On the heels of the reveal that Sam Mendes will direct the new Jack Thorne-penned play The Motive and the Cue, Playbill takes a look back at the historic 1964 revival of Hamlet that inspired the upcoming work.
Colloquially referred to often as Richard Burton's Hamlet, the Broadway revival of Shakespeare's tragedy was mounted at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It opened April 9, 1964, and played 137 performances before closing August 8, 1964. The landmark revival was directed by noted Shakespeare actor John Gielgud.
The production was considered a commercial success, in part due to the celebrity nature of Richard Burton and his recent marriage to Elizabeth Taylor during the show's out-of-town Toronto tryout. Burton earned a Tony nomination, but Hume Cronyn won Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Polonius. The revival earned no other Tony nominations or awards.
The cast also featured Eileen Herlie as Queen Gertrude, who reprised the role after playing Hamlet's mother in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film adaptation, Linda Marsh as Ophelia, and Alfred Drake as King Claudius. John Gielgud directed the production.
Inspired by Richard Sterne’s John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet and William Redfield’s Letters From an Actor, Thorne's The Motive and the Cue will go behind the raw, rehearsal-like staging of the revival to explore the collaboration between Gielgud, himself a respected Shakespearean actor, and Burton, as well as delving into what happened behind-the-scenes during the production, which was engulfed in attention from the public. It will premiere at London’s National Theatre next spring in a co-production with Neal Street Productions.
Check out more photos of the production below.