British actor/director Kenneth Branagh has been tipped to take over from Kevin Spacey as the artistic director of a celebrated London theatre company after the Oscar winner steps down in 2015. Spacey's successful tenure as artistic director of the Old Vic will come to an end in two years' time, and members of the theatre's board met this week (08Jul13) to begin their search for a replacement.
Theatre veteran Branagh is now said to be their current favourite to take over in September, 2015.
However, a spokeswoman for the Old Vic is adamant a deal has yet to be struck, telling Britain's Daily Mail, "(There will be) much speculation about names... the process is only now formally beginning."
Branagh is currently appearing on stage in Manchester, England in a production of Macbeth.
Mamma Mia! star Stellan Skarsgard is close to signing on to Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella blockbuster, joining a cast that features Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. The Scandinavian star is in talks to play the king's adviser in the ambitious live-action adaptation of the beloved fairytale, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lily James will play the title character in the film, to be directed by Branagh, and Game of Thrones hunk Richard Madden has been cast as the story's Prince.
Blanchett will portray the wicked stepmother, Bonham Carter the fairy godmother, and Downton Abbey star Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger will play stepsisters.
Sir Kenneth Branagh has won a slew of five star reviews for his stage comeback in Macbeth. The actor has returned to the theatre for the first time in five years with the title role in William Shakespeare's tragedy, which opened in a deconsecrated Victorian church as part of the Manchester International Festival in Manchester, England on Thursday (04Jul13).
The production, which also features ER star Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, has now been hailed a huge success by critics, with The Guardian's Michael Billington even comparing Branagh's performance to that of acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier. He writes, "What I admire about Branagh is that he is not afraid to do a spot of old-fashioned acting. The highest compliment I can pay him is that at times he evoked golden memories of Olivier in the role... This is an exciting production that shows why Branagh is such a fine Shakespearean actor."
Dominic Cavendish of The Daily Telegraph branded the play "thrilling" and gave it five stars out of five, adding, "This is a Macbeth, though, that won’t just go down as a highlight of the Manchester International Festival but as one of the Scottish Play’s great revivals. It’s a phoenix-like feather in the cap of Sir Ken, too, comeback Shakespearean king."
Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail also gave the play five stars and hailed Branagh as a "magnificent actor" while another five stars came from Deanna Delamotta of the Manchester Evening News.
The part in Macbeth not only marks Branagh's first stage role in five years, it also marks his return to Shakespeare after more than a decade of absence, while it is his first time playing the Bard's tragic Scottish king.
Singer Toni Braxton is back in the studio with the man who helped launch her career, Kenneth 'babyface' Edmonds, for the first time in years. The Un-Break My Heart hitmaker was signed to Edmonds' LaFace record label ahead of her self-titled debut album's release in 1993.
The pair went on to share huge success, with Edmonds working as a writer and producer on her next two hit records, but the duo later parted ways professionally, and Braxton has since failed to replicate her previous chart glory.
They are now working together again on Braxton's eighth album, which will be released through Motown Records later this year (13).
Producer Jermaine Dupri admits he is thrilled the stars are back in the studio together, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "Happy to see this, I never understood why they stopped working together in the first place."
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky's black negligee and notes to a former lover are up for auction on a Santa Monica, California company's website. Bosses at Nate D. Sanders Auctions have placed 32 lots under the hammer after taking charge of the Lewinsky collection recently.
Auction manager Laura Yntema tells NBC News that the items were handed over by the ex-wife of Lewinsky's former lover and high school teacher Andy Bleiler, adding that many of the keepsakes were submitted to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr during his investigation into Clinton's affair with his intern during the late 1990s. The scandal led to the President's impeachment.
According to the auction house's website, the items were sent to the Bleiler family after Starr completed his investigation.
The collection is expected to fetch between $25,000 (£16,000) and $50,000 (£32,000).
Helena Bonham Carter is set to reunite with her ex-boyfriend Kenneth Branagh as the Fairy Godmother in a new movie version of classic fairytale Cinderella. Branagh will direct the live-action fantasy, which will feature Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother and Lily James as Cinderella.
Reports suggest Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, Downton Abbey's Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger are also in talks for roles in the project.
It may be the most famous scene in Western literature: Romeo’s declaration of love beneath Juliet’s balcony. So how do you stage it without words? If you stage it as a dance how do you deal with the separation of the two lovers? Sir Kenneth MacMillan provided an easy answer in his choreography for Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. You get Juliet off that balcony and down on terra firma for a pas de deux with Romeo stat. The challenge is that the dancers’ physicality has to be as good as Shakespeare’s words.
Cory Stearns and Gillian Murphy of the American Ballet Theatre meet MacMillan’s challenge as the star-crossed title characters in a new production of Prokofiev’s ballet playing at Lincoln Center through June 15. But they’re lucky. They have the support of the spare-no-expenses American Ballet Theatre ethos. It’s resulted in another sumptuous, soaring ballet.
