"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 June 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.

In his sixteen-year, almost Beckettesque incarnation of a single character, Kelsey Grammer has won numerous Emmys, and the hearts of a grateful nation. He has played the role of Dr. Frasier Crane so devotedly, and with such deft hues and tints of character, that many critics have written him off as little more than a monochromatic savant, the thinking man's Tony Danza. And yet we've always suspected there was more to Grammer than his radio psychiatrist alter-ego allowed him to reveal. His attempts to break free of his small-screen prison have always been promising: better-than-necessary performances in Down Periscope and Toy Story 2, countless memorable vocal characterizations, even a gig as a vanity pundit. It seemed inevitable that, given a bigger canvas on which to project his talents, Grammer would emerge the equal of Olivier, or Branagh, or Selleck.

Thus, Grammer's plan to return to the stage as the star of a Broadway production of Macbeth seemed like a foolproof concept. After all, Grammer has revealed heroic appetites and suffered tragic losses throughout his life. He's seen his family devastated. He's been kicked out of acting school, arrested on drug and alcohol charges, locked up in the slammer, accused of statuatory rape, and beaten by one of his wives. Who better to take on the Bard, and the role of the star-crossed Thane, than the tragic but indomitable Grammer?

Unfortunately, critics called Grammer's performance as Macbeth "curiously muted," "monotonous," and "tall and plump," and the reviews for the play as a whole were even worse. As a consequence, its New York run lasted only ten days.

While an experience like that might have sent a less formidable soul scurrying back to the safer confines of the sitcom universe, the fearless Grammer remains undaunted. When asked if the poor response Macbeth received would dissuade him from future Broadway performances, he answered, "Not at all. I'll cram something else down their throats in another couple of years."

A couple of years? Must we really wait so long? It may be too early for another return to the boards, but there must be some project out there equal to Grammer's genius.

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