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Now is the winter of my excitement: Kevin Spacey to play Richard III on stage!

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Image Credit: Dave M. Benett/Getty ImagesA ticket, a ticket, my kingdom for a ticket! High among the new stage shows I can’t wait to see next season: a transcontinental production of William Shakespeare’s Richard III starring Kevin Spacey, who will reteam with American Beauty director Sam Mendes for the event. According to an announcement today, the show will premiere in February 2012 at Brooklyn’s BAM Harvey Theatre for a limited run, followed by a short tour and a run at London’s Old Vic Theatre from May through August 2012. (The company then plans “a more extensive world tour” from late August through October 2012.)

Spacey, who won a Tony in 1991 for Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, seems particularly well-suited to playing the Machiavellian monarch Richard III. There’s something a little slimy about Spacey in many of his performances, and both his Oscar-winning roles — Roger Kint in The Usual Suspects and Lester Burnham in American Beauty — show what skill he has adapting his physical appearance, bearing, and mannerisms as the part requires. Playing the Bard’s famed hunchback? No problem.

A Spacey-topped Richard III marks a fitting finale to the Bridge Project, an ambitious three-year program overseen by BAM, Mendes’ Neal Street Productions, and the Old Vic (where Spacey has served as artistic director since 2003). Bridge has mounted revivals of classic plays like The Cherry Orchard and The Tempest in both New York and London, with casts that include both American stars (Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton) and British veterans (Rebecca Hall, Stephen Dillane). Anyone else excited about this production, PopWatchers? And what “naked villainy” would you commit to attend a performance?

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