Ann, Macbeth mark trend of one-person shows on Broadway

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Theater stage door

Back in 1991, Patrick Stewart (yeah, Professor X from "X-Men" and Jean-Luc Picard from "Star Trek: The Next Generation") starred in A Christmas Carol on Broadway, for which he eventually won a Drama Desk Award and Laurence Olivier Award. Here’s the weird thing: he played all 40-plus characters in the show.

If that’s not mind-blowing enough, he also co-produced the show.

As much as I love theater, I am not a performer myself, and just the idea of getting up on stage makes me a little queasy. So I can’t imagine the thought process that goes into being the only person responsible for a play. And then there’s, you know, actually working really hard to pull it all together and having no one else to blame if something goes wrong. Call me crazy, but if I don’t have someone but myself to blame for a failure, then I’m just plain not interested.

Stewart wasn’t the first to do a one-person show, of course; there were many who came before him, including Hal Holbrook, who was a pretty convincing Mark Twain. (I remember my American Literature teacher senior year of high school made my class watch his performance but we were all too busy thinking about, like, prom or whatever high schoolers think about to care. Sorry, Mrs. Seibert!)

Next week Ann will enter previews and, come April, Macbeth makes its Broadway return. Both shows will be acted out by just one person, which is pretty crazy. No, it’s straight up insane, which is probably what makes it simultaneously so delightful.

Holland Taylor, of "Two and a Half Men," will portray legendary Texas governor Ann Richards in Ann. Taylor also wrote the play, to be performed at Vivian Beaumont Theatre. It chronicles the life of Richards, who famously brought some serious feistiness to the 1988 Democratic Convention. I expect it'll be equal parts funny, warm, and moving.

Meanwhile, Alan Cumming will perform every major character in Macbeth come April at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Oddly enough, the play got the green light without producer Ken Davenport even seeing it. But that’s probably because Alan Cumming has done some pretty cool things, like "X2," the sequel to "X-Men" (both of which Patrick Stewart was in — full circle, y’all!). The play will have a limited showing, and I feel like anything that comes with that disclaimer automatically means it'll be so awesome that if it goes on for too long the other plays will be sad and jealous.

Who might you be interested in seeing in a one-person play?

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