Introduction: Throughout the course of 2006, I've had many incredible opportunities to see some of the best actors, singers and dancers of our time perform live on the stage. Rather than recap the best shows of the year (which I'll do at the close of the 2006-07 Theatrical Season), I'm devoting the last six days of the calendar year to those live performances that have stayed with me throughout the year.
Yesterday, I weighed in on Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett's directorial debut in Sydney. But earlier this year, I was thrilled to see her actually perform live in her celebrated, luminous turn as Hedda Gabler at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. There are few actresses today who have the presence and versatility that Blanchett possesses, and it shows in virtually every role she takes on, making each her own brilliant creation.
Here's what I had to say about Blanchett's performance earlier this year:
Here's toasting you, Cate Blanchett, and wishing you and Andrew Upton all the best as you embark on an exciting new chapter for the Sydney Theatre Company!
In the troubled and tragic title role, the exquisite Cate Blanchett commanded the stage with a forceful range of exhilarating emotions going from luminescent to fiery. While Julia Roberts is currently the hottest ticket on Broadway, movie star gazers would have been wise a couple months ago to hop on the number 2 train from Manhattan to Brooklyn where the year’s most exceptional acting was in full bloom.
This adaptation commenced with Hedda pondering her self-inflicted boredom from her ill-conceived marriage, brooding at marrying beneath her aristocratic position. Yet the play quickly picked up a head of steam that didn’t quit until the final gunshot. Blanchett was at her wicked best when rolling over Justine Clarke’s Thea for the affections of Ejlert (poignantly portrayed by Aden Young) or when going head-to-head with Hugo Weaving -- whose riveting portrayal of Judge Brack proved the only character capable of seeing through, yet aiding, Hedda’s manipulative mayhem.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Reunion / A Kind Of Alaska (The SOB Reviews) - Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (December 29, 2006)
Artistic Differences Celebrated: Blanchett & Upton Take Over Sydney Theatre Company (November 22, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (Brooklyn Academy of Music – Harvey Theatre, New York, NY) (May 25, 2006)