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10 Notable Hamlets on Stage and Screen

From Laurence Olivier to David Tennant

From Olivier’s Oscar glory to Day-Lewis’ Method meltdown (when he hallucinated and saw his dead dad onstage), THR critic Stephen Dalton picks 10 of the most riveting performances of literature’s most demanding role, before Benedict Cumberbatch stepped in.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter

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Here’s What Benedict Cumberbatch’s Mom Had To Say About Her Son’s Hamlet Performance

The London production of Hamlet has been a runaway box office success

The critics may have had mixed reviews of the new production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, but the actor’s mother gave no doubt that she was a fan of her son’s performance, saying her son was “a bloody good Hamlet.”

“He was quite lively growing up, but I thought that was phenomenal,” Cumberbatch’s mother Wanda Ventham told the Guardian. She urged critics to declare her son, “a bloody good Hamlet.”

The London production of the Shakespeare classic has been a runaway box office success, at least in part due to the fame surrounding Cumberbatch. Still, the production opened to mixed reviews earlier this month.


TIME Theater

Sara Bareilles is Writing Songs for Upcoming Waitress Musical

Sara Bareilles
Jeff Daly—Invision/AP Sara Bareilles performs during the Little Black Dress Tour 2014 at the Seminole Casinos Hard Rock Live on July 25, 2014 in Hollywood, Florida.

The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name

Break out those desserts: Waitress is coming to Broadway.

According to a press release, the new musical — based on the 2007 film of the same name by Adrienne Shelly — will arrive as part of the 2015-2016 season, opening April 2016 with previews starting in March at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Waitress tells the story of a small-town girl named Jenna, who works in a diner and is trapped in a less than idealistic life with a terrible marriage and impending pregnancy. When an opportunity for a pie-baking contest comes along, it seems like the perfect out … if she can make the choice to leave her friends and family. The new musical features a book by Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Diane Paulus (Pippin), along with a score featuring original songs by Grammy-nomianted singer and songwriter Sara Bareilles. Specific Broadway dates and casting for the musical will be announced at a later time.

The production is currently playing at the American Reperatory Theater at Harvard University in Massachusetts until Sept. 27, with Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller starring as Jenna.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Theater

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Will Compose a Broadway Score

The revival opens in October

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is making his Broadway debut as a composer for the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of the 1970s show Old Times in October, the company announced Wednesday.

Yorke wrote an original score for the play but will not perform in the show, the New York Times reports, The play stars Clive Owen and opens in October at the American Airlines Theatre.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Doug on my first stage production,” Yorke of his collaboration with director Douglas Hodge. “I’ve enjoyed exploring through music the script’s themes of love and memory.”

TIME Theater

Benedict Cumberbatch Begs Fans Not to Record Hamlet Performances, Says It’s ‘Mortifying’

Benedict Cumberbatch arrives at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Robert Galbraith—Reuters Benedict Cumberbatch, best actor nominee for his role in "The Imitation Game" arrives at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California Feb. 22, 2015

"There’s nothing less supportive or enjoyable as an actor being on stage experiencing that"

Benedict Cumberbatch is Supreme-ly in favor of proper theatre etiquette. The actor, who will play the Sorcerer Supreme/Doctor Strange in Marvel’s upcoming movie, is currently performing in a production of Hamlet in London. After his show on Saturday night, he approached fans waiting outside the Barbican to ask them not to illegally record the performances.

“I can see red lights in the auditorium, and it may not be any of you here that did that, but it’s blindingly obvious,” he said. “It’s mortifying, and there’s nothing less supportive or enjoyable as an actor being on stage experiencing that. And I can’t give you what I want to give you which is a live performance that you’ll remember — hopefully in your minds and brains whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent — rather than on your phones.”

He continued, “This isn’t me blaming you, this is just me asking you to just ripple it out there, in the brilliant beautiful way that you do with your funny electronic things.”

We’ll all soon get to see Cumberbatch in action as the mad prince of Denmark, anyway. For all of those unable to travel to London, the production will be broadcast to cinemas all over the world starting on Oct. 15. Until then, watch the actor’s message to the fans in the video below.

Under director Lyndsey Turner, Cumberbatch made his debut inHamlet this past Wednesday, and he’ll continue the 12-week run through Oct. 31. As he told the crowd, it’s been “one hell of a week.” The Telegraph’s Serena Davies wrote Cumberbatch “commands and surprises,” while The Daily Mail remarked, “Hamlet in a hoodie was electrifying.” On the opposite spectrum is The London Times’ Katie Maltby, who gave the play two stars and called it a “production aimed squarely at those Cumber-fans.”

This article first appeared on EW.com

TIME Theater

Benedict Cumberbatch Electrifies London in Hamlet Opening

Benedict Cumberbatch
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Benedict Cumberbatch in Pasadena, Calif. in Jan. 2015.

Cumberfans queued through the night

Benedict Cumberbatch’s opening performance in the title role in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet has lived up to the hype with theatregoers calling it “electrifying.”

People have gone to great lengths to see the play, with some travelling from around to watch the performance and others camping out by the theatre to get their hands on spare tickets.

