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Two Canadian actors are headlining the revival of Noël Coward’s play, ‘Private Lives.’ Many people know Kim Cattrall, and rightly so; plenty are familiar with Paul Gross, though some might forget the name. Most who have watched him have met his most famous character, Constable Benton Fraser, in ‘Due South,’ 1997-99.
The show ran for only two seasons, but it has developed a loyal following either side of the border with the USA. The character is the epitome of what many Canadians – and foreigners – see as the perfect police officer. Fraser is a noble, intelligent, courteous, very straight person who, as the old saying of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police claimed, “always gets his man.”
Mr. Gross was acting this character, certainly, but he presents a more realistic version of that man: he is also intelligent, modest, courteous, and humble, but he seems more roguish than noble. Moreover, he is funny – intentionally so – and self-deprecating. He also shares a trait with only a few other actors: he is multi-talented.
In addition to the role that made him famous beyond Canadian borders, Mr. Gross has turned in some memorable performances in such TV fare as ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City’ (1993); ‘Slings & Arrows’ (2003-06); and TV films ‘H2O’ (2004) and its sequel, ‘The Trojan Horse’ (2008). There are also a few films: ‘Whale Music’ (1994); ‘Men with Brooms’ (2002); and ‘Passchendaele’ (2008), for example.
He not only acted in these, but he wrote many of them. Mr. Gross has written a number of TV episodes and several films; he has written and acted in a few stage-plays too –’Private Lives’ is his acting credit, with Mr. Coward as writer. His repertoire also boasts several Shakespeare plays, including ‘Hamlet’ in 2000.
It is an accomplishment to succeed as a screen actor; it is arguably more impressive to survive the ‘slings & arrows’ of theatre –a very good series on that very subject. Some actors become directors and/or producers: Mr. Gross has done these as well. Some venture into music: here, too, he has received accolades as a song-writer and a singer – he also plays guitar.
He has written and sung songs in episodes of ‘Due South,’ and in the film ‘Men with Brooms’ which he also co-wrote and for which he composed some of the music. He is very much a capable member of a small group of multi-talented people, and worth a closer look.
‘Private Lives’ has just completed a run in Toronto, Canada, with favourable reviews from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) among others. It opened November 17 at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre in New York and runs through to February 5.
Imgae Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/vagueonthehow/