Christopher Plummer's Solo Show A Word or Two, Taking a Page From His Lifelong Love of Books, Opens in Canada
By Kenneth Jones
"Word, words, words." Hamlet loved them, and so does Christopher Plummer. The Oscar and Tony Award-winning octagenarian actor explores a few of his favorite literary things in a new solo show, A Word or Two, opening Aug. 2 following previews from July 25 at the Stratford Festival in Canada. Artistic director and Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, The Who's Tommy) directs the personal play about the actor's love of literature and how books shaped him.
The evening at the festival's Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, touches on A.A. Milne, the Bible, Shaw, Wilde, Coleridge, Marlowe, W.H. Auden, Nabokov, Rostand, MacLeish, Shakespeare, Byron, Nash and Leacock — and more. It is written, arranged and performed by the Academy Award-winning ("Beginners") and Tony Award-winning (Barrymore) actor.
Performances at the proscenium Avon run (in rep) to Aug. 26.
Of the pieces included in a Word or Two, Plummer told Playbill.com, "Some are silly, some great, some funny, some extraordinary, some classical. There's a huge variety of stuff there, and I enjoy myself thoroughly because I love the words of each character. I have fun and try to make it as funny as I can because, when the serious stuff does appear, the audience is sorta ready for it."
Plummer's point? "I suppose the main theme in it — which I don't hit over the head very hard, thank God! — is the fact that, in this day and age, young people in particular are losing the chance to really appreciate what great literature is... Books are disappearing. Parents should take care that they let their children know at a certain young age how wonderful and great our language is and what fun it is.
"My parents were marvelous. I was very lucky — I grew up in a very well-read home — and we were taught the value of books. Our family used to read aloud to each other sometimes after dinner. It was kind of an old Victorian custom, and it was great to be a part of that. They taught me reading could be fun as well as enriching."
McAnuff previously directed Plummer — a longtime veteran of the festival, since its early days — in Stratford's Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Plummer played Julius Caesar, and The Tempest, in which he played Prospero; the stagings were also preserved on film. Barrymore had a pre-Broadway tryout at Stratford, as well.
The artistic team for A Word or Two includes set designer Robert Brill, lighting designer Michael Walton, composer Michael Roth, video designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, sound designer Peter McBoyle and costume consultant Paul Tazewell.
Visit stratfordfestival.ca for more information.
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