.

But Cumming’s career took a dramatic upturn after he won a place in the cast of Cabaret on Broadway in 1998, earning him a string of awards. As well as appearing in a host of major movies, Cumming went on to make a string of Broadway appearances.

Neil Murray, executive producer at the NTS: “We are thrilled that a leading New York commercial producer is taking on our acclaimed production of Macbeth, featuring Alan Cumming’s stunning performance.

“We believe that this will be the first time that Shakespeare’s Scottish play will have been performed by a Scottish actor and a Scottish company on Broadway.”

NTS is billing the show, as “a visually stunning multi-media theatrical experience”.

 

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