All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Monday, February 19, 2024

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: a grand masterpiece and an ordinary family drama by Michael Billington

Eugene O’Neill’s mighty drama, returning to the West End with Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson, has drawn generations of stage greats and casts its spell with a story we can all recognise…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:02PM
Monday, February 12, 2024

Ian McKellen’s new Hamlet shows the screen can outdo the stage - Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Sean Mathias has reimagined his 2021 production of the tragedy as a movie, inventively using Windsor’s Theatre Royal and capturing McKellen’s subtle performance How best to film a stage …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:12AM
Thursday, January 18, 2024

The many faces of Falstaff: Shakespeare’s tragicomic knight is as complex as Hamlet by Michael Billington

Ian McKellen follows in the footsteps of David Warner and Antony Sher as he takes on a character who has been played as wittily jovial and cruelly cunning When asked why he had never played …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:18AM
Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Front row at the wedding from hell: a toast to theatre’s marital ding-dongs by Michael Billington

Party punch-ups, brides in disguise, simmering family rancour … playwrights have cordially invited audiences to some nightmarish nuptials There are myriad plays about marriage. Far fewer a…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:06AM
Friday, January 5, 2024

Seeking Michael Hastings, the missing man of British theatre by Michael Billington

Best known for writing Tom and Viv, Hastings made his debut as a teenage dramatist in the 1950s. Now, his vivid ‘young man’s play’ Don’t Destroy Me is back We watch old movies. We re…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:06AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2023

From Joe Egg to Noises Off, Michael Blakemore was a superb craftsman of theatre by Michael Billington

One of the great postwar theatre directors, Blakemore – who has died aged 95 – had a vast range and was a formidable writer It is sadly ironic that the death of Michael Blakemore, at the…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:24PM

Oh, what a beautiful evening – but this ritzy Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute could have been radical | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

A superb, starry cast in the West End paid homage to the musical duo behind Carousel, Oklahoma! and South Pacific. If only the concert had also addressed their shows’ contradictions The st…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:06AM
Friday, November 24, 2023

Who comes first – playwright or director? It depends which country you’re in by Michael Billington

Katie Mitchell has compared her experiences of hierarchies in British and German theatre. Our strength has always lain in honouring the text Katie Mitchell this week gave the annual lecture …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:02PM
Sunday, November 19, 2023

Joss Ackland: a beacon of power on British stage and screen by Michael Billington

From a sportive Falstaff for the RSC to a powerful Juan Perón in Evita, Ackland – who has died aged 95 – rarely had the star role but was a reassuring presence Joss Ackland, who has die…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:36PM
Monday, November 6, 2023

Ibsen’s Ghosts: a resounding flop that still returns to haunt us by Michael Billington

Despite being panned as ‘a dirty act done publicly’ on its London premiere, the tragedy is now regarded as a classic – here are three productions that radically shifted our perspective…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:24PM
Thursday, October 19, 2023

The National Theatre’s earlier start times are a great result for audiences | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

A pilot scheme means some performances will now begin at 6.30pm. That means more time for eating, travelling and – most importantly – discussing the show ‘The drama’s laws the drama�…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:25AM
Thursday, October 5, 2023

As it turns 60, the National Theatre must balance past and present by Michael Billington

The NT has a civic duty to revive woefully neglected plays from the world repertory. Doing so will make modern drama stronger Writing about the National Theatre on its 50th anniversary, I sa…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:43AM
Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sir Michael Gambon obituary by Michael Billington

Versatile actor with a magnificent presence who starred in The Singing Detective and the Harry Potter filmsThe word “great” is somewhat promiscuously applied to actors. But it was undoub…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:33PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Is King Lear a mountain or molehill? How to play the tragic monarch and ‘stupid old fart’ by Michael Billington

Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen and Glenda Jackson have all redefined Shakespeare’s unpredictable ruler – a role in which actors usually succeed Kenneth Branagh is set to play, and direct, K…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:07AM
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

After Amadeus: Brian Cox as Bach is theatre’s latest orchestral manoeuvre by Michael Billington

Oliver Cotton’s The Score, a new drama about Bach’s confrontation with Frederick II, continues a rich tradition of plays about great composers You wait decades for a play about Johann Se…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:13AM
Sunday, August 6, 2023

Sir Michael Boyd brought visionary gleam to Shakespeare and Stratford by Michael Billington

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s former artistic director was a great theatrical leader whose legacy includes proving the history cycle is at the centre of our national story News of the de…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:04AM
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The play’s the thing – but its success depends on the theatre too | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Not all buildings are created equal. From sightlines to acoustics to the alchemy of actor-audience rapport, the physical facts of a dramatic space are fundamental What makes a good theatre? …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:37PM
Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Stephen Wood obituary by Michael Billington

