Glenda Jackson Sets Broadway Return in 'King Lear' (Exclusive)

splash_tonys - THR - H 2018
Heather Hazzan

Fresh off her 2018 Tony win for 'Three Tall Women,' the revered actress will play the title role next spring in a new gender-blind take on the Shakespeare tragedy.

British acting royalty Glenda Jackson has won two Oscars, two Emmys, and this year translated her fifth Tony nomination into a long overdue win for best lead actress in a play for her ferociously intelligent take on the central character in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.

Pundits can now start speculating about her chances of taking home a second Tony next year.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Jackson, 82, will reteam with producer Scott Rudin in the spring to star on Broadway as the title character in William Shakespeare's King Lear.

The role is not new to Jackson, who was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company early in her stage career. She first put her gender-blind stamp on the tragic monarch to great acclaim in 2016 at London's Old Vic under the direction of Deborah Warner with a cast that also included Rhys Ifans, Jane Horrocks and Celia Imrie. That modern-dress production marked Jackson's return to the stage following 23 years as a member of Parliament for Britain's Labour Party.

However, Jackson's second consecutive Broadway run after a 30-year absence will be in an entirely new staging, with a director and fellow cast to be announced in the coming weeks. Given Rudin's track record for drawing top-tier talent to his stage projects, it seems inevitable to predict that major names will be lining up to work with Jackson in such key roles as Lear's daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, the king's beloved Fool, or the loyal Earl of Kent.

"Performing King Lear in London was a wonderful and fulfilling experience, but this is a role you continue to work on and to make new discoveries," said Jackson in a statement. "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to explore the role anew, and look forward to the challenge of performing it on Broadway."

The limited-engagement production will begin previews March 6 ahead of an April 11 official opening at a theater to be announced.

Jackson last Sunday wrapped her sold-out, ecstatically reviewed run in Three Tall Women, starring alongside fellow Tony winner Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill. The Albee drama, produced by Rudin and directed by Joe Mantello, broke the house record at the intimate John Golden Theatre for the fifth time in its final week, pushing the 17-week total to $13.9 million.

The Golden will next house another Rudin-produced revival, Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery, which will star Elaine May, Lucas Hedges, Michael Cera and Joan Allen, marking the Broadway debut of both Hedges and rising-star director Lila Neugebauer (The Wolves). That production begins previews Sept. 25, with an official opening set for Oct. 25.

Also this season, Rudin is teaming with Lincoln Center Theater to co-produce Aaron Sorkin's new stage adaptation of the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird, with Bartlett Sher directing an ensemble cast headed by Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. That production begins previews Nov. 1 for a Dec. 13 opening at the Shubert Theatre, where Rudin's smash revival of Hello, Dolly! concludes its run in August following the return of Bette Midler to her Tony-winning role.

Jackson won best actress Oscars in 1971 for Women in Love and in 1974 for A Touch of Class. She won two Emmy Awards in 1972 for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC/PBS miniseries Elizabeth R.

King Lear was last staged on Broadway in 2004 in a production that starred Christopher Plummer in the title role and landed Tony nominations for best play revival and best actor.