Tuesday 25 July 2017

Neeson takes over Burton's narrator role for 'War of the Worlds' arena tour

Liam Neeson poses prior to the press conference to announce the 2012 European tour of the musical 'War Of The
Worlds: The New Generation' at the One Marylebone theatre in London yesterday. Photo: GARETH CATTERMOLE/GETTY IMAGES
Liam Neeson poses prior to the press conference to announce the 2012 European tour of the musical 'War Of The Worlds: The New Generation' at the One Marylebone theatre in London yesterday. Photo: GARETH CATTERMOLE/GETTY IMAGES

Albertina Lloyd and Mark Hilliard

HOLLYWOOD star Liam Neeson is to take over from the late Richard Burton as narrator of the stage version of hit musical 'The War of the Worlds'.

The 'Schindler's List' and 'Star Wars' actor will appear as a full-body 3D hologram during the show, which will begin an arena tour in a year's time.

But he confessed that when he listens back to the recording of his role as journalist George Herbert, he still hears the voice of Mr Burton in his mind.

Welsh star Mr Burton took the narrating role on the famous 'War of the Worlds' album created by composer Jeff Wayne in 1978. And his recordings were used when the production was first adapted to the stage.

Ballymena-born actor Mr Neeson -- also the voice of Aslan in the 'Chronicles of Narnia' films -- said: "I can still hear his voice now."

He added: "I was very flattered to be offered the role. I loved Richard Burton and I loved his voice."

A new double album, 'The War of the Worlds: The New Generation', will be released in June 2012, followed by an arena tour beginning in December, featuring an 11ft hologram of Mr Neeson's head and a full-body version which will interact on stage with the show's live performers.

However, he will not join the singing. He laughed: "I don't sing, no. Only in the bath."

Meanwhile, Mr Neeson and fellow Irish actor Gabriel Byrne are behind a hard-hitting anti church abuse play due to open in New York next month.

The two Hollywood stars have agreed to produce the US version of Dublin artist Mannix Flynn's cutting edge 'James X' play, and Mr Byrne will also take on the role of director.

"This will help bring a dark story out into the light with substantial weight behind it," Mr Flynn said yesterday. The deal with the stars was signed earlier this week.

'James X', which was first produced in 2003, is a one-man show, whose central character is about to give testimony to a commission investigating the church.

While he waits, he is handed a file that turns out to represent a skewed view of him held by the church and civil authorities.

"They (Mr Byrne and Mr Neeson) are keen to get involved because this is literary theatre and it represents their view on the issue," said Mr Flynn of his new partnership.

'James X' will appear for 14 nights at the popular Culture Project in New York.

Irish Independent

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