The Broadway producers of Alan Cumming’s one-man Macbeth are taking no chances with the so-called curse connected to the play, posting a sign on the front doors of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the show’s New York home, asking the audience to refrain from mentioning the title while in the venue.
The sign – in capital letters – reads: “Warning! You are about to enter the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The producers ask that you please refrain from speaking the name of the play you are about to see while inside these walls”.
The production, originating at the National Theatre of Scotland and which was seen in New York last year as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, is scheduled to open on Broadway on April 21. Direction is by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, scenic and costume design by Merle Hensel, lighting design by Natasha Chivers, sound design by Fergus O’Hare and video projection design by Ian William Galloway. Incidental music is by Max Richter.
According to theatrical legend, the mere mention of the title of the Shakespeare work while within a theatre is an open invitation to disaster. Numerous production of the play over the years have been beset with problems and accidents, ranging from the time Laurence Olivier was nearly killed during a performance at the Old Vic in 1937 when a 25 pound stage weight came crashing down right where he had been sitting a few moments before, to a 1953 production in Bermuda where Charlton Heston suffered severe burns on his legs and groin because the tights he was wearing had somehow been dipped in kerosene.
Macbeth marks Alan Cumming’s first time on Broadway since his appearance there in a 2006 revival of The Threepenny Opera.