Catherine Zeta Jones could revisit legendary Queen Cleopatra romance in musical
HELEN of Troy may have been the face that launched a thousand ships, but Queen Cleopatra was said to have exerted no less an influence.
The story of the Egyptian ruler, who was said to have captivated Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, sparked one of Hollywood's most famous and fiery romances when Afan Valley-born actor Richard Burton starred opposite Liz Taylor in the 1963 big budget epic, Cleopatra.
Now, another of South West Wales's best known actors, Catherine Zeta Jones, says she is keen to play the role in a stage musical version of the historical romance.
The 42-year-old had been set to star in a film version under director Steven Soderbergh, but the project has never got under way.
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But the director's interest in a possible stage production appeals to the Oscar-winner.
Speaking on a US chat show, she said: "I just finished a movie with him (The Bitter Pill) and we have an idea — actually it was for a movie — to play Cleopatra. It's a rock and roll musical movie, but we think it would just be fantastic on Broadway."
Zeta Jones's signing and dancing won her a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Velma Kelly in the 2002 film Chicago. She picked up a 2010 Tony award for her Broadway stage portrayal of Desiree In A Little Night Music.
Rewind the clock and the young Zeta Jones performed with the Hazel Johnson School of Dance at St Alban's Church in Treboeth.
Aged 11 she played the lead in Annie at Swansea's Grand Theatre.
Film and music industry expert Gennaro Castaldo, head of public relations at HMV, said Cleopatra the musical could be a huge success.
He said: "It sounds an ambitious project and not the most obvious subject for a musical but if anyone can help pull it off it would certainly be Catherine Zeta Jones.
"Catherine has a big Hollywood name that would help pull in the theatre goers — not least the all-important American tourists — and, of course, she also has a bit of a canny resemblance to Liz Taylor, so I can well-imagine that she would be a spectacular Cleopatra."
Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, was the most expensive film ever made when it was released in 1963.
It was based on famed beauty Cleopatra VII of Egypt, who was married to her younger brother Ptolemy when Roman general Caesar arrived in Africa, fathering a child with the young queen.
Later, another Roman warlord, the renegade general Antony, would fall in love with her.
He committed suicide and she followed suit, apparently using an asp, in 30BC, leading Egypt to become a province of Rome.
The tragic tale was reprised by the Carry On team in 1964, when Kenneth Williams, playing Caesar, uttered the immortal line: "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"