"Told in speeches, letters, writings from chronicles, plays and in the monarchs' own words — and drawing on such diverse sources as the writings of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, to the letters and journals of the monarchs themselves — The Hollow Crown illuminates the human face of British royalty from William the Conqueror to the young Queen Victoria," according to the announcement.
The cast of Redgrave, Richardson and Sinden, giants in British and world theatre, have been assembled exclusively for Toronto. Howard is lesser-known in North America, though fans of The Lord of the Rings know he's the "voice of the ring" in the hit movies.
Toronto impresarios Ed and David Mirvish present the staging.
The much-revived work is one of the Royal Shakespeare Company's most popular productions. The Hollow Crown was devised and directed by John Barton in 1961 as a celebratory entertainment by and about Kings and Queens of England. It was intended as a mere diversion, but exploded in popularity and has rarely been out of the RSC repertoire since.
Over 70 actors have performed it over the years, internationally. In Canada, the RSC brought it to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1963 as part of the inaugural year of the Mirvish family's acquisition and restoration of the theatre.
The Hollow Crown derives its title and its theme from a passage in Shakespeare's Richard II: "For God's sake let us sit upon the ground/And tell sad stories of the death of kings; For within the hollow crown/That rounds the mortal temples of a king/Keeps Death his court; and there the antic sits,/Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp."
Oscar and Tony Award-winner Redgrave recently completed a Broadway run of Long Day's Journey Into Night, Richardson is perhaps best known in North America for his starring role in the TV series "House of Cards" and "To Play the King," and was Henry Higgins in the 20th anniversary revival of My Fair Lady on Broadway, Sinden starred in TV's "Two's Company," and many stage productions including Othello and King Lear in the West End.
Alan Howard (who provides the voice of the "ring" in The Lord of the Rings pictures) made his stage debut in Major Barbara at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, in 1958. In 1966, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, with which he then performed in over 30 productions, including Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1970), and later played many roles with the Royal National Theatre.
John Barton, who directs his own creation, has written and adapted many works for theatre, notably the highly acclaimed The War of the Roses, with Peter Hall (1963), The Greeks (1980), Morte D'Arthur (1983), and Tantalus (2000). He has been the subject of the inspirational nine-part television series, "Playing Shakespeare."
Performances play Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM; matinees Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets range $26-$75 (Canadian).
Princess of Wales Theatre is at 300 King Street West, Toronto.
For more information, call TicketKing at (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333, or visit www.mirvish.com.