World-class theater performances coming to a theater near you

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 10, 2011 


"Frankenstein" will be broadcast by NT Live from the Olivier Theatre in London to movie theaters worldwide on March 17, 2011. Here, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Victor Frankenstein.

HANDOUT — Catherine Ashmore/Courtesy National Theatre/MCT)

Ever wanted to visit London and see their world-class theater? Well, you might be able to without even climbing on an airplane.

For the last two years the National Theatre in London has been broadcasting high-definition performances to over 300 theaters as NT Live. Performances are filmed in high-definition and broadcast via satellite to theaters worldwide.

In a rare event, a new play, "Frankenstein" by Nick Dear and based on the Mary Shelly classic novel, will be filmed twice on March 17 with the main actors swapping roles. The two leads, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, will be Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Then, for the second performance, they'll switch parts — Cumberbatch playing the Creature and Miller as Frankenstein.

Cumberbatch is probably best known in the United States for his role in "Sherlock," a modern update on Sherlock Holmes broadcast on cable channel BBC America and PBS. Miller played in season five of Showtime's "Dexter" as well as being in the 1996 film "Trainspotting."

The first performance will be broadcast to U.K. venues and some international sites on the 17th. The second will be broadcast on the 24th. Some theaters will play it on that night or will put it off until later in the spring.

NT Live is not the only theater production to be found in movie houses. Several other opera and orchestras are going high-definition.

This year for the first time, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in a deal with NCM Fathom, will broadcast its concerts to over 450 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.

New York's Metropolitan Opera started broadcasting to movie theaters in December 2006. For the 2009-10 season, 2.4 million tickets were sold in more than 1,200 theaters in 43 countries worldwide.

Aiming directly at a younger generation, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., is "marketing it online through Facebook and Twitter, and trying to get to the younger crowds and demographics," says publicist Lauren McGrath. "We're definitely trying to push that (social media) now. It's the wave of the future."

Another attractive aspect is the cost, McGrath adds: "At $20 a ticket, many younger people can afford to go."



National Theatre Live: For