Reeves' clout speeds sales of 'Hamlet' tix
by Etan Vlessing
Casting Toronto-born Keanu Reeves, star of the summer hit "Speed," as the gloomy prince in an upcoming stage production of "Hamlet" has provided a boxoffice windfall for a Winnipeg regional theater.
Devoted fans of Reeves from as far away as Argentina and Australia have called the Manitoba Theatre Centre to buy a season subscription package for six productions to be assured of seeing Reeves on stage this winter.
In all, the theater's boxoffice has received calls from 80 cities -- 50 of them in the United States.
Commenting Tuesday on the surge in ticket sales at the theater, publicist Blair Cosgrove said: "We're well ahead last year at this point, or any previous year for that matter."
She added that many of the overseas ticket buyers have taken up the option of donating the bulk of the season ticket cost -- ranging from CAN$ 55 ($ 40) to CAN$ 165 ($ 120) -- to charitable groups before journeying to Winnipeg to see Reeves in his performance. Reeves, 29, first came to the attention of Manitoba Theatre Centre artistic director Steven Schipper at an audition 10 years ago. It took seven months for Schipper to get the Canadian actor to agree to appear in "Hamlet."
A turning point came when Toronto director Lewis Baumander, whom Reeves respects, was brought on board.
Reeves was in Toronto in the spring to film "Johnny Mnemonic," a CAN$ 30 million ($ 21.8 million) feature film from Alliance Communications.