Roundabout Theatre Company kicked off its 2018-2019 Broadway season with the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck's new play Bernhardt/Hamlet, directed by Tony Award nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel.
Which celebrities of our present time will be remembered 100 years into the future? Thanks to the evergrowing advances in technology, constantly archiving the works of some of the current greats, the answer to that question is: probably a lot of them. Things, of course, were different 100 years ago and yet an acclaimed French actress and darling of the stage has managed to stand the test of time and find herself as the subject of this brand new Broadway play. We're talking about the stage legend that is Sarah Bernhardt, who, despite the lack of a Twitter or Instagram account, became an international icon. As controversial off the stage as she was adored on it, this woman (a trailblaizer long before the #TimesUp movement) is an intriguing personality to explore in any medium, but most fitting, of course, for the theatre - her natural habitat. And what better story to tell than the greatest living actress, defying the constrictions of her time and taking on one of the best male roles ever written in Shakespeare's Hamlet?
"No one upstages me!" Bernhardt cries in a tone which leaves her colleagues unsure of whether she is teasing or being deadly serious... and that potentially could have been one of the main pitfalls facing playwright Theresa Rebeck and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Who on earth would be able to play this legendary figure and at least match her mercurial star quality, as upstaging her is understandably out of the question? Enter Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe, Tony & Olivier Award winner Janet McTeer.
This veteran of stage and screen is surely as captivating today as Bernhardt was in her time. Her voice is as sultry and soft as it is commanding and she breathes life into every nuance of her performance as we learn more and more about the multifaceted personality of Bernhardt. She longs for deeper meaning beneath Shakespeare's poetry. She burns with a passion for playwright Edmond Rostand, a married man, who also wrote Cyrano de Bergerac, but takes just as much pleasure intellectually sparring with him. She is frivolous with spending and yet longs to reverse the fortunes of her financial situation. She is a mother. She is a leader. She is a symbol. She is one of a kind and a gift for the most accomplished of actresses to portray.
Discover for yourselves the masterclass of craftsmanship displayed by Janet McTeer as she, in turn, shines the spotlight once again on the eternal craftsmanship of Sarah Bernhardt.
To be, or not to be missed... We think the latter!
(Photos by Joan Marcus)
August 31st, 2018
November 18th, 2018
Mark Twain wrote: “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses. And then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” In 1899, the international stage celebrity set out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet. Presented by Roundabout Theatre Company, Theresa Rebeck’s new play rollicks with high comedy and human drama, set against the lavish Shakespearean production that could make or break Bernhardt’s career. Janet McTeer, “one of the finest classical actresses of her generation” (The Telegraph), brings the legendary leading lady to life. Directed by Mortiz von Stuelpnagel ("Present Laughter," "Hand to God").
Photos by Joan Marcus.
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