All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Monday, April 25, 2022

It’s time for the Royal Shakespeare Company to be led by an actor | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Gregory Doran has achieved much at the RSC and directed some fine productions. Let’s have an actor in charge next: how about Adjoa Andoh or Simon Russell Beale? When the boss of a big thea…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:18AM
Thursday, April 14, 2022

Sad! Is Donald Trump just too boring for a grand Shakespearean makeover? by Michael Billington

Bertie Carvel is brilliant in The 47th, Mike Bartlett’s ingenious play about the former US president, but the real parallel is not with the Bard’s kings but his hollow braggarts If you w…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:12AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Homecoming: Pinter’s male fantasists return in the age of #MeToo by Michael Billington

Criticised for moral ambiguity on its premiere, the 1965 drama – about a woman in a masculine world of aggression and pretence – is back to provoke and disturb Call a play a “modern cl…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:54PM
Monday, March 14, 2022

‘Experience Shakespeare by seeing it – even better, be in it’: inside the RSC’s new epic by Michael Billington

Owen Horsley’s new production of Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3, uses a cast of 120, including professionals and community participants, with some of them filming the action on stage I discovered…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:18AM
Friday, March 11, 2022

I Don’t Think We’ve Met celebrates a golden age of cricketing chivalry | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Ian Smith’s moving tribute to the late Colin Cowdrey is a gentle reminder of the abiding link between the stumps and the stage Cricket and theatre have long been intimate bedfellows. Strol…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:12PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Macbeth movies have been foul and fair – Joel Coen’s is a stunner by Michael Billington

The Tragedy of Macbeth follows in the footsteps of Orson Welles’s 1948 film, which showed how imagination can turn Shakespeare’s text into more than a costume epic With Joel Coen’s The…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:12AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Britain’s indifference to Molière’s 400th is no surprise but it’s still shameful | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Despite some clever reimaginings of Tartuffe, UK stages remain depressingly inattentive to one of the greatest playwrights In France the 400th anniversary of Molière’s birth is being cele…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:54AM
Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Never mind the nose: what makes Cyrano de Bergerac a hero for all time? by Michael Billington

Edmond Rostand’s great romantic has drawn actors including Ralph Richardson, Antony Sher and James McAvoy to its lead role. It is a tale of glorious theatricality, glittering poetry and he…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:12AM
Thursday, January 6, 2022

Bill Bryden: supremely gifted director who harnessed the ensemble’s power by Michael Billington

The Scottish theatre-maker, who has died aged 79, brought us an epic 12-hour production of the Mysteries and the world premiere of Glengarry Glen Ross Bill Bryden, who has died aged 79, was …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:48PM
Thursday, December 30, 2021

Julian Fellowes turns Half a Sixpence rewrite Kipps into winning fun by Michael Billington

In a surprisingly class-conscious stage adaptation of the HG Wells-inspired musical from the Downton Abbey creator on Sky, Charlie Stemp radiates kindly innocence What’s in a name? Quite a…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:18PM
Monday, December 13, 2021

Cameron Mackintosh: ‘the public appreciates theatre more’ since Covid by Michael Billington

The super-producer, celebrating his 75th birthday with a retrospective on TV, talks about the pandemic’s effect on commercial theatre – and his fury with government Cameron Mackintosh wi…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:48PM
Friday, December 3, 2021

The Treaty shows history in the making – and proves the power of political theatre by Michael Billington

Colin Murphy’s remarkable play takes us behind closed doors as high-stakes negotiations for Irish independence take place ‘I wanna be in the room where it happens,” sings Aaron Burr in…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:06PM

Antony Sher: a consummate Shakespearean and a man of staggering versatility by Michael Billington

One of the most gifted actors of his era, Sher – who has died aged 72 – combined psychology and a keen sense of the visual in soul-baring performances Antony Sher, who has died at the ag…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:54AM
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sheffield’s Crucible: the revolutionary theatre that was almost snookered by Michael Billington

Half a century ago, Colin George faced down the doom-mongers and campaigners to bring the city a radical alternative to proscenium theatre: the open, thrust stage Entering Sheffield’s Cruc…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:48AM
Monday, November 29, 2021

Where to start with Stephen Sondheim: 10 of the best from the maestro by Michael Billington

Discover the musical theatre titan through the life-changing cast album of Company, Imelda Staunton’s phenomenal turn in Gypsy, birthday concerts and his essential book on lyric writing So…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:24PM
Friday, November 5, 2021

