Cyndy Smith-English

My few brief minutes with Christopher Plummer

After the great film and stage actor's death at 91, veteran Portland actor Tobias Andersen remembers talking about Prospero with Plummer

Editor’s note: On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6, the day after the great actor Christopher Plummer died at age 91 at his home in Connecticut, the veteran Portland actor and director Tobias Andersen sent an email remembering his own meeting with Plummer in 2010, when Plummer was starring as Prospero at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Andersen was preparing to take on the same legendary role at Clackamas Repertory Theatre in Oregon. We asked Andersen if we could share his story with ArtsWatch readers, and he kindly agreed.


By TOBIAS ANDERSEN


One heckuvan actor died yesterday.  A gracious gentleman, Christopher Plummer.

When David Smith-English and I were kicking around thoughts about our upcoming production of The Tempest at Clackamas Rep in 2010, a New York Times review made us realize that the last great classical actor of our generation, Christopher Plummer, had just opened as Prospero at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario.  We scrambled for tickets, plane reservations, a hotel, and got it all done in time for us to be in Canada ten days later.

I wrote to Mr. Plummer, not expecting any reply but didn’t think it hurt to mention that we were about to start rehearsals for The Tempest, that I was playing Prospero, and we would love to meet him afterwards, if possible.  Nothing ventured.

After our flight, checking in, dinner, all that – we were at the theater where I sent another note backstage, saying we are in the audience.  We had excellent seats, audience right.  

The Filipina actor Soelistyo as Ariel, with Christopher Plummer as Prospero, in the 2010 Stratford production of “The Tempest.” The photo is from Andersen’s copy of the show program. Of Soelistyo’s Ariel, Andersen comments: “She entered the stage, face down, from the ceiling along a 36-foot wire. You had to be there.”

I’ll only mention this about the production – it was terrific, particularly Plummer’s intensely moving Prospero along with the most astounding (four foot, blue) Ariel I have ever seen.  A shipwrecked grand piano, half buried in the sand, was the focal point of the setting.

Continues…

 
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