Kelsey Grammer, star of the long-running sitcom "Frasier," will play the title role in a new production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Playbill On-Line has learned. As first reported here on March 15, the limited-run production, which is scheduled around Grammer's television commitments, will run roughly from May to August, with a Boston stop preceding a Broadway engagement, a spokesman at Grammer's talent agency told PBOL (March 15).
"He's always been interested in doing some Shakespeare," said the spokesman when asked about the unusual assignment for the man known to millions as the snobbish, fussy, epicurean psychiatrist Frasier Crane.
Terry Hands has been mentioned as director. No other casting has been announced, including that of Lady Macbeth. A spokesman for Bebe Neuwirth -- who plays Frasier's television wife, Lilith Sternum, and is currently featured on Broadway as Velma Kelly in Chicago -- said he had no knowledge of the actress being considered for the role.
Macbeth was last produced in New York 1999 by Theatre For a New Audience. That staging featured Bill Camp as Macbeth and Elizabeth Marvel as his wife. Several season prior, Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett played the leads in a Public Theater mounting. The tragic tale of a Scottish general whose overreaching, murderous ambition earns him first the throne and then a bloody end, "The Scottish Play" (as superstitious actors call it) is famously thought to be cursed and has a checkered production history. Two warring 1840s New York productions of Macbeth, starring American Edwin Forrest and Britisher William Macready, resulted in the infamous Astor Place Riot in which dozens lost their lives.
Grammer's career over the past two decades has been mostly in television, first in "Cheers," then its spin-off, "Frasier." In March of 1999, however, he participated in an L.A. Concert production of Sweeney Todd. The Reprise! presentation also featured Christine Baranski, Davis Gaines, Dale Kristien and Melissa Manchester. Emanuel Azenberg and SFX Theatrical will produce Macbeth. The Eugene O'Neill Theatre has been mentioned for the show.