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Mad King George has colonial debut with British troupe


The National Theatre of Britain's production of Alan Bennett's "The Madness of George III," starring Nigel Hawthorne in his award-winning role, will open the season at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, Managing Director Hope Quackenbush has announced.

"George III," which played a sold-out, year-long run in London last season, will be presented at the Mechanic from Oct. 12 to 31 -- the longest run in a limited eight-week U.S. engagement.

"This is very, very thrilling, especially the historic value of it -- for us to share in this performance and also in the history of what was going on at the throne when we were dumping tea and fighting the revolution," Quackenbush said.

Hawthorne won a Tony Award for his last appearance in the United States, in the 1991 Broadway production of "Shadowlands," in which he portrayed writer C. S. Lewis.

His George III won the 1992 Olivier Award, which is the British equivalent of the Tony.

London's Mail on Sunday described it as "the performance of his life."

The Sunday Telegraph wrote, "Nigel Hawthorne gives a magnificent performance as the king -- the kind of performance that is going to be talked about for years."

Although many historians hold that George III lost America and his mind, modern medical research has revealed that the monarch suffered from a hereditary metabolic imbalance called porphyria.

Bennett's play, which has a supporting cast of two dozen, is directed by Nicholas Hytner, best known in this country as the director of "Miss Saigon."

"The Madness of George III" will be presented for one week in Stamford, Conn., and two weeks at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music before coming to Baltimore.

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