Tag Archives: The Old Vic

In spite of disappointment, illness and ill luck, a little laughter in life.

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Unfortunately, due to what has only thus far been described as “unforeseen circumstances,” Richard and his fellow actors weren’t able to perform “The Crucible” Monday night. I really feel for those who missed the performance; some may get another opportunity while others will not. It’s been raining heavily all day in Londontown, which can only have added to a certain feeling of gloom and doom over those who missed their opportunity to see RA perform on stage in this much-heralded production.  Of course, our Richard, class act that he is, popped over to apologize to fans and make their day a lot brighter than it otherwise would have been. When I say “bless RA’s heart,” it’s meant in a completely sincere, non-catty way by this southern girl.

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If it had been me who received such disappointing news, I’d have been shattered. Might have felt like throwing a right ol’ hissy fit, or just curling up in a corner and bawling my eyes out. I guess it brought back memories of a heartbreak I suffered a few summers ago, and I found myself shedding tears tonight for those who had their plans for the evening dashed.

There are friends and acquaintances out there right now around the world who are suffering pain and losses of various kinds, some who are struggling.  I wish I could do more materially for those for whom I care who are in need, whether it’s homeless animals half-starved and dependent on the kindness of strangers after abandonment, or my fellow humans who could truly use a lift.

My dad had a motto: “A little laughter in life.” His own life certainly wasn’t always easy, happy or carefree.  He had bouts of melancholy that sometimes deepened into depression. Still, he loved a good joke, a funny story. Finding laughter helped him through toughest times. As his only biological child, I’ve tried to embrace that motto, too. And I love being around people who know the value, the saving grace, one can find in laughter.

That’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to and intrigued by Richard Armitage.  Compassion, benevolence, a great, lively sense of humor that refrains from mean spiritedness, all the while embracing some much-needed silliness when needed.  I love hearing and seeing him laugh, those full-bodied, from-the-heart guffaws and rather silly giggles, so appealing and endearing.

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Here’s hoping the problems at the Old Vic are sorted out, the weather improves, and Proctor and Company can trod the boards once more.  In the meantime . . .
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Part 1 of Judit’s “Crucible” Odyssey: A Hungarian RA Fan ‘Seizes the Day’

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Part 1 of Judit’s “Crucible” Odyssey: A Hungarian RA Fan ‘Seizes the Day’

Dear friend Judit, aka the Hungarian Honey, was lucky enough to not only see RA perform live as John Proctor in “The Crucible”–she saw him three times, and once from the front row!  Now that she has pretty much regained her equilibrium after meeting HIM she is sharing her experience with us here at TAE in installments.  Now, Part I of Judit’s own “Crucible” story . . . with lots more to come!  Thank you, Judit, for dishing all about your experiences with us. You rock!

 

I know RA had talked about going back to theatre often, but when he moved to NYC I had given up hope that it would happen (yeah, my usual optimistic self taking charge again!), and I thought if it were to happen it would happen on Broadway…

So, I was very sceptical when the rumour first surfaced about him being in talks to star in a play in LONDON!  Especially as the source was the Daily Mail and we all know how reliable they normally are.

 

In any case, a few days after I first read about the rumour, I joined the Old Vic’s “friends” circle (there’s a yearly membership fee in exchange for which you get a tiny discount from ticket prices, you don’t get charged booking fee when booking online, plus you get newsletters and, as it turned out, I also got a Crucible flyer in the post some weeks later). I thought, “I had better be prepared IF the rumours indeed turn out to be true!”

 

And then…all of a sudden there it was–a confirmation of Richard being cast as John Proctor on the Old Vic’s website! Needless to say, the Armitage Army “fell upon the online booking system of the Old Vic like an ocean” (to paraphrase John Proctor!).

