Actor Kenneth Branagh was returning to the stage tonight - for the first time
in 10 years. The Belfast-born actor's appearance in the lead role in
Shakespeare's Richard III has prompted an unprecedented demand for tickets at
the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, a spokesman said. Branagh, 41, who was
last seen on stage as Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992, was
being paid the same as all other cast members appearing at the Crucible -
slightly above the Equity minimum rate of £278.50 a week, said a theatre
spokesman. The actor - who has also carved out a career as a film director -
decided to return to the theatre after meeting the Crucible's associate
director Michael Grandage. The sell-out show, which opens tonight, has
already been extended for an extra four days till April 10, and a limited
number of stand-by tickets will be available from the box office each day. A
spokesman for the theatre said: "It has been the fastest-selling show in the
Crucible's 30-year history. We've even got people coming from Japan and
America to see the show." Branagh's interest in the Crucible theatre grew
after he attended a performance there by fellow Hollywood star Joseph
Fiennes, in Marlowe's Edward II, last year. Although he joined the Royal
Shakespeare Company in 1984 at the age of 23, Branagh is probably best known
for his Shakespearean films. After winning Oscar nominations as both Best
Actor and Best Director for Henry V in 1989, he went on to direct big-screen
adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost.
Snooker Venue Sees Branagh on Stage Again
Wednesday 13 March 2002
By Angelique Chrisafis
After 10 years in films, Kenneth Branagh makes his stage comeback tonight - in a part-time Sheffield snooker venue, best known for hosting Steve Davis in the world championships.
Branagh is playing Richard III, Shakespeare's misunderstood villain, at the Sheffield Crucible - a move which reinforces the shift in audience attention from London's West End to the regions. Theatres outside London are yet to see a penny of the promised £12m to help them this year, but many shows are selling out faster than West End productions.
Richard III is the fastest-selling production in the Sheffield theatre's 30-year history. Its run has been extended to take in increased demand from US and Japanese visitors. "We couldn't lengthen the run any more than four days because we had to set up for the snooker in April," a spokesman said.
Branagh follows Joseph Fiennes, who turned down film offers to play Marlowe's Edward II in Sheffield last year. Grahame Morris, Sheffield's chief executive, said: "The real significance of an actor of Branagh's calibre choosing Sheffield for his return to the stage is that it shows that London theatres no longer rule the roost."
Branagh, who is to star in the second Harry Potter film, is believed to have been attracted by the prospect of performing to a younger audience.
Kenneth Branagh Returns to UK Stage as Richard III in 2002
BroadwayOnline.com, 23 August 2001
By Mark Shenton
LONDON -- Kenneth Branagh, internationally known for his work in bringing Shakespeare to the screen with such projects as Henry V (1989, playing the title role), Much Ado About Nothing (1993, playing Benedick), Othello (1995, playing Iago), Hamlet (1996, playing the title role) and Love’s Labours Lost (2000, playing Berowne), four of which he also directed, is to return to the Shakespearean stage.
He will play the title role in Richard III for rising young director Michael Grandage at
the Sheffield Crucible, running March 13, 2002 through April 6. Grandage, who is
artistic director at the Crucible, recently staged a production of Marlowe’s Edward II
with Joseph Fiennes in the title role there, and was also responsible for helming
the highly acclaimed Donmar Warehouse productions of Passion Play and
Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along last year.
Branagh, who last appeared on stage in an RSC Hamlet in 1992, began his career
in the theatre with the original stage production of Another Country, recreating his
performance in the subsequent film.
Branagh to Return as Richard III
The Independent, 5 May 2001
Kenneth Branagh is to return to the stage for the first time since his Hamlet for the RSC nearly 10 years ago. He agreed to take the title role in Richard III next spring after seeing Joseph Fiennes star in Marlowe's Edward II.
Branagh To Play the at Crucible
by Ian Souter, Sheffield Star, 5 May 2001
Another major star of the stage and screen is coming to Sheffield to appear
at the Crucible Theatre.
Britain's top actor-director, Sir Kenneth Branagh is to play
Shakespeare's Richard III next March, exactly a year after the smash-hit
production of Edward II starring Joesph Fiennes.
"In some ways it's an even bigger coup", said Sheffield Theatre's associated
director Michael Grandage. "He's a formidable man of the theatre and was keen to return to the stage. The most exciting thing is that he could do it almost anywhere - at the
National, on Broadway - but he has decided the one place he wants do his
first play in nine years is here."
It clearly also owes something to the drawing power of Michael Grandage who
will direct Richard III with the same production team from Edward II which
Sir Ken came to see.
Branagh himself has done more than anything to keep the Shakespeare flame
burning with modern audiences, starring in and directing popular movie
versions of Much Ado about Nothing, Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost, often
featuring Hollywood Stars.
The Sheffield Crucible Theatre number is 0114 249 6000 - +44 114 249 6000 from abroad. Tickets go on sale 18 June 2001.
All evening performances start at 7.30pm and all matinees at 2.30pm.
Wed 13 Mar - Eve. - Public Dress Rehearsal (not opening night)
Thurs 14 Mar - Eve - Preview
Fri 15 Mar - Eve - Preview
Sat 16 Mar - Eve - Preview
Mon 18 Mar - Eve - Preview
Tue 19 Mar - Eve - Opening Night?
Wed 20 Mar - Eve
Thu 21 Mar - Mat & Eve
Fri 22 Mar - Eve
Sat 23 Mar - Eve
Tue 26 Mar - Eve
Wed 27 Mar - Mat & Eve
Thu 28 Mar - Eve - Signed performance for the hearing impaired
Fri 29 Mar - Eve
Sat 30 Mar - Mat & Eve - Mat performance Audio described (via headphones)
for the visually impaired
Tue 2 Apr - Eve
Wed 3 Apr - Mat & Eve
Thu 4 Apr - Eve
Fri 5 Apr - Eve
Sat 6 Apr - Mat & Eve (Closing Night)
(Thanks to Catherine)