by Kevin Prokosh
"This bodes some strange eruption in our state" - Horatio after seeing a ghost in the opening moments of Hamlet.
The strange eruption in Winnipeg this week is being ignited by the long awaited arrival to this city of movie star-cum-thespian Keanu Reeves. Don't bet against this town going Keanu-krazy over the 30 year old Californian, especially all those 15-25 year old Speed freaks! No actor's presence here in recent memory has caused such a stir.
Reeves begins rehearsals Monday as the Prince of Denmark in the Manitoba Theatre Center production of Hamlet opening Jan 12. The play's three week run is virtually sold out. He takes on acting's ultimate role in a tale of murder, guilt, madness, and revenge, which pretty well describes the plot of his breakthrough flick, Speed.
A year ago when Reeves first agreed to play the melancholy Dane, he thought he could escape the probing paparazzi and come her to do a low profile, risky turn on stage while fulfilling a personal lifelong dream. The success of this summer's action thriller "Speed" dashed all hopes that his performance at MTC would only be of local interest.
More than 400 Keanu-maniacs from as far away as Australia, China, Japan, Sweden and Germany shelled out $170 for MTC season subscriptions, ensuring that they will see Reeves utter "To be or not to be" in the flesh.
A sure sign of international facination with the hearthrob's latest project is the interest of such diverse media outlets as the establishment British newspaper, The Observer and the tacky American tabloid TV show A Current Affair, both of which have contacted MTC.
Hamlet director, Lewis Baumander of Toronto has been approached by the National Enquirer, TV's Inside Edition and Entertainment Weekly.
The intense attraction of doing a story on the Los Angeles based Reeves boosting his chops as Hamlet cooled substantially when the actor's management nixed all interview requests.
He has agreed to speak tomorrow for ten minutes each with six members of the Winnipeg media including the Free Press.
Evelyn Mallo of A Current Affair said the show is interested in Reeves but no decision on bringing a crew to Winnipeg has been made. Lesley O' Toole, a Los Angeles based writer for publications in England and Australia, is still considering coming to Winnipeg. She met Reeves recently in LA and says he is definitely Hamlet strung. "He's so nervous over Hamlet, he can't think of anything else" she said over the phone from California. "I think he's really beginning to wonder what he's taken on."
Reeves will try to maintain a low profile during his eight week stay in Winnipeg. MTC is tight lipped about when he is arriving and where he will be lodged. MTC's out of town actors are often put up in an apartment in the Holiday Towers, which is home for puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, the star of the Warehouse production of Tinka's New Dress, but it's likely that Reeves will be billeted in more upscale digs, as was Toronto actress Seana McKenna who earlier this year lived in a chic condo in the Ashtown Warehouse not far from MTC. Security, usually minimal at MTC, will be tightened. No one is saying whether or not Reeves will warrant bodyguards, although hired muscle is not Reeves' style. Neither are limousines, but that could change if he is harrassed by tenacious fans.
Despite his status as a rising power in film, Reeves has made none of the outrageous demands associated with other pop culture icons such as rock stars.
Picture caption: "Spotted Reeves yet? Give us a call...... if you see Keanu out and about in Winnipeg, don't keep it a secret, call the Keanu Hotline -- 697-7368 and leave the details with your own name and phone number."