NT Live

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Hamlet’ as Part of National Theatre Live

Hi guys! I’m back from a two-week trip to the UK, which was wonderful, though now I feel a bit out of the loop as far as entertainment news goes…bear with me while I catch myself and the blog up!

Good news for everyone who isn’t planning a trip to London this Fall – you don’t have to miss out on seeing the biggest theatre ticket of the moment! Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is currently treading the boards in the West End, playing William Shakespeare’s most famous role in Hamlet.

The production is already something of a phenomenon in England – it pretty much instantly became the fastest selling ticket in London theater history and many fans have camped out for hours for the chance to secure one of a handful of coveted reduced-price day tickets. Cumberbatch’s performance has been met with largely positive reviews, and he leads a strong ensemble cast that includes Cirian Hinds as Claudius, Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, Sian Brooke as Ophelia, Jim Norton as Polonius and more.

Get Your First Look at Tom Hiddleston’s ‘Coriolanus’ Which Will Stream to Cinemas Worldwide

Tom Hiddleston, internet darling and star of such fan favorites as The Hollow Crown and the Thor movies, is taking to the stage for his next role. He’ll be starring in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Coriolanus in London, playing the lead role opposite an all-star cast that includes Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss among its ranks.

The West End production is sold out for the duration of its run (the Donmar Warehouse is an infamously small space), but the show will be broadcast worldwide through the National Theatre’s (awesome) NT Live program on January 30. Many international encore dates are set around the world in February, so check your local theaters for exact screenings.

It looks fantastic – and it’s okay if you’re also super jealous of those lucky folks that score tickets in London!

Click through for more details about the show, including a preview and some rehearsal photos.

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.

Watch Helen Mirren Play the Queen Again in The Audience, Broadcast to Cinemas Worldwide

Dame Helen Mirren is famous for many things, but most people (especially in America) probably know her best from her Academy Award-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film The Queen. So it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that when Mirren took up the crown again. reprising her role as the British monarch for a new West End production called The Audience, tickets sold out pretty quickly.

Written by British playwright Peter Morgan – who also wrote the script for The QueenThe Audience centers on the weekly meetings (audiences) given by Queen Elizabeth to her prime ministers, from her accession in 1952 to the present day. These audiences are private and strictly confidential, and the play imagines what those conversations might have been like. Since the Queen has had twelve Prime Ministers thus far during her reign – there are certainly plenty of stories to go around. From Winston Churchill to David Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these meetings differently, and while politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, the Queen remains constant. Mirren won Best Actress at the 2013 Olivier Awards for her performance in this role, which requires her to play Queen Elizabeth both as a fresh-faced twenty-something monarch new come to the throne, an octogenarian with six decades of experience under her belt, and everything in between.

National Theatre Live will be broadcasting the June 13 performance of The Audience live to various cinemas around the world. Many American theaters – who tend not to show the live broadcasts the day they air – are offering encore presentations at various dates in June and July.

Watch a trailer for the production below.

Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth to Stream to Cinemas Worldwide

The upcoming Manchester International Festival production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth has been causing considerable buzz – thanks to its limited run, unusual setting and basically perfect cast. The great Sir Kenneth Branagh will play Macbeth, joined by Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, Merlin's Alexander Vlahos as Malcolm and Coronation Street’s Ray Fearon as Macduff.

Seriously, England gets the best theater. It’s just unfair.

This production marks Branagh’s first Shakespeare performance in over a decade, which seems a bit strange when you remember how well he was once known for Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and that epic four-hour Hamlet. So, it probably comes as no surprise that tickets to this extremely limited run sold out in record time.

Directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh himself, Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ambition and treachery will unfold within the walls of a deconsecrated Manchester church. Seriously. How cool is that? If this were happening anywhere near here, wouldn’t we all be lining up for the chance to see this play? Well, luckily, even though we’re not in Manchester, we don’t have to miss out on this production completely. Read on for details.

Watch the New Trailer for Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein; Encore US Screenings This Summer!

Due to popular demand, director Danny Boyle’s award-winning 2011 production of Frankenstein will return to cinemas worldwide this summer as part of this year’s National Theatre Live program. The play features Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch opposite Jonny Lee Miller (recently tapped to play the lead in CBS’ unfortunate upcoming Holmes adaptation), with the two actors alternating between the roles of the Creature and Victor Frankenstein during every other performance. The pair recently became the first in history to share the Best Actor prize at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards for their work in this production.

As you’ll see in the new trailer – which incorporates actual footage from the show – the play does a tremendous job using creative visuals to tell the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster he creates. If you missed out on seeing this production onstage or when it screened in cinemas last year, I cannot encourage all of you strongly enough to catch it this time around. It’s fantastic. (Personally, I’m partial to the Miller as Frankenstein/Cumberbatch as the Creature set-up, but both versions are brilliant.) Click through to take a look for yourself, and see how to find out screening information near you!