 

 

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For the first time ever in my life, I found myself in a virtual/online queue!! I think I was about 300th when I first logged into my account and clicked on ’book a ticket’. Luckily, I had someone to share the excitement with – I phoned Helen in London, so we basically “queued” together, she in London and I in Budapest, watching our respective numbers go down to zero.. There was an awful lot of OMG-ing and exclamations along the lines of “can you believe this is happening??” (all this was made more awkward by the fact that I was at work, and this whole scene was witnessed by our accountant and a student who was doing her work experience with us – good job neither of them speak English!).

Helen and myself decided to go for an early date in the run, as we were afraid that RA might miss some dates later on in the run due to Comic Con in July or ITS premiere in August…

And, we were very lucky to score first row tickets for the 30th June…!

Later on, when I booked my flight tickets to London, I was more and more tempted by the idea that if I was going to spend five days in London, why not go for more than just one performance??

In the end I just couldn’t resist;  I booked a ticket for 27th June and then, yet another for the evening performance of the 28th..

I know it sounds excessive but I was thinking, who knows if I’ll ever have the chance to see RA perform live on stage again?? Why not make the most of my time in London??

Yes, of course he might do another play in a few years’ time- but who knows where I will be then? Whether I’ll still have a job by then? And my health?

 

So I decided to just seize the day–and I went for it!!! Boy am I glad that I did!!!

 

Next chapter:  preparations!  (coming up soon!)

 

Judit, Helen & Richard: “My hands were shaking . . . Helen *did* go a bit gooey”

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Our long-time reader and devoted Armitage admirer Judit has now seen “The Crucible” three times–and says she is still wrapping her head around it all now that she’s back home in Hungary.  Here are a few things she has shared with me, along with photos from her visit to the Old Vic and meeting with the lovely Richard Armitage at the stage door. The photos were taken by another long-time reader and fan, Helen, who shared her thoughts about RA and the performance in a previous post.  Fedoralady just had to do some playing . . . 😉 Oh, and Helen’s back, too. 😀

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Judit in front of one of the posters at the Old Vic holding a program for The Crucible.

 

BELIEVE IT OR NOT . . .

“The weather in London was BEAUTIFUL!! With the exception of Saturday. But even then, the rain stopped by the time we got to the stage door, so we were VERY, VERY lucky. (Even though I read that RA  did stage door on a day when it was raining – bless this man!)”  

ON MEETING RICHARD:

“We may not have been in the presence of true greatness but we certainly were in the presence of genuine, unaffected kindness and sweetness. And he certainly makes me go gooey all over! My hands were shaking for minutes after we left the stage door!  And yes, the poor fellow almost had to double up to fit into the frame with me. And I was wearing heels!!! LOL (which I NEVER do!! Can’t walk in them).  I hope Helen will not mind me saying that she *did* go a bit gooey (maybe not all over! ;)) when he said “bless you” to her in that honey voice of his.”

To which Helen replied:

“Ha ha, Judit, you’ve caught me in my lie! And there I was thinking that I came across as a cool, calm and collected ice maiden!

As already said, in my heart I was convinced that one day I would meet Rich, and it wasn’t just wishful thinking but based on a logic of sorts: he’s always said he wanted to return to the theatre; if he did it was likely that he’d be in a London-based play; if he was in a London-based play there would be a stage door opportunity. And so it happened.

Thus, Monday night was the culmination of six-odd years of anticipation and hope and envy of all those that had already met him. And the “bless you” in honey, with shoulders touching, was electrifying, especially when I fully expected a hoarse raspy voice so soon after the bellowing.

So… six years… so I had a sort-of out-of-body, wtf?, what just happened?? reaction. Poor old Judit had to take me by the elbow and gently guide me to wherever we were supposed to be going – couldn’t tell you, but I think it involved getting some water from somewhere and getting the train from somewhere else.

But by the time we were on the train and body and mind had reunited, I saw the episode for what it was: a charming encounter with a warm-hearted, but very normal gentleman.

And Judit’s hands WERE shaking like you wouldn’t believe!!”

We can believe it, Helen, we can believe it. Thank you for sharing, ladies!