Stephen Wood, who has died aged 73 after a stroke, was a press officer, administrator and former stage manager who worked closely with Alan Ayckbourn at Scarborough. He was at the National T…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:25PM
Friday, June 30, 2023

The new Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a riot of laughs – but does it make us angry enough? | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Return of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s political farce begs a question: can theatre ever be as potent as documentary? There is a fascinating role reversal going on in London theatre. Behind …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:13AM
Thursday, June 29, 2023

Friends, Romans, Mr Speaker: can Shakespeare clean up parliament? by Michael Billington

An all-star cast arrived in Westminster on Monday with a potted Julius Caesar, partly in hopes of elevating public discourse. It’s good to have a dream … A murder took place in the speak…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:55PM
Thursday, June 15, 2023

Rufus Norris has made the National Theatre more diverse – on both sides of the curtain | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

The director, who has announced he is stepping down, should be credited for opening up the organisation and steering it through the Covid crisis. Now, who’s next for the NT job? Every dire…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:43AM

Glenda Jackson was piercingly intelligent and unafraid to take risks by Michael Billington

The actor and former MP, who has died aged 87, displayed courage and a sharp mind, on stage and in politics Glenda Jackson, who has died aged 87, had a career unmatched by any of her contemp…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:19AM
Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Medea in mid-air: how Syracuse’s Greek theatre keeps the classics alive by Michael Billington

Playing in the vast ancient amphitheatre, imaginative new productions of Euripides and Aeschylus find fresh nuance even in this huge space How best to stage the great Greek classics? The fas…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:06AM
Sunday, May 7, 2023

The Coronation review – immaculately rehearsed, touching and Shakespearean by Michael Billington

A blend of pageantry, procession, music and mystery, with many private moments to savour A coronation is pure theatre. But how does one review it when there is so little to compare it with? …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:02PM
Monday, April 24, 2023

Somerset Maugham: a wily playwright of light dramas and weighty morals by Michael Billington

A new revival of The Circle is a reminder of a dramatist who smuggled vital messages into broad crowdpleasers Never trust what dramatists say about themselves. Noël Coward spent decades dis…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:06AM
Monday, April 17, 2023

Murray Melvin obituary by Michael Billington

Actor, archivist of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and director, with a long career in theatre, film and televisionThe actor and director Murray Melvin, who has died aged 90, had a rich …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:02AM
Thursday, April 6, 2023

A wordless death, a dazzling new talent and a 50-day squat: is Athens the hotbed of European theatre? by Michael Billington

Thirty directors from all over Europe converged on Greece for a showcase of its fizzing new talent that even included a play about the Nazis by Tony Kushner. What did they learn on this five…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:24AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Musicals are having an exceptional moment – but classic plays are vanishing from our stages | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

There are invigorating versions of Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma! and Cabaret in London – and some enticing new dramas coming – yet theatre risks being cut off from its past David Hare has ar…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:12PM
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Noël Coward was not just an amiable jester but a scathing social satirist | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

He presented himself as a message-free entertainer but, 50 years after his death, it is time to reconsider the variety of the great playwright’s work Anniversaries offer a chance for reapp…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:17AM
Sunday, January 22, 2023

Ted Whitehead obituary by Michael Billington

Dramatist and screenwriter whose best-known stage play, Alpha Beta, is a scorching study of marriage and morality As a passionate lover of football, in particular of Liverpool FC, Ted Whiteh…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:06PM
Monday, January 9, 2023

Heavenly powers or something rotten? When Richard Burton played Hamlet by Michael Billington

It was a box-office hit directed by John Gielgud and created turmoil on stage and off. Now, the 1964 Broadway staging has inspired The Motive and the Cue, a new play by Jack Thorne In 1964 R…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:00PM

All that Chat

May 30, 2023: Grey House - Lyceum Theatre
Jun 26, 2023: Just For Us - Hudson Theatre
Jul 24, 2023: The Cottage - Hayes Theater
Nov 16, 2023: Spamalot - St. James Theatre
Dec 18, 2023: Appropriate - Hayes Theater
Mar 07, 2024: Doubt - Todd Haimes Theatre
Apr 14, 2024: Lempicka - Longacre Theatre
Apr 17, 2024: The Wiz - Marquis Theatre
Apr 18, 2024: Suffs - Music Box Theatre
Apr 25, 2024: Mother Play - Hayes Theater
Jun 10, 2024: The Drama Desk Awards