Lionel Blair: a showbiz phenomenon with all the right moves by Michael Billington

He gained household fame on Give Us a Clue but the all-round entertainer was a world-class hoofer who could hold his own alongside Sammy Davis Jr Lionel Blair, who has died aged 92, was that…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:42PM
Thursday, November 4, 2021

‘He understood our national psyche’: Terence Rattigan deserves a proper memorial by Michael Billington

His complex, ambivalent plays are regularly revived – and now a campaign aims to improve the playwright’s resting place in a London cemetery What is the best tribute to a dead playwright…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:32AM
Saturday, October 9, 2021

Top 10 books about theatre | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

From Anne Enright’s novel about an actor’s daughter to the diaries of former National Theatre director Peter Hall, the theatre critic chooses his favourite titles about the stage Theatre…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:06AM
Monday, October 4, 2021

Age of Antigone: Sophocles’s arresting tale of the debt we owe the dead by Michael Billington

With three new versions on stage this month, the ancient Greek classic – and its reflections on authority and devotion – remains as compelling as ever This October sees a rash of product…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:24AM
Friday, September 24, 2021

Roger Michell: a superb director who brought the unexpected out of actors by Michael Billington

The much-loved Michell was renowned for a lack of ego and his understanding of the fine art of collaboration Roger Michell, who has died aged 65, had two great qualities as a theatre directo…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:54AM
Tuesday, July 13, 2021

I’ve been cast as a bitchy theatre critic – it’s a role I couldn’t turn down | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Starring in a Zoom production of the play Masks and Faces tested my acting skills – not to mention my singing About six weeks ago a small bombshell landed in my inbox. Headed “A Job Offe…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:03AM
Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Rodgers and Hammerstein: cosy box-office bankers or radical trailblazers? by Michael Billington

The duo’s shows boast catchy songs but pose problems for directors. As South Pacific and Carousel return this summer, our writer looks back on enchanted evenings with the odd couple’s mu…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:12PM
Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Can opera singers act – or do they just wave their arms around like traffic cops? by Michael Billington

A new production of King Lear, drawn from the world of opera, aims to put paid to the notion that great singers make second-rate actors. We speak to its stars I had coffee recently with King…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:12PM
Monday, June 14, 2021

Bard day’s work: what I learned from eavesdropping on RSC rehearsals by Michael Billington

The Royal Shakespeare Company is letting the public watch the usually secret processes towards performance – from clapping games to verse sessions The creative process normally takes place…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:42AM
Monday, April 19, 2021

‘Olivier was jealous of me’: TV drama pioneer Derek Granger at 100 by Michael Billington

On his centenary, the veteran producer recalls adding punch to Coronation Street, bringing Brideshead to the screen and his ‘turbulent’ relationship with one of the acting world’s grea…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:54AM
Friday, March 19, 2021

The RSC at 60: the glorious past and vital future of a theatrical revolution by Michael Billington

The Royal Shakespeare Company survived establishment resistance and economic storms to become a powerhouse. How should it now change? What’s in a name? Quite a lot, as it happens. In 1960 …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:12PM
Sunday, March 7, 2021

Alan Curtis obituary by Michael Billington

There has always been a strong affinity between acting and cricket, and my friend Alan Curtis, who has died aged 90, was a perfect example of that. He combined a long theatrical career with …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:06PM
Friday, February 26, 2021

Ronald Pickup: a theatrical great from a golden generation by Michael Billington

The actor, who has died aged 80, had a thriving screen career but was also a terrific stage star and an essential member of Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre company Ronald Pickup, who h…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:18AM
Monday, February 15, 2021

Claire Bloom at 90: a phenomenal actor with poise, spirit and steel by Michael Billington

The star’s long career, from her stage debut at 15 to her film, TV and literary success, reveals a shrewd talent who has risen to many a challenge Acting must be the best rejuvenation pill…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:18AM
Monday, February 1, 2021

Oh what a lovely archive: British Library gets Joan Littlewood treasure trove by Michael Billington

Theatre Royal Stratford East’s colourful history is documented in more than 100 boxes of material collected by actor Murray Melvin It is cheering to learn that the Murray Melvin Archive, d…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:03PM
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Robot wars: 100 years on, it's time to reboot Karel Čapek's RUR by Michael Billington

The play Rossum’s Universal Robots clearly belongs to the 1920s but its satirical take on the meeting of humans and machines is all too relevant today Not many plays introduce a new word t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:12AM