Friday, April 7, 2006


"Wish-Craft" is a term that was coined for 'Bewitched'; it was Tabitha's attempt to say "witchcraft".

I use it to denote those "What If?" stories; things I'd like to see happen in Toobworld, but which I know will never be. But then I'll never grow out of the pleasure to be found in playing "Let's Pretend".

I've read that a third season for 'Slings & Arrows' is planned. For all I know, it's probably already being filmed. At the very least, Susan Coyne, Bob Martin, and Mark McKinney must have the scripts for the next six episodes already written.

Supposedly, the play around which the action will be centered will be "King Lear". (The first season revolved around "Hamlet"; and the second season was primarily about "MacBeth", but also used "Romeo And Juliet" in the secondary plotline.)

Based on the characters we've met in the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival, it's my belief that they don't have anybody with the age and gravitas to take on the role of Lear. Brian Cabot (as played by Leon Pownall) might come the closest, but I think he'd be better suited for playing Goucester.

More than likely this will be a great set-up for bringing in an established actor - played by a known actor - to play the role. This happened last season when Henry Breedlove (as played by Geraint Wyn Davies, best known below the border in 'Forever Knight') came on board to play the lead in the Scottish play.

(In the first season, movie star Jack Crewes was brought in play the Danish prince. He was played by Luke Kirby. TV blog compadre Brent McKee might be able to tell me if he's considered a big name up there in Canada, but I never heard of him before. His Ophelia, Kate McNab, was played by Rachel McAdams and she's gone on to become a star in Hollywood.)

It's not enough to bring in a guest star who can handle the dramatic passion in the role of Lear; that guest star must also be capable of handling the humor needed for the role of the actor for all of the disfunctional comedy to be found backstage. Add to that a basic requirement that the guest star himself should carry the weight of his own age and probably be considered a legend in show business by this point in his career.

Age, gravitas, a comedic light touch..... So I have a Real World suggestion for the role -

Dick Van Dyke.

Now this wouldn't be a Toobworld Wish-Craft if I didn't carry the suggestion to its extreme.

It's not enough for my purposes just to snare Mr. Van Dyke for the role of the actor to play "King Lear". I'd also like to see him appear as Dick Burgess, his character in the very short-lived 1988 sitcom, 'The Van Dyke Show'.

'The Van Dyke Show' centered around Burgess, a former Broadway star who spent the last several decades on the road, either in the road-show productions of Broadway hits, or on the straw-hat summer circuit.

But by the time the sitcom began, he decided to settle down near his son Matt (played by his real-life son, Barry Van Dyke) in the town of Arley, Pennsylvania, where Matt ran a small community theater. By this point in their lives, Father and Son were basically strangers to each other due to Dick's life on the road, and I suppose that was meant to provide the comedic grist for the sitcom's mill.

Well, it's been almost twenty years since that sitcom aired. I would bet that it didn't take too many years before the theatrical wanderlust got into Dick Burgess' blood again. He probably has been crossing the country touring in such shows as a revival of "Baby Fat". (That's the play by Pulitzer-winning playwright Harper Worthington Yates, as seen in an episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. Strother Martin played Yates.)

So why not set his sights north of the border to take on the greatest acting challenge in his career, that of "King Lear" at the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival? It would provide a nice coda to his career so that he might finally return to Arley and his family.

Of course, 'Slings & Arrows' is the type of show that just might add the twist that the actor playing Lear actually does dies on stage in the role in just the right mixture of melancholic drama and wistful humor. And Dick Van Dyke could handle that as well.

Like I said at the beginning, this is just a fancy played out for my own benefit. I doubt they'd even consider bringing Mr. Van Dyke north to work on the show. They probably wouldn't even bother with any actor of note from America when they have so many great theatrical actors already in Canada who could assay the role of "King Lear".

Perhaps Kenneth Welsh......

But for Toobworld purposes, this little blog entry is the stuff that dreams are made of.


"Artists are always ready to sacrifice for Art,
If the price is right
Gomez Addams
'The Addams Family'


Brent McKee said...

I've never heard of Luke Kirby, and his IMDB listing doesn't indicate any Canadian shows I'm really aware of. The big stars of the show was Paul Gross and his wife Martha Burns, but there are a few other familiar names in the cast.

I have a suspicion that the show was at least partially inspired by the summer that Paul Gross spent playing "Hamlet" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario during the run of his series "Due South". (Or maybe Keanu Reeves (!) playing the Melancholy Dane in Winnipeg.) Certainly Startford has seen its share of "mad" actors and creative directors. Shatner played either Hamlet or Romeo at Stratford in the 1950s, and Lorne Greene worked there as well. Hmmm Shatner as Lear....

Toby O'B said...

I'll go with Keanu Reeves as the inspiration for Jack.

1) Jack is also an "action figure" movie star.

2) He came into town riding a bus. Tip of the hat to "Speed"?

Toby O'B said...

I should also point out that I was focusing on characters who were brought into New Burbage, and were not regular members of the repertory company, as Geoff and Ellen (Gross and Burns) are.

So the first season that's Jack and Henry for the second.

Onwards to the third!