Ernest Thesiger as the First Witch

Piccadilly Theatre, London

July 8 - October 10, 1942

109 perf


“It is Shakespeare done in the grand manner with a cast so rich in stars that one of our most distinguished actors, Mr. Ernest Thesiger, a newcomer to the company, takes the small part of the First Witch.”             

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, July 10, 1942

“He played the first Witch for me in Macbeth during 1942, and was very effective and uncanny in the part.”

John Gielgud, Distinguished Company

Ernest, center, with Dorothy Green, left, and Annie Esmond, right, as the Weird Sisters.

Theatre World, September, 1942

This production of “Macbeth,” produced by and starring John Gielgud, is notorious for being particularly cursed. The story has become exaggerated over time, as this typical example demonstrates: “A 1942 production starring John Gielgud holds the record for most misfortune. Three actors died during its run, and the costume designer killed himself right after the premiere.”  Here are the facts as accurately as can be determined:  The first Duncan, Marcus Barron, suffered an attack of angina and had to quit the production. He was replaced by Nicholas Hannen.  Milton Rosmer, cast as Macduff, fell ill and was replaced by Francis Lister.  One of the Weird Sisters, Beatrix Fielden-Kay, died in Manchester during the tour and was replaced by Dorothy Green.  Ernest was brought in to replace the First Witch, Jean Cadell, when she left the production.  The Piccadilly Theatre was severely damaged by a German bomb.  The production designer, John Minton, committed suicide in 1957.

The Sketch, July 29, 1942

Sketch by Tom Titt for The Tatler, July 22, 1942