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Saturday, 10 June, 2000, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Grammer braves Macbeth's curse
Is this a dog I see before me?
By BBC News Online's Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook

In a bold move Kelsey Grammer, best known as the star of the hit US sitcom Frasier, is taking to the Broadway stage to play the lead in a new production of Macbeth.

Although Grammer is best known as Dr Frasier Crane - which he first originated in the sitcom Cheers - he is a stage-trained actor. He spent two years at the prestigious Julliard School in New York before joining San Diego's Old Globe Theatre.

In the 1980s he appeared on Broadway in productions of both Macbeth and Othello. But Grammer says he feels he is now the right age to play Macbeth.

He's taken what part?
He's taken what part?

"I was too young, when I played it at 25. Now that I'm 45, I probably have a little more foundation I can use to play the role. I think it's a great story, I love the characters and that's why I'm doing it."

The Broadway production of Macbeth is being staged by Terry Hands, a former Royal Shakespeare Company director who has just guided Grammer through a tryout in Boston.

By all accounts, Hands has created a minimalist rendering of one of the Bard's greatest works - and it has met with a mixed response. Both he and Grammer were slayed by some of the Boston critics.


The Boston Herald wrote that this Macbeth was a production that had gone "totally awry" and it faulted Hands for putting too much emphasis on the lighting design, and not paying enough attention to the actors.

Certainly I do feel as though I may be the largest target to present itself in quite some time

Kelsey Grammer on the critics

The paper also criticised Grammer, commenting that his performance "offers absolutely no insight into the character of Macbeth".

Grammer was not happy with the hostile comments of some of the Boston critics. He responded by saying: "We were savaged by the ignorant. I will not even speak further about them than that."

Grammer is clearly concerned how the powerful New York theatre reviewers will respond when Macbeth opens in a few days time for an eight-week run.

He is well aware that a popular TV star taking to the boards in a great Shakespearean classic may be inviting trouble.

Grammer admits: "Certainly I do feel as though I may be the largest target to present itself in quite some time".

Star appeal

But the Emmy-winning star is one of the most popular actors on American TV, and many of his fans are extremely pleased he is taking to the Broadway stage.

With the critical response in Boston rather mixed, Grammer is delighted that the public, at least, seems enthusiastic.

The cast of Cheers
Grammer (top) in his other big comedy hit Cheers

"I am certainly glad to hear people are looking forward to seeing me in Macbeth," he says, adding that he finds the support "very flattering".

Even if Grammer's performance doesn't bring in Shakespeare fans he can rest assured that followers of his TV show will come in their droves to see him perform.

Grammer is planning to return to the next series of Frasier. But in the long term, he says he feels drawn to the stage:

"I have got that other job and I intend to do that for another couple of years, but when the time presents itself it is my dream to do more theatre."

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See also:

18 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Frasier star returns to the 'holy' land
14 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Frasier breaks record at Emmys
27 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Frasier star's emergency operation
05 Jun 00 | Entertainment
British stars shine at Tonys
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