 

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Helen on “The Crucible,” Acting & Meeting Richard: “Shattering . . . Towering . . . Chill”

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Dearest Helen (Wydville) aka my RA Fairy Godmother from London  (I have several of you scattered around the world and bless you all!) got to see our fellow this weekend in The Crucible in one of the preview performances along with dear Judit (aka my Hungarian Honey). I think Judit is still trying to wrap her head around it all . . .  Helen emailed me this morning with her interesting and honest observations and reflections on the overall production, Richard’s performance, the stage door experience and some other thoughts about acting and favorite actors, Shakespeare–and Richard’s feet. She kindly gave me permission to share this with you all.

(Being a writer, I could not resist weighing in myself–my thoughts are bracketed in bold letters while Helen’s words are in italics.)

 

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THE PRODUCTION

Helen:

1. Our seats were, I felt, pretty much the best in the house. We were front row and inches away from the actors [you DO realize how envious we all are of you, don’t you? Thank goodness we all love you around here . . .]

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2. The performance is shattering. I found the direction a little self-indulgent and some of the devices inexplicable, but it is very physical, very powerful, very intense, very atmospheric. I can’t wait to see what the critics make of it. [Me, too! I want to hear from someone other than fans and theatre bloggers . . . eager and anxious all at once!]

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3. All performances are strong. Rich gets increasingly better through the course of the play and in the final scene he is towering, in every sense of the word. I wept.  [feeling a lovely sort of frisson here reading Helen’s words] Standing ovation even before he came back to take his bows.

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4. Fangurls in total minority. Unlike Coriolanus *starring Tom Hiddleston*, vast majority of audience proper theatre-goers. Many middle-aged couples in suits and theatre-going attire. [ah, and these “proper theatre-goers” gave him a proper standing ovation, too. I think this bodes well . . .]

STAGE DOOR

Helen:

Afterwards it was all very low key. Orderly queue at stage door. Everybody beautifully and decorously behaved. [Does anyone else wonder if it would be the same–as mannerly and well-behaved–if this were a NYC audience? Just thinking of some past incidences . . .]

Some of the other actors came out first and a few of us chatted to Jack Ellis who plays Danforth. He was in no hurry and happy to sign autographs and natter for a few minutes.  Judit has seen the play three times and she says each time was like seeing a different play; well, it’s still in preview and Farber is tinkering[ So, will the critics see a substantially different production than the one seen early on by preview audiences? A shorter production?]

 Jack Ellis confirmed this in our chat. Speaking of whom, we just found out this morning that he’s Robin Ellis’ brother! Of course, when I looked him up, I recognised him instantly. He’s one of those actors that’s been in everything but has never made it big time. [FYI Robin Ellis is the original Poldark from the 70’s TV series]

 

When Rich came out, there was no hysteria or giggling. He was clearly in a hurry to get through the autographs and be gone but he was still courteous, sweet and obliging. He just came down the queue signing away, posing for photos, a quick word here and there. His voice is… honey. I said something about “shattering performance” to which he replied, “Aw, thank you; bless you.” It was all so understated and… chill, I suppose. [His legendary “Zen-like calm,” perhaps?]

It’s funny: I’ve waited six years for this and it all felt just so… understated and inevitable. So accessible. No biggie. Rich is no superhero, no wonderman, no awe-inspiring giant; just a big bloke with a sweet nature. The bloke who lives next door.

 

[funny, this is what I’ve said all along. RA himself reminds me of the boy next door. The really nice, polite, hard-working boy next door who is good to his mama and toils away at his chosen profession, which just happens to be a very high-profile one. Oh, and he’s rather good looking and charming, too].

