The five-month post-Broadway tour of Barrymore starring Christopher Plummer rings down the curtain Nov. 17-22 at the Shubert Performing Arts Center (Shubert Theatre) in New Haven, CT, but London may be waiting in the wings.
Plummer, who won an 1997 Best Actor Tony Award playing the dissipated John Barrymore, told The Toronto Sun that after a year's vacation from theatre, he would like to take the show to London.
"I may do it a year from now, in London," Plummer told The Sun's John Coulbourn in an interview published Nov. 9. Plummer told The Sun there was interest in the West End. He added that he would take a year off from theatre after the Barrymore tour ends Nov. 22 in Connecticut.
That means a London staging of the William Luce-scripted Barrymore wouldn't happen until late 1999, at the earliest. A spokesperson for producer Livent had no knowledge Nov. 9 about any 1999-2000 trip across the Atlantic for Barrymore, but guessed if Plummer wanted London, Plummer would get London.
The show visits Livent's Toronto venue, the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Nov. 10-15. For Ford Center ticket information, call (416) 345-8992. The tour will end its run Nov. 17-22 at the Shubert Performing Arts Center, Shubert Theatre, in New Haven, CT. For Shubert information, call (800) 228-6622.
Since July, Plummer has traveled several North American cities in Luce's play. Plummer won awards and raves for his frisky, pained, extravagant portrayal of the onetime matinee idol. He shares the stage with a prompter character (who is actually in the wings), played by John Plumpis.
Plummer won a 1997 Best Actor Tony Award as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for the performance.
Gene Saks directed the Broadway staging and the tour, as well as the initial 1996 production co-produced by Livent and the Stratford Festival, Plummer's onetime repertory home in Ontario.
The Broadway Barrymore run ended Nov. 2, 1997 after eight months (12 previews and 240 regular performances) at the Music Box Theatre.
In the two-character Luce play, it is 1942 and the one-great actor struggles to recreate his triumphant performance as King Richard III. Though ravaged by time and alcohol, he has lost neither his zest for life nor his passion for his art.
On tour, Plumpis plays the unseen, off-stage prompter (named "Frank") who helps Barrymore recall his lines. The role was played on Broadway by Michael Mastro.
The production toured the U.S. after premiering to mixed-to-positive reviews at Stratford Festival's Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, in September 1996.
Luce is the author of another fact-based tour de-force, The Belle of Amherst, about Emily Dickinson. He has also been penned one-person shows about Lillian Hellman, Charlotte Bronte, Isak Dinesen and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Plummer appeared on Broadway in Beckett, The Lark, Othello and Macbeth and has won three Drama Desk, two Outer Critics Circles, a Theatre World, a London Evening Standard, and two Tony Awards. He's perhaps best known for playing Captain Von Trapp in the film of the musical The Sound of Music. His widely varied career includes singing the lead in a musical Cyrano on Broadway, supplying the mellifluous voice of the rhyming narrator in the Madeline children's videos, and portraying a Shakespeare-spouting Klingon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He is so far the last actor to play Macbeth on Broadway.
Barrymore is the third of three views of troubled actor John Barrymore that Broadway has seen recently: Nicol Williamson played the same character in Jack: A Night on the Town With John Barrymore, which had a brief run in spring 1996 at the Belasco Theatre, and Barrymore's ghost figured prominently in the early 1990s comedy, I Hate Hamlet.