Like a hatchet through a flimsy wooden door, Stephen King‘s masterpiece The Shining is busting into the West End with a new stage production. Deadline has the exclusive that daring theatre director Ivo van Hove, who’s already turned such film classics as Network and All About Eve into smashingly successful plays, has now set his sights on the descent into madness within the Overlook Hotel for a curtain-raising in 2023.
The Deadline piece lets slip that Ben Stiller is currently in negotiations to take on the lead role of Jack Torrance, the man made a dull boy by all work and no play in Jack Nicholson‘s immortal performance from the Stanley Kubrick-directed 1980 film. But van Hove has indicated that he plans on adhering more closely to the original novel than the often-diverging movie, and Stiller’s tetchy, neurotic energy could be part of that. That, or he could just be going against type.
But the question remains of which actors – let’s be real, movie stars, just take a look at van Hove’s casting record – will join him in what’s already guaranteed to be the theater event of the season. One role is placed easily enough: possessed moppet Danny Torrance would be an ideal gig for Woody Norman, a sweet-faced child revealed in the recent C’mon C’mon to be perfectly capable of saying disturbing things with plausible conviction.
But the real riddle is who will be the Wendy to Stiller’s Jack, the wife fending off his attacks as he succumbs to insanity within the icy woods. My vote? Rosamund Pike, an experienced board-treader (she’s done Tennessee Williams on the West End and appeared in Gas Light at the Old Vic) who’d bring a sturdier edge to the fearful, waifish Wendy. Also, for what it’s worth, the age differential between her and Stiller is exactly the same as between Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, if the whole ‘writer with a younger wife’ angle is integral to the text.
As the major roles go, that leaves the Overlook’s head chef Dick Halloran, memorably portrayed by an eerie Scatman Crothers in Kubrick’s take. Why not go older and tap Broadway legend André de Shields, a Tony-winner for the musical Hadestown, which also tasked him with channeling sinister energies from a supernatural plane?
However the chips may fall, this is pre-assured as the marquee project in the theatre world’s near future, and actors will be climbing over each other for a shot. If it’s a success, it could very well play in a touring company… forever.
Published 22 Mar 2022
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