THE MORNING AFTER MEETING THE MAN

Helen:

I don’t feel as if my life has changed… What I think I’m trying to say is, if you ever have the opportunity to meet him, great, it will be sweet, but it’s not as if he’s Nelson Mandela; you won’t have been in the presence of true greatness. And yes, he’s a handsome man, but in the flesh he doesn’t make you go gooey all over! After all these years of anticipation (I always knew I would meet him), it was just… very pleasant. [well, I would say that beats it being a crashing disappointment.]

I’m going back next Monday . . . Don’t know how I managed it but I even have the same seats [Lucky devil!]

Agzy will be there, next to us but one. Maybe Rich won’t be in such a hurry this time and we can exchange a few more words and maybe I shall be able to actually look him in the eyes. Somehow, even though this is what I’d really waited for, it didn’t happen. All too quick.

[Inquiring minds want to know: will looking him in those sparkling baby blues make Helen feel as if she is in “the presence of greatness?” 😉 ]

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE PHYSICAL SPECIMEN HIMSELF

Helen:

One last thing: natural hair colour almost auburn!! Well… chestnut. I bet he was blond as a child. Good arms but losing it very slightly round the midriff. Huge feet but not pretty, I think he’s slightly flat-footed. Very big hands. Generally a big man and bulky around the shoulders and back. Amazing voice and when he shouts….   [I bet people sit up and listen!]

Another thought:

With reference to his Telegraph interview (which, incidentally, I found to be the most thoughtful and insightful one he’s given to date), I have no trouble believing that a genuinely angry Armitage on the rampage would be quite terrifying.
[I totally concur. He’s a big, strapping, strong guy capable of great intensity. I really wouldn’t want to make him angry . . .]

Helen added these thoughts in another email. I really appreciate her inner fangurl striving for objectivity here–and I hope you do, too.

I’m trying to divorce my subjective emotions from impartiality. Let’s face it: Rich is no Ralph Fiennes (more of him later). In the first half he was good; not brilliant, but good.

But I felt he became progressively better in the second half – he owned John Proctor – and by the final scene you could see the torment, indecision, guilt all through his face and body. When he started coming to the realisation that he was about to betray the truth and all those people who had already consciously gone to their deaths you could see the revelation in his face and his eyes: it was a supreme performance.

As I think about it, I believe it was so powerful because he was so still and he does “still” so, so well. [ oh, yes, he does. As observed by Sir Peter, too]

Possibly Farber made him move around too much in the earlier scenes and it was a distraction. He’s such a big man and when he’s on the move, especially aggressively, he overwhelms the tiny stage; it’s almost grotesque. It’s certainly frightening. I found myself pedalling backwards in to my seat more than once.

Coriolanus is one of those plays that doesn’t get too many airings and I was completely unfamiliar with it. Having seen it with Hiddleston I was prompted to watch the Fiennes film. Play: good – if a little too minimalist for me given my prosopagnosia (face blindness) and the doubling up of roles.

Hiddleston’s performance: overall worthy and in some scenes inspired, especially in the “Mother what have you done?” scene. Film: Oh Emm Gee! Stupefying. Fiennes: Astonishing, terrifying; one of the most riveting performances it has ever been my privilege to see. If you haven’t seen it, you must!

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that movement is the key!

 

Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing this amazing experience with us!

 

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Now I’m imagining RA milking cows. New Yahoo interview.

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I have a treat for you later–the thoughtful and candid review by our own Helen (Wydville) after seeing “The Crucible” for the first time and briefly meeting RA last night, along with some of my own thoughts . . . but my wrist situation requires me to give it some rest for now. 

In the meantime, a new interview at yahoo.com about The Crucible with quotes from RA and his director, Yael Farber. Turns out he not only visited Salem in preparation for the role, he worked with some cows. Who knew?

http://news.yahoo.com/richard-armitage-goes-hobbit-crucible-114419500.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain . . . Mr. A is having a wet, hot summer! *squee*

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It’s the Summer of the Armitage! Richard is spending the next couple of months giving audiences an impassioned, impressive performance as the conflicted farmer John Proctor, adulterous husband embroiled in the Salem Witch Trials. I know I have shared this edit of mine before, but I like it so much I’m sharing it again. Hey, the beauty of having one’s own blog.