The 12-week production sold out in minutes last August and tickets are now being traded on eBay for up to $700. The last time the Sherlock actor performed on stage was in Frankenstein in 2011.

Fans took to Twitter last night, describing the actor’s performance in the tragedy as “sublime.”



TIME Media

The Surprisingly Controversial Plots That Almost Got ‘Little Orphan Annie’ Axed

GAB Archive—Redferns / Getty A poster from a movie version of 'Annie'

Aug. 5, 1924: The comic strip 'Little Orphan Annie' debuts

In the musical and the movies, Little Orphan Annie triumphs over adversity — her own personal tragedy and Miss Hannigan’s greedy schemes — in one relatively quick stroke. But when she got her start as a comic strip character on this day, Aug. 5, in 1924, the spunky orphan “with a heart of gold and a fast left” faced an endless onslaught of challenges both on and off the page.

She survived everything from shipwreck to mob hits as her creator, the cartoonist and conservative political thinker Harold Gray, painted her into a corner each week. But the real threats to Annie’s survival came from newspaper editors, who occasionally objected to plotlines in which the plucky redhead appeared to be little more than a mouthpiece for Gray’s controversial political views. TIME noted several occasions over the years when Annie landed in more than just the usual hot water:

1935: The plot takes a turn for the propagandistic when political racketeers threaten to destroy one of Daddy Warbucks’ factories. To the editor of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, the rhetoric seems better suited to Ayn Rand than to America’s best-loved orphan. As he describes the offending plotline, per TIME:

… all political leaders, and it follows every public official, are at once indicted as ‘crooks’ and to accept such a sweeping indictment is to permit the creator of Little Orphan Annie and . . . the Chicago Tribune Syndicate, to attack and condemn all persons, all institutions, and all ideas save those they choose to label acceptable…

The editor pulls the comic strip, and in its place runs a black banner reading “DELETED! FOR VIOLATION OF READER TRUST.”

1937: Gray is accused of tarnishing the good name of one of the nation’s largest credit agencies, Retail Credit Company, after Annie cheats death at the hands of an unscrupulous acquaintance who has insured her for $100,000—and then shoved her into a river. One character explains, per TIME, “OF COURSE, THERE HAD TO BE A FAVORABLE RETAIL CREDIT REPORT—BUT THAT WAS EASY.”

Most papers pull the strip; one that can’t cut it fast enough is forced to publish an apology to the company.

1943: FDR fans on the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal take notice when Annie faces off against corrupt, hypocritical bureaucrats in charge of wartime rationing. After pulling the strip, the paper’s publisher explains, per TIME: “(We do) not mind presenting opinions contrary to our own, (but) we have to insist that opinion of whatever kind be duly labeled as such and not smuggled into comic strips in the guise of entertainment.” Gray concedes the point, saying, “The Syndicate has a hard & fast rule against editorializing. I shouldn’t have done it.” He kills the rest of the anti-bureaucrat strips, and the orphan is given a reprieve.

1956: Annie takes on street hoodlums in her latest adventure. As TIME reports, Gray intended this plotline to be “a ‘thorough and penetrating analysis’ of teenage violence.” But editors and readers alike question the company she keeps — and a number of papers suspend the strip until she finds more suitable companions. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat issues a front-page statement: “Annie . . . features muggings, switchblade knives and language that we think does not fit into [this] type of newspaper.”

1965: Annie issues a damning assessment of the nation’s mental health system after Daddy Warbucks is railroaded into an insane asylum she calls “worse’n a real prison.” Another character notes that patients “as sane as anybody but labeled crazy are stuck here in this snake pit with no chance o’ gettin’ out.” The Hartford Courant bans the strip for two weeks for its “pejorative attitude toward mental institutions and mental health,” per TIME.

This time, Gray doesn’t apologize. “I’m not crusading. I’m doing a script,” he counters. “I know some editors are writing editorials saying it couldn’t happen in their states. But it can be done. The main thing is that I had to get Daddy Warbucks into a jam. This is a believable jam.”

Read more from 19443, here in the TIME archives: The Press: Moppet in Politics

TIME celebrities

Actress Valerie Harper Has Been Released From the Hospital

AARP The Magazine's 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala - Arrivals
Gabriel Olsen—Getty Images Valerie Harper arrives for AARP the Magazine's 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 2, 2015

She was found unconscious before a theater performance

Actress Valerie Harper has been released from the hospital she was taken to in York, Maine, after being found unconscious backstage before a theater performance Wednesday, Deadline.com reports.

Harper, best known for playing Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, revealed in 2013 that she has terminal brain cancer.

The 75-year-old has continued to work through her illness and is currently appearing along with Sally Struthers in the Gershwin musical Nice Work if You Can Get It. She spent Wednesday night receiving treatment and was discharged Thursday morning, Deadline.com says.

Harper has experience fighting cancer — she beat lung cancer in 2009 — and has endeavored to stay positive throughout her ordeal. “When I wake up in the morning, I don’t say, ‘Oh, I have cancer.’ I say ‘Another day. How you feeling? Good? Good,’” she told People in May.

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