Friday, June 29, 2007
William Hutt, 1920-2007
Word reaches us that William Hutt, a mainstay at Canada's Stratford Festival, died on Wednesday. Little known to Boston audiences, Hutt was a legend in the Canadian theatre, playing at Stratford (which I regularly attend) for a staggering 39 seasons and 130 productions, essaying virtually every major role in the repertory. His most famous performances included Prospero, King Lear (he also played a memorable Fool to Peter Ustinov's Lear), and Falstaff; he was also remembered for a hilarious turn in drag as Lady Bracknell in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Perhaps his best recent performance was as James Tyrone in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, opposite Martha Henry; the production is available on DVD. Despite his official retirement, the Stratford Festival had asked Hutt to return for a production of A Delicate Balance this season; he at first accepted, but then withdrew as his health worsened. Hutt can also be seen in the final season of Slings and Arrows, as an actor in declining health who is invited to attempt King Lear one last time - a poignantly fitting capstone to a great career.