The first production of the 2000-2001 Broadway season didn't last long. After opening to mixed to negative reviews, the new mounting of Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring Kelsey Grammer and Diane Venora, will close on June 25 at 8 previews and 13 performances. Macbeth began previews on June 9 and opened June 15 at the Music Box Theatre. It was to have run 60 performances to July 30.
Macbeth began its out-of-town, Boston run at the Colonial Theatre May 18 and played there through June 4. The rumor mill briefly had the show closing in Boston, but the production eventually soldiered on to New York.
Grammer, speaking backstage at the Tony Awards ceremony, discussed his upcoming turn as the Thane of Glamis for the first time since opening in the play in Boston. Asked why he chose to return to the stage in The Scottish Play, he said, "Well, I did it 20 years ago, and I've always wanted to do it again. When I did it, I was 25, I was too green. It's been on my mind to do it again for some years now."
Asked whether he was afraid of the New York theatre critics' judgement, he said, "Of course I am. I think I'm presented quite the biggest target the New York theatre has seen in some time." The tragedy, directed by Terry Hands, also featured Michael Gross as Ross, Stephen Markle as Banquo, Kate Forbes as Lady Macduff, Peter Gerety as Seyton, Peter Michael Goetz as Duncan, Bruce A. Young as Macduff, John Ahlin and Mark Mineart as the two Murderers, Ty Burrell as Lennox, Austin Lysy as Donalbain, Sam Breslin Wright as Malcolm, Jacob Pitts as Fleance and Starla Benford, Kelly Hutchinson and Myra Lucretia Taylor as the three Witches.
The design team includes Timothy O'Brien (sets and costumes), Terry Hands (lighting) and Tom Morse (sound). Hands also directs.
Grammer's career over the past two decades has been mostly in television, first in "Cheers," then its spin-off, "Frasier." Recently, in March of 1999, 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. Grammer was trained at Juilliard.
Venora recently played Gertrude in the Public Theater mounting of Hamlet starring Liev Schreiber, though few theatregoers saw her performance. Shortly into the run, she was felled by a bronchial ailment. Thereafter, she seldom joined the cast.
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 (both are currently in Lydie Breeze at New York Theatre Workshop). 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.