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So there he goes, setting London on fire . . .  this big, fit, beautiful, bearded man, acting his linen smock off (literally at one point. *heaves sigh*) and using that commanding presence, physicality and voice to enthrall once more.  And then turning up at the stage door to be as sweet and affable and accommodating as always. What a guy!

 

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But we are ALSO getting more Armitage– a contemporary role as the clean-shaven all-American high school assistant principal Gary Morris, a widower caught with his sons in a deadly day of tornadoes in the (long-awaited!) August New Line release, “Into the Storm.”

Serv posted some screencaps earlier from the new trailer, and naturally, I couldn’t resist having some fun with Wet Gary, aka the Hunky Educator Hero in the High-Waisted Slacks. Do you all remember some of those promo stills that came out after they do some additional shooting for the film? When RA’s hair was still a bit longer on top (as compared to how it was cut for principal photography)? I do . . .  hmmmm, Gary must have been blown into some Miracle-Gro at some point (a fertilizer here in the US) and it went to town on his hair. 😉 I am sure most folks won’t even notice.

But I always think of Lucas and his Mysterious Travelling Tattoo . . .

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I’ve been right smack-dab in the middle of a tornado (on the campus of the Alabama School for the Blind) and I’ve taught high school kids. And neither one is a picnic! 😉

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Having been in a tornado, very close to the path of tornadoes and having seen on more than one occasion the deadly toll they can take and massive destruction they can cause, honestly, a twister movie is generally not my first choice in movie viewing.

But this disaster flick has Richard Armitage. Wet. Fatherly. Heroic. Trying out an American accent for the first time in a really measurable amount.  How can I resist??  A good mindless popcorn movie might be just what I need . . .

 

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So, planning to go and see Mr. A in August? What are your thoughts on the trailer? His accent? Did you notice how great Sarah looked even bedraggled? (Curse her!) Eye candy for everyone in this pic–cute teens for the younger set and hunky and hot adults for the rest of us.  As for any of you lucky ducks who will be seeing Mr. A in person in the round at the Old Vic–please let me know about your experience! And now, it’s time to ice the Troublesome Wrist, boys and girls.

 

From Pop-Verse.com: RA delivers “spectacularly strong performance” & some edits

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“Armitage has enough down-to-earth likability mixed with stage presence and an ability to deliver impassioned speeches to deliver a spectacularly strong performance.” 

Megan Leigh, “Theatre Review: The Crucible at the Old Vic”

Read the entire review by clicking on link below. Leigh also offers some history of the theatre and background on Miller’s play, and provides some practical suggestions for audience members in preparing for the event.
**PLEASE NOTE** (I have been advised there are some errors within the review on the background of the play. Thank you, Dr. Servetus)

http://pop-verse.com/2014/06/23/theatre-review-the-crucible-at-the-old-vic/

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That’s a pretty good description of our boy, isn’t it–down-to-earth and likeable, but also graced with stage presence and a real intensity.  That unassuming nature of his also possesses a lot of discipline and focus–and a strong work ethic that, combined with his undeniable talent, translates into these strong performances.

 

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It will be interesting to see what the professional theatre critics have to say about Richard’s performance. Judging by the reactions of preview audience members that I’ve read, including those who aren’t necessarily RA fans, I do think most, if not all, of what will be written will be positive. The entire cast’s performance seems to be highly regarded. I am so happy that Richard is surrounded by such a talented and dedicated group of fellow actors this summer.

Richard & Courtney: Here’s to the ones who inspire and amaze me

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My edits of the promo stills supplied by the Old Vic Theatre.

“The best thing about being on stage is when you’re in the middle of the scene and you lose control. You get this massive adrenaline rush, a feeling like you’re flying or on fire. Once you’ve had that, you want it again and again.”

