Two of Britain's finest actors, Olivier Award winners Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale, will be showcased during the spring season of theatre at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City.
Jennings, whose Peer Gynt two seasons back beat out the likes of Michael Gambon and Daniel Massey for Best Actor Olivier honors (and who is currently featured as Lord Mark in the film The Wings of the Dove), will be seen in the title role of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet -- a controversial production directed by wunderkind Matthew Warchus that has a contemporary setting and makes use of unusual visuals including Bergman-esque film projections. The production was seen at Stratford last summer and is currently playing at the Barbican in London. Hamlet will be performed at the BAM Opera House from May 21-30. (In conjunction with these performances, "Shakespeare at BAM" seminars will be held throughout the day on May 30 and 31.)
Beale, who also won an Olivier two seasons ago (for Best Supporting Actor in Volpone), will bring his much-praised Iago to Brooklyn in the Royal National Theatre production of Othello, starring David Harewood (seen last year in New York with Vanessa Redgrave in Antony and Cleopatra) in the title role and Claire Skinner as Desdemona, and staged by another much-in-demand young director, Sam Mendes. Othello will play at the Academy's more intimate performing space, the Majestic Theatre, April 8-12.
London's Cheek by Jowl Theatre will also return to BAM (their As You Like It with Adrian Lester was one of the theatrical highlights of BAM's Next Wave Festival in 1994), this time with a fresh take on Much Ado About Nothing, which will be in residence at the Majestic Theatre Mar. 25-April 5.
In addition, the Moscow Art Theatre will make a rare visit to New York with a new staging of The Three Sisters, directed by the troupe's artistic director, Oleg Efremov. The Chekhov play will be performed in Russian with simultaneous English translation at the Opera House Feb. 6-14. (In addition, there will be a panel discussion with Moscow Art Theatre actors and Robert Brustein Feb. 12.) Other plays to be presented at BAM include three more Royal Shakespeare Company productions: Cymbeline, directed by Adrian Noble (RSC's artistic director) and featuring Joanne Pearce as Imogen, from June 3-6 at the Opera House; Henry VIII, directed by Gregory Doran and featuring Jane Lapotaire as Queen Katherine, from May 26-30 at the Majestic Theatre; and Everyman, co-directed by Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni, with a cast led by Joseph Mydell, from June 2-6 at the Majestic Theatre.
Also on the spring schedule is Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, to be performed and directed by RSC veteran Edward Petherbridge, from May 27-29 at the Majestic Theatre.
In other BAM theatre news, next fall will see a return performance of the equestrian theatre troupe Zingaro in a new production, Eclipse, at the BAM Equestrian Theatre in Manhattan's Battery Park City, Sept. 9-Oct. 4.
For more information or tickets, call (718) 636-4100.
-- By Rebecca Paller