British Theater

First Look at Benedict Cumberbatch in Rehearsals for 'Hamlet'

After nearly a year of planning, excitement and record-breaking ticket sales, the time is almost upon us – Benedict Cumberbatch’s production of Hamlet is slated to open this August for a three-month run in London’s West End. And, with opening night nearing, rehearsals for the show are officially underway, and the first photos of the cast have been released.

You can see a full gallery at the Guardian’s website, which includes full details about the production’s various cast members, which include Cirian Hinds as Claudius, Jim Norton as Polonius, Sian Brooke as Ophelia, Anastasia Hill as Gertrude and lots more.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet’ to Screen in Cinemas Worldwide in October

As per usual, Benedict Cumberbatch has been everywhere lately – filming a new Sherlock special, getting cast in a Marvel movie, earning a Best Actor nomination for his turn as Alan Turing. His schedule doesn’t look to be slowing down any in 2015, and one of the most highly anticipated items on his docket is his impending West End turn in Shakespeare’s Hamlet this summer.

The production – which is somewhat highly anticipated by Cumberbatch’s legion of fans worldwide, it seems safe to say – is already the fastest-selling ticket in London theater history. In fact, the entire three-month run, scheduled for August to October of this year, sold out completely in the better part of 24 hours after tickets went onsale to the general public last summer. However, all is not lost if you’re still keen to see the production – a limited number of £10 ($17) tickets will be made available for each performance on the day of the show.

However, for those who don’t fancy a jaunt to London this Fall – or don’t want to risk not snagging a ticket once they get there – don’t fret. You’ll still have the chance to see Cumberbatch take on the Bard’s greatest role for yourself, thanks to the lovely folks at National Theatre Live.

Watch: Martin Freeman Talks Playing Richard III

 

Martin Freeman’s performance as Shakespeare’s Richard III is currently in previews at the Trafalgar Theatre in London, as part of their “Trafalgar Transformed” series. The stage play officially opens this week, and tickets are still available for anyone who fancies a pop across the pond this summer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with your Wars of the Roses, here’s how the story goes: In the aftermath of civil war, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, makes a hateful resolution to claw his way to political power at any cost. A master of manipulation, subtle wit and beguiling charm, he orchestrates his unlawful ascent by spinning a ruthless web of deceit and betrayal. His staunch ambition soon begins to weigh heavy, as the new ruler finds himself utterly alone and steeped in dread, forced to answer for his bloody deeds and face the horrifying consequences. (Keep this handy synopsis in your mind, too, because Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch will also be playing Richard Crookback in the not-too-distant future.)But, even though the story is about manipulation and betrayal and murder, it's not completely dark.

Richard Armitage to Star in ‘The Crucible’ in the West End This Summer

Just in case you weren’t jealous enough of the incredible London theatre scene – where Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are both set to hit the West End playing Shakespeare over the next year – well, here’s another reason.

The Hobbit star Richard Armitage is set to star in director YaÑ'l Farber’s revival of Arthur Miller’s very American masterpiece The Crucible at the Old Vic Theatre this summer.

Armitage, best known these days among mainstream audiences for playing walking glamour shot Thorn Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, should be very familiar to fans of British television, having had (rather dishy) starring roles in MI-5, North and South and Robin Hood. On stage, Armitage has previously performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Duchess of Malfi and Macbeth.

Martin Freeman to Play Shakespeare’s Richard III in London This Summer

Well, it looks like Benedict Cumberbatch won’t be the only member of the Sherlock cast who will be treading the boards of the West End during the show’s hiatus.

It was recently confirmed that Cumberbatch will be performing Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre beginning in August of 2015. And now, hot on the heels of that particular bombshell of awesomeness comes the news that his co-star Martin Freeman has signed up to play the Bard’s doomed king Richard III.

He will join a long list of distinguished actors who have tackled Shakespeare’s villainous hunchback in recent memory, including Mark Rylance, Kevin Spacey and Sir Ian McKellen, among many others.

‘Sherlock’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch Confirmed to Play Hamlet in London Next Fall

Start comparison shopping for flights to London now, Benedict Cumberbatch fans - it looks like that whole rumored production of Hamlet? Not so much a rumor anymore.

In a recent interview with USA Today, the Sherlock star himself confirmed that Hamlet is definitely a go, at some point in the Fall of 2014 in London’s West End. When discussing what his upcoming projects might include, Cumberbatch declared, “I know for certain I'm doing Hamlet sometime in autumn on the London stage.”

“Before that,” he continued, “There are all sorts of film projects flying around, but the one that looks most real at the moment is Lost City of Z with James Gray.”

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, we can all basically start camping out at the British Airways ticket counter immediately. Not really, obviously, as no firm dates, theater location, other cast members or basically any specifics at all have been determined, but still. It’s actually going to happen!

Celebrate 50 Years of the National Theatre with Every British Actor Ever

Well, not quite. But that’s what it feels like.

Britain’s National Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – much like several other British greats, including the Rolling Stones and, of course, Doctor Who. For those that don’t know, the NT is one of the UK’s two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. It presents a varied program, staging everything from Shakespeare and international classic dramas to new and modern works by contemporary playwrights.

Saturday night the BBC ran an all-star gala event in celebration of the British theatrical institution – which has featured many of the UK’s acting greats treading its boards over the years – crossing the half-century mark and it was basically a dream program for anyone who has ever been any sort of fan of British film, television or drama. The celebration featured snippets from some of the NT’s most celebrated plays and musicals from the past fifty years, performed by a wide array of British acting greats. Dame Judi Dench sang Send in the Clowns from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Dame Maggie Smith (one of the six members of the original NT company in 1963) performed a scene from The Beaux Strategem. Dame Helen Mirren did a scene from Mourning Becomes Electra. James Corden reprised his role from One Man, Two Guvnors, Alan Bennett performed Richard Griffith’s famous role from The History Boys. Michael Gambon and Sir Derek Jacobi did a scene from Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land together. Joey, the amazing puppet from War Horse, put in an appearance. And that’s not even close to everyone who participated. All in all, you couldn’t ask for a more magical evening.

Watch a video montage of scenes from the gala’s rehearsals and play spot the famous face as you go.