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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 17:34 GMT
Neeson bares chest to Broadway
Neeson appearing in The Phantom Menace
Neeson appearing in The Phantom Menace
Northern Ireland-born actor Liam Neeson is creating quite a sensation on Broadway - not least for the fact he has been taking off half of his clothes.

Neeson, from Ballymena, has been revealing his torso in a new production of Arthur Miller's 1953 classic, The Crucible, at the Virginia Theatre in New York.

He is playing opposite Laura Linney, Brian Murray and Anne Pitoniak, as a husband who is accused of adultery during the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century.

But the show has proved so popular that its 16-week run has completely sold out.


He has just come in from working in the fields and takes off his shirt to wash his chest

Richard Kornberg
Theatre agent

Richard Kornberg, the agent for the Virginia Theatre, said he knew the play would be popular but the extra attraction of a partially-clothed Neeson may have helped boost ticket sales.

"He is a very big star," Mr Kornberg told BBC News Online in Belfast.

"He has had excellent reviews. Critics have said how brilliant Liam Neeson is - only a few have mentioned that he takes off his shirt. They say he is a very sensual character.

"But if you were female and had come to see the show - the fact he takes off his shirt could be a bonus."

Neeson's character removes his clothing to reveal a bare chest in the second half of the play which is running until 8 June.

Liam Neeson: Creating a stir on Broadway
Liam Neeson: Creating a stir on Broadway

Mr Kornberg said: "He has just come in from working in the fields and takes off his shirt to wash his chest, face and hands prior to eating dinner.

"It's off for about 30 seconds and then he puts it on again."

However, Mr Kornberg denied recent newspaper reports that security guards were surrounding the theatre to stop anyone from taking a photograph of Neeson.

"There has been no additional security," he said.

"The only time we have additional security is if it was an opening night - and that would be because of the type of people in the audience, not because of an actor."

Critics have hailed the show a huge success.

USA Today said Neeson was "exquisite in the role, exuding a powerful, instinctive stage presence and a rigorous dignity that makes his downfall shattering."

New York Post theatre critic Clive Barnes said: "No praise can be too high for Neeson.

"He consistently appears much happier and even larger on stage than on screen."

Rebel

Neeson was nominated for an academy award for his portrayal of a German businessman who prevented thousands of Jews from being sent to Nazi death camps in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.

Another of his most prominent roles in recent years has been his portrayal of Irish rebel leader Michael Collins.

Neeson also starred in Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Rob Roy and Suspect.

He was awarded the OBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours list.

Before taking to the stage, he was a boxer and a forklift truck driver.

He was spotted by film director John Boorman while acting at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. He then appeared in Boorman's film Excalibur in 1981.

See also:

13 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Neeson auctions Jedi lightsabre
15 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Neeson headlines Star Wars premier
08 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Dispute over Liam Neeson honour
13 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Neeson auction rallies Hollywood stars
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