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Tony Grist

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The Smell Of The Greasepaint [Dec. 14th, 2007|12:00 pm]
Tony Grist
I've never been much of a theatre goer. If I'm honest I find theatre disappointing. 

I wish I'd seen Olivier on stage. I really do. Maybe then I'd have understood why he's supposed to be so great. 

I saw Alec Guinness in one of Alan Bennett's plays about spies. It was awfully talky. I remember the verbal music and a wonderful twitchy, mini-nervous breakdown thing he did at the end.

I saw Antony Hopkins as Lear. Not very good. Hopkins admitted afterwards he really didn't understand what he was doing. The best thing in that production was Anna Massey's Goneril.

 Dorothy Tutin and Alec McCowen as Antony and Cleopatra. Both of them woefully miscast. That's the nearest I've come to falling asleep during a show.

Charlton Heston in the Caine Mutiny, Lauren Bacall in Sweet Bird of Youth:  just because you can fill the screen doesn't mean you can hold the stage.

Good experiences? David Warner's Hamlet- and a sexy, greenwoody As You Like It in Manchester with Janet McTeer as Rosalind.

[User Picture]From: upasaka
2007-12-14 12:50 pm (UTC)
My best theatre ever: Ian McKellan's one man show "Acting Shakespeare" in Princeton in the early 1980s. He was an awesome Lady Macbeth. That was long before any Americans had heard of him, and I only went because someone gave me tickets!
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[User Picture]From: qos
2007-12-14 01:45 pm (UTC)
I loved that show! I hadn't realized you'd seen it too!
I saw it at college in the late 80's.
It's the context for my "I-Died-on-Stage-With-Ian-McKellan" story!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 01:58 pm (UTC)
I've never seen him on stage- but the film record of his Macbeth- with Judy Dench as Lady M- is my favourite version of the play.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-12-14 04:40 pm (UTC)
I saw Ian McKellan in the original West End production of Bent. He was already brilliant and just got better.
I also saw Alan Howard in The Hollow Crown series done by Terry Hands. He was awesome.
Basically I agree with Poliphilio - I don't see what the fuss is all about Olivier.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2007-12-14 12:58 pm (UTC)
Saw Judi Dench and Donald Sinden in Much Ado at Stratford on a skool trip once. They were tremendous. But agreed, memorable productions are rare.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 02:00 pm (UTC)
I saw Sinden as Lord Foppington in whatever Restoration drama that is.

And (brag, brag) I was at school with his son Jeremy- a promising actor who died young.
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[User Picture]From: qos
2007-12-14 01:54 pm (UTC)
Film acting and theater acting are not the same talent. Fine film actors often flounder on stage -- and sometimes I'm sure they've been cast only to bring in ticket buyers who wouldn't bother if it didn't have someone famous in it.

One of my favorite performances was our local theater's production of Arson and Old Lace, which I'd never seen before. I loved it. The wolfling loved it. We rented the movie, and even though I'm a Cary Grant fan, I enjoyed the play much more.

It's all about what the actors bring to the performance -- truth-telling as well as technical skill -- and what the director does to shape it all.

My favorite target for film-director bashing is Geroge Lucas, who can take talented actors, people capable of giving extrordinary performances, and transform them into wooden puppets.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 02:05 pm (UTC)
I love the movies and am lukewarm about live theatre.

And that's another reason why I'm a bit down on Olivier. I think it's absurd to call a man the greatest actor of the century when he never entirely mastered the movies.

For me the greatest actor of the last century is Jimmy Stewart.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2007-12-14 02:54 pm (UTC)
I saw David Suchet and Michael Sheen in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus in 1999. That was awesome.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 03:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can imagine.

Good actors, both of them.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-12-14 03:35 pm (UTC)
See, I LOVE live theatre. I'm one of those 'if you build it she will come' theatre fans. I've seen productions here (Central New York) with people who later went on to become 'stars' - or at least, in the movies. But LIVE theatre is kind of warts and all - no time to edit out the mistakes (or the bad acting.) Way way back, before the movie was even a gleam in the eye of whomever, Syracuse Stage did a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It was so popular that after playing to PACKED HOUSES every single night for two weeks, they brought it back at the end of the season and it ran for a month - packed houses. The movie...just was kind of an anemic version of a play that held everyone in thrall, live. (I worked as an usher, I got to see the play a couple of times and it was great every single time.)

I saw a live production of "Horsefeathers" that was played a little less broadly and (IMHO) much more funny than the Marx Brothers ever were. (David Canary was the star of that one.)

I saw Jill St. John and Robert Wagner in "Love Letters" (in Waterloo, Ontario).

oooh, you saw Anna Massey LIVE? (turns green with envy)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 04:07 pm (UTC)
If I had a time machine my first stop would be Shakespearean London- so I could go and watch a few shows at the Globe. I would love to experience what it was like to be in that audience experiencing those plays for the very first time.
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From: sculptruth
2007-12-14 04:08 pm (UTC)
Do you think the actors who have successfully crossed from one to the other had previous theatre experience before starring in movies? I'm thinking of Ian McKellan and Catherine Zeta Jones, as examples; but I don't know McKellan's history for certain.

Film is simply an entirely different medium. I wish I went out to see more plays...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-12-14 04:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes- McKellen was a star of the British stage long before he broke into movies. He's generally regarded as the best Shakespearean actor of his generation.

Can I recommend the film of Macbeth with the young McKellen and Judy Dench? It's a record of an RSC stage production and- to my mind- just about as good as it gets.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-12-14 04:45 pm (UTC)
I agree about McKellen. I saw him do Richard the III at the National when I worked there he was awesome in that as well.
And now he triumphs in Panto - What a guy!
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