Reeves's Hamlet a coup
Keanu Reeves, star of this summer's sleeper hit movie Speed, will switch from rugged cop to brooding prince this winter as Hamlet at the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
And the casting coup is already making for boffo box office. Last year's ticket sales brought in a total of $12 million. Half way into this season's sales, Canada's oldest regional theatre has already reached that mark with new subscribers from as far away as Australia.
Reeves has built a legion of devoted fans willing to buy season tickets to six plays just to see him in one. Most are donating the rest of their tickets to charitable groups suggested by the theatre centre.
The production is also an artistic coup for Steven Schipper, the artistic director of the theatre that celebrated its 35th anniversary two years ago.
More than 10 years ago in Toronto, Schipper saw Reeves at an audition and was impressed then with the raw talent of the now 29-year-old actor. So he spent seven months convincing the star of such films as My Own Private Idaho and Rivers' Edge to come to Winnipeg.
He started with a director he knew Reeves would respect, Toronto's Lewis Baumander, and was helped by the solid reputation the Manitoba Theatre Centre has built in the theatre community.