Branagh's Richard Rates as Sheffield's Fastest SellerDate: 19 December 2001
Michael Grandage's production of Shakespeare's Richard III, starring Kenneth Branagh (pictured), has become the fastest-selling show in the history of Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. Ever since the limited spring 2002 engagement was announced last May, demand has been high. As a result, the theatre has this week extended the season, with 4,000 extra tickets released for four additional dates. Richard III will now run from 19 March 2002 and to 10 April 2002 (following previews from 13 March).
The title role marks Branagh's return to the UK stage for the first time in nearly a decade. The well-known writer, actor and director is, of course, an aficionado of Shakespeare. In addition to his many theatre productions for the RSC, he has been one of the main forces in bringing Shakespeare to film audiences with screen versions of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet and Love's Labours Lost. His non-Shakespearean stage acting credits include Another Country (for which he won the Society of West End Theatres and Plays and Players awards for Best Newcomer in 1982), Look Back in Anger, Golden Girls and Public Enemy.
Branagh last appeared on stage in the RSC's 1992 production of Hamlet. More recently, in addition to his film and television work (he is soon to star in the TV series Shackleton and in a future Harry Potter episode), Branagh undertook directorial duties for the Right Size's critically acclaimed West End comedy in honour of Morecambe and Wise, The Play What I Wrote.
Richard III is designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and musical compositions by Julian Phillips - who, with director Grandage, comprise the same creative team behind last year's production of Edward II, starring Joseph Fiennes.
The Shakespeare production is the sixth production in Crucible's 30th anniversary season, which culminates with a festival celebrating the work of playwright and director Peter Gill.
Sheffield Crucible was recently named Theatre of the Year, in the Barclays TMA Awards for regional theatres. Associate director Grandage has greatly assisted in raising the profile of the theatre with numerous stars in high-quality productions, while continuing to work in London and the West End. His recent productions at London's Donmar Warehouse - Passion Play, Merrily We Roll Along and currently Privates on Parade - have won considerable acclaim, and Grandage is hotly tipped as a possible successor to Donmar artistic director Sam Mendes, who steps down next year.
- by Terri Paddock