What deep, rich voice and commanding presence gets your attention across the spectrum from Star Trek to Shakespeare? If you said the voice and presence belonging to Patrick Stewart, you’d be in agreement with a lot of fans. Now he brings those marvelously attractive qualities to the footlights of the Lyceum Theatre for 64 performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. After finishing its sold-out run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on March 22, previews begin at the Lyceum on Friday, March 28 with an official opening night Tuesday, April 8. Performances of this production, nominated for five Olivier Awards, will continue through May 24. Also, for this production, Stewart was given the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor and the Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Shakespearean Performance. The production is presented in two 80-minute acts with an outstanding cast, in particular Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth. The The New York Times visited the performance and a gala for a video on its website.
Unlike the virtuous Jean-Luc Picard standing on the deck of his starship, Macbeth is one of stage and literature’s great villains; Shakespeare drew from The Chronicles by Holinshed and other sources when he wrote this masterpiece of the English language. But he moved Macbeth from villain to a “tragic hero” that we can recognize even today. Director Rupert Goold, receiving the Evening Standard and critics Circle Theatre awards for Best Director, puts a chilling twist on Shakespeare’s work. His version is set in some unmentionable hellhole, in some unnamable country, resembling Stalin’s cold-war era of the 50s. As the body count grows in the once-noble Macbeth’s lust to kill the king and seize power, so the terror of his deeds impinges on his mind and soul, destroying him.
Stewart began his stage career at the age of 12, later graduating from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Beginning in 1959, he worked with numerous repertory companies in Great Britain. And joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966. He earned many credits along the way, in theater and film. He debuted on Broadway as Snout in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1971. X-Men fans will remember him as Professor Charles Xavier in three films and trekkies loved him in four Star Trek movies. He shone in many other films, too, such as “LA Story,” “Dune,” and “Excalibur.” His television credits include appearances in “Extras,” “Frasier,” “The Lion in Winter,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Moby Dick.” Thankfully, his commercial success has not jaded him; he brings a ruthless strength and vitality to this role as Macbeth sinks into despair in his bid for power.