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Anne Hathaway Returns To The Stage In ‘Grounded’

Bridget McCarthy ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Academy Award-winner and renowned Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway will star in the Public Theatre’s production of George Brant’s Grounded. Hathaway’s 70-minute monologue is the entire duration of this powerful one-woman Off-Broadway show.

Grounded follows the life of Anne’s character as a fighter pilot in the Middle East. When the dedicated army woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, the solo show continues to depict the female struggle between motherhood and identity.

When she gets the chance to return to work after having her child, the career is no longer the sky-high hands-on endeavor she connected with. Instead of flying over Iraq, she must now pilot a drone over an unarmed country while she is actually miles away at a base in Las Vegas.

The story contains many layers from the emotional level of feminist issues to the national platform of whether or not drone usage dehumanizes the process and victims of war. Hathaway has a huge undertaking with the role, but history shows she will come out on top.

Hathaway is known as many characters. First there’s the frizzy-haired Mia, who finds out at the age of 16 that she is not only a Princess, but also Julie Andrews’ granddaughter, (bonus points!) Then there’s the sleek and sexy Selina Kyle, better known to the general public as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. But who could forget when she stole the show with a character-driven portrayal of one of theatre’s favorite roles, Fantine in Les Miserables, which she of course won the well-deserved Oscar for.

Despite an impressive credit list on the silver screen, Hathaway does not just shine in film alone. She played Viola in an Off-Broadway production of Twelfth Night in 2009, a performance that made her a Drama Desk Award nominee. She may not have a laundry list of stage credits however; it helps that she will be working with Broadway vets in Grounded.

Director Julie Taymor is an Academy-Award nominee and has two Tony’s under her belt. In 1997 Taymor took on a seemingly impossible job in her direction of Disney’s The Lion King. Critics assumed the musical would be a flop, because no one could see how this classic Disney animated movie about animals could adapt to the stage in a way that wasn’t kitsch. Taymor managed to ignore the skeptics, and through her visionary direction and costume design, (which she took home the two Tony Awards for,) a classic Broadway-hit was born.

However, Taymor never reached the same success with the infamous Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, as she was ultimately removed from her directing position. Surely that will provide the determined director with even more drive for Grounded to triumph.

Hathaway and Taymor seem like they will make a perfect match, considering each woman prides herself on mixing cinema with the stage. Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, and Alan Cumming, was a movie made under Taymor’s direction in 1999 based off the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus. In the arts community, it’s been widely debated what exactly is the ‘correct’ way to integrate live theatre into film and vise-versa.

When asked about how she managed to adapt the Shakespearean classic to the screen during a Q&A at Colombia University, Taymor answered “I use cinematic things in a theatrical way on stage, and in film I use theatrical techniques in a cinematic way.”

Much like Taymor, Hathaway is also no stranger to mixing theatre and film, but from an actress’ perspective instead of a director’s. In an interview with Black Tree TV Hathaway also discussed the high difficulty level she faced while filming Les Miserables as she took the famous stage character Fantine to a different medium entirely. After seeing a New York crowd applaud at a screening of the classic musical turned movie, Hathaway commented on the “strength” of New York as a “theatre community,” and expressed a great appreciation for the sophistication the city provides to the world of the stage and the art of acting.

Hathaway says, “to get the respect of a New York theatre-going audience definitely means a lot.” Hopefully that mutual respect for the New York stage only grows during her production of Grounded.

Tickets for Grounded go on sale to the general public February 12, and performances will begin April 7 in the Anspacher Theatre in NYC. It will open officially April 23 and stay there through May 17.  With such a limited run, this will surely be the hottest ticket in town.

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