ABT’s Romeo and Juliet opens on the marketplace of Verona. There’s a wooden stairway, several stalls for vendors, some hay scattered about, all the little organic details the company likes to establish for complete immersion. The marketplace slowly comes alive as the baker arrives, then the blacksmith, then the fishmonger. This is a living space, perfect for MacMillan’s unfussy, down-to-earth choreographic style. He even integrates some elements of northern Italian folkdance into the traditional ballet when he has a group of wheat-toting women perform light clogging. Before you know it, the entire marketplace has erupted in violence with Montagues dueling Capulets via some fierce swordplay.
MacMillan’s democratic style meant populating his stage with a multitude of elements at once and encouraging you to scan about and perceive as many details as possible. That means any of the background peasants get as much attention as Tybalt and Mercutio. Only Romeo and Juliet themselves get the spotlight. As Romeo, Cory Stearns, who’s only been a principal at ABT for two years, is athletic and engaging. The Long Island native is more streamlined than muscular, perfect for capturing a youth in the throes of his first true passion. And Gillian Murphy, a South Carolina prodigy who’s been a principal for eleven years, is appropriately willowy and ethereal.
In bringing life to their characters, Stearns and Murphy are supported by Prokofiev’s propulsive 1935 score, conducted here by Charles Barker. The Russian modernist was a master of narrativizing music, and he’s best known today for teasing out the full drama of his works by assigning themes to each of his characters. One of his most famous pieces, Peter and the Wolf, goes so far as to designate a specific instrument for each animal in the story. Something similar happens here, with flutes corresponding to Juliet and strings to Romeo. But overall, Romeo and Juliet is one of Prokofiev’s looser compositions. In conjunction with MacMillan’s choreography it’s a ballet that exists on the opposite pole from, say, Prokofiev’s score for the film Alexander Nevsky, in which the music is perfectly synchronized with the images — a vision of determinism reflecting a time in which free will seemed unattainable in Russian society.
The one time you feel that level of control in Romeo and Juliet is, of course, the famous “Dance of the Knights,” a brooding, violent piece in which the Montagues and Capulets march with militaristic menace. MacMillan places the two camps in strictly regimented formation as if the Montagues and Capulets are extras in Triumph of the Will. It’s easy to imagine that Prokofiev, living at the height of Stalin’s “show trials” and with the Nazis about ready to march across Europe, might have likened the Montagues and Capulets’ culture of violence to ‘30s fascism. Not traditional romantic music, Prokofiev’s composition seems to underline the lovers’ break from tradition more than their sensual longing. It shows that Romeo and Juliet truly is timeless, because it can be so easily modified to fit the priorities of the time in which it’s retold.
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Downton Abbey star Sophie Mcshera is reportedly in talks to play one of Cinderella's ugly sisters in Kenneth Branagh's star-studded movie adaptation of the classic fairytale. Lily James and Cate Blanchett have already been cast as the title character and her evil stepmother, respectively, and now it appears McShera will team up with The Borgias' Holliday Grainger to play the live action film's selfish siblings, Drisella and Anastasia.
McShera is best known as Downton Abbey's moody maid Daisy Mason.
Game of Thrones star Richard Madden has landed the coveted role of Prince Charming in Branagh's film.
Five Stairsteps frontman Clarence Burke, Jr. has died at the age of 64. The singer, famed for hit track O-o-h Child, passed away on Sunday (26May13), a day after his 64th birthday, in his adopted home of Marietta, Georgia.
No further details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Burke, Jr. formed family group the Five Stairsteps in 1965 with his three brothers, James, Dennis and Kenneth, and their sister, Alohe, and he was just 17 when they enjoyed their first hit with You Waited Too Long in 1966.
The group's other hits included World of Fantasy, Don't Change Your Love and well-known song O-o-h Child.
Burke, Jr. was the group's lead singer and main songwriter and he continued to work in the music industry after they disbanded in the 1970s.
The brothers briefly reformed under the name Invisible Man's Band and enjoyed a hit with All Night Thing in 1980.
Burke, Jr. continued as a solo artist in more recent years.
Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Judy Garland's beloved hairstylist has died at the age of 86. Kenneth Battelle passed away at his home in Wappingers Falls, New York on Sunday (12May13), according to the New York Times.
The hairdresser gained fame in the 1950s for his roster of celebrity clientele, which over the years has included a variety of screen icons like Lucille Ball, former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and high-profile socialite Brooke Astor.
Born in Syracuse, Battelle attended beauty school after he was discharged from the U.S. Navy and went on to become a popular stylist in Miami, Florida before moving to Manhattan to open his own salon, where he was credited with restoring the Some Like It Hot star's platinum blonde hair and perfecting Onassis' iconic bouffant.
He retired in 2011.