Lately, the internet has been rife with speculation about Richard Armitage’s next theatre project. Much of the talk has him in a London performance of Yaël Farber’s adaptation, Oedipus to Antigone, likely to be staged in 2018. Recent tweets and interviews have added fuel to the fire, and die-hard fans have begun planning trips to England.
However, my sources inform me that, in fact, the next play for Richard Armitage will mount the age-old story as a musical comedy — Oedipus and Antigone Take Manhattan! Armitage is said to be very excited about performing this play on Broadway in late 2017 and has been quoted as saying, “I realized that I could do comedy, first in The Vicar of Dibley, but more recently in Love, Love, Love. And I know that my fans have always wanted to see me reconnect with my musical theatre roots.”
Current casting includes Dawn French as Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife/mother. With the 12-year age difference and Armitage playing 5 years younger than his chronological age, the audience should accept French as having been a young mother to her future husband — and of course fans have been clamouring for years to see a reprise of their on-screen romance. “I can’t wait,” Armitage is rumoured to have said, “to see Dawn splutter and mug for the audience when she realizes that she is actually married to her own son!”
Chloë Grace Moretz will play Antigone, having won audiences’ hearts as Armitage’s daughter in Brain on Fire. While her singing abilities have yet to be proven, sources seem confident that she can pull it off. And her presence is sure to attract a younger crowd. As was the intent with the Shakespeare audiobook adaptions that Armitage has narrated, it is hoped that converting this dark tale into a musical comedy will make the ancient Greek story more palatable for a modern audience.
The first act revolves around Oedipus, king of the pop charts, trying to find out what everyone is hiding from him, with hilarious results! When the truth comes out, Armitage will wear his signature dark sunglasses to signify blindness. Songs will include, “What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s a-Happening” (from Jesus Christ Superstar), “My Woman, My Mother, My Wife” (adapted from the Marty Robbins classic), and The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes”. While this selection will give full range to Armitage’s dramatic talents, the act will finish on an upbeat humourous note with the Monty Python favourite, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.
Act II has Oedipus and Antigone prowling around Manhattan while constantly pursued by paparazzi and will include madcap antics as they try to make enough money to get by in “the city that never sleeps”. They will be joined by their dog, Rex, a Borzoi (Russian wolfhound) made famous during the filming of Oceans 8. Rumour has it that Armitage will be seen on a park bench in Washington Square Park, busking while playing the cello, while Moretz plays the tambourine. Apparently the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive” and Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”, have been licensed for this act.
The most difficult act may be the third, where Moretz could have to carry the play almost by herself. Several other young actors are being recruited to play her siblings, to form a musical group with internal rivalries as they work to climb the charts and rule the airwaves. Encountering other up-and-coming groups, they will decide the outcome through sing-offs, à la the Pitch Perfect movie. “I’m okay with changing the ending,” says the unidentified playwright, “as after all, it’s an adaptation and not a straight retelling.”
While the possibilities sound intriguing, this reporter will hold off on buying tickets to New York until the reports are confirmed. After all, this may just be