Kevin Spacey begins his run as the deranged titular king in "Richard III" tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Directed by Sam Mendes, the play reunites the actor and director, who previously worked together on "American Beauty," a film that earned them both Academy Awards.
"Richard III" is the final production in The Bridge Project, a collaboration between BAM, The Old Vic and Neal Street theaters that launched in 2009 with Mendes' staging of "The Winter's Tale" and "The Cherry Orchard," and continued in 2010 with "As You Like It" and "The Tempest," also by Mendes.
"Richard III" completed its run at The Old Vic in 2011 and embarked on an international tour later that year, including stops in Hong Kong, Istanbul, Beijing, Sydney, Doha and San Francisco.
The play has received solid reviews abroad -- Michael Billington at the Guardian called it "a beautifully clear, coherent modern-dress production," and praised Spacey's "subtle variations" on the title role. Charles Spencer at the Telegraph commended Spacey's "often electrifying performance," but notes, "you never feel as you do with the truly great Richard IIIs that Spacey is exposing something dark and dangerous that he has discovered within himself."
Previous stage performances of Richard III have invited an eclectic mix of actors over the years, inlcuding John Barrymore, Alec Guinness, Ian McKellen, Kenneth Branagh, Laurence Olivier (on stage and more memorably in film), Peter Dinklage and Al Pacino.
Spacey also pulls ranks as artistic director at the Old Vic, where he both acts and directs. He played C.K. Dexter in "The Philadelphia Story" in 2005 (a role immortalized in film by Cary Grant), directed Richard Dreyfuss in Joe Sutton's "Complicit" in 2009, and acted in a revival of "Inherit the Wind" that same year. In 2006, Spacey's management skills were called into question after a disastrous production of "Resurrection Blues," a star-heavy production that closed early after earning dismal reviews.
As for Mendes, he's currently at work on TV movie versions of "Richard II" and "Henry IV." It was previously announced that he would direct a film version of George Eliot's "Middlemarch," but there's no word on what stage the project is currently in.
"Richard III" runs at BAM from Jan. 10 to Mar. 4. For showtimes and ticket prices, go here.