~Richard Armitage

 

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Courtney touches up her makeup before the final performance of “Hollywood Dreams.” My photo and edit for Pecan Ridge Productions.

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Courtney Rice. My photo.

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Talented trio: Cory Rice, aspiring National Geographic writer, mom Sonya, dancer instructor and choreographer, and Courtney Rice, who dreams of performing on Broadway and participating in film production. My photo.

“It’s not that I have certain roles I like to dance, more so, it’s certain emotional levels I like to go to. The dance, or character, I am, I want it to be very emotionally invested. I want to be able to go to the extremes of hope, hatred, horror, sorrow, excitement! I want the audience to tangibly feel what I am feeling. The vulnerability of going all the way inside of an emotion in front of a crowd is the best feeling ever. So the more extreme of an emotional role, the better!”

~Courtney Rice

Richard, well, you all know who HE is, what he’s about to do–appear as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s acclaimed play “The Crucible” on the stage of no less than the Old Vic Theatre in London.  Some of you will have the golden opportunity to see him perform in person this summer and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences.  Yes, I am still a little envious–but also, I’m extremely excited for Richard, and so happy to know some of those who have followed his career and championed his talent will be there in the audience to lend their support.

His long years of labor and taking whatever jobs came to keep him afloat, driving old beaters, working the front of house, and dreaming of one day having those choice roles–it’s happening now for you, Richard Armitage, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving artist. For that is what you are, a true artist, not a “celebrity,” someone famous for being famous without having any genuine talent to back it up.  I wish I could give you a big old bear hug right about now and tell you, “Break a leg!”

Courtney is a young woman from my own hometown, a very gifted dancer I once profiled in our annual magazine as a rising star among high school students in our area. Even as a teenager, she had a poise and elegance beyond her years. “She’s like a princess,” someone said. And she was.

I got to watch her perform again recently during her mother’s annual dancer recital, a production that would be ambitious on a big city stage, let alone in a small town of less than 8,000 people. She and her sister Cory flew in for the weekend to assist with and perform in the two-night event.  The talented teenager has blossomed into an even better, more refined performer after four years of dance training at university.

Courtney made the move to New York after college graduation in December. She works in an administrative position with the Gibney Dance Company and serves as a nanny to a nine-year-old youngster in Brooklyn. Courtney is still honing her craft, taking dance lessons and working with a group of fellow choreographers in a collective in the limited amount of spare time she has.  This young woman has a strong work ethic. She’s beautiful and talented and graced with such stage presence; yet she remains that polite, sweet, down-to-earth girl I met years ago who calls me “Miss Angie” and gives warm hugs.  Remind you of anyone?

I wish I had stills–better yet, I wish I had the video of her amazing solo to a piece of music from “Harry Potter” I could share with you here, but it’s not ready yet. I told her she sent chills down my spine, but in a very good sort of way.

I hope she gets the breaks and has the career she desires–she’s got the talent and technique, but she’s also got the drive and the passion and it shows in her performances. She’s the real thing, too.

“The vulnerability of going all the way inside of an emotion in front of a crowd is the best feeling ever. So the more extreme of an emotional role, the better!” 

Those words could have easily come from Richard, I think. May he have that “best feeling ever” this weekend and in the weeks to come as he inhabits the complicated role of John Proctor for Old Vic audiences.

Keep on breaking a leg, Courtney and Richard. I’ll be cheering for both of you.  You inspire and amaze me!

 

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YT vid of RA discussing role of John Proctor. Feeling excited now.

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Well, obviously he looks great. Servetus is somewhere drooling over that beard, methinks. Love the stand-up collar on the leather jacket. He sounds wonderful. And it seems John Proctor is a role he really, really wanted to do and now it’s the time. So happy for him getting this opportunity and happy, if slightly envious, of all those who will able to see him in the flesh in this play in London.  *sigh*

Of course, we can’t shorten the character’s name to JP without confusing him with John Portah. Here’s to the second JP–John Proctah!