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Bryan Cranston is set to make his U.K. stage debut, starring as Howard Beale, the role that won Peter Finch a posthumous Academy Award in the 1976 film Network.
Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) penned the new adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning screenplay, a dark satire on the unscrupulous ratings hunger of American network television and the vanishing line between news and entertainment. The on-camera meltdown of evening news anchor Beale becomes sensational must-see TV when network executives opt to keep him on the air, despite his threat to commit suicide during an upcoming broadcast.
Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film also starred William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Beatrice Straight. It is widely remembered for the classic scene of national discontent in which Beale, at the climax of an impassioned rant, galvanizes angry viewers to go to their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
In-demand director Ivo van Hove will stage the play’s world premiere at the National Theatre in London, beginning performances in November. The Belgian director, a 2016 Tony winner for A View From the Bridge, is currently represented on the National stage with Hedda Gabler, starring Ruth Wilson and Rafe Spall, which wraps its run March 21.
Van Hove is no stranger to stage adaptations of classic movies. He has directed productions based on Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage and Cries and Whispers, John Cassavetes‘ Opening Night and Faces, Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema. He returns to Visconti this summer in a stage version of Obsession starring Jude Law, which is set to run April 19-May 20 at London’s Barbican.
Cranston made his Broadway debut in 2014, playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s political drama All the Way, which won him a Tony Award for best actor in a play. He reprised the part in the HBO TV movie. Cranston’s iconic role as Walter White on Breaking Bad earned him four Primetime Emmys.
Also on the National Theatre slate for 2017, John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Once) in December will direct a new adaptation by Dennis Kelly of Pinocchio, featuring songs and score from the 1940 Disney animated film; Imelda Staunton stars in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical Follies in August; and Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse) will stage a major 25th anniversary revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, beginning performances April 11, with an ensemble cast that includes Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane and Russell Tovey.
Additional casting for Network is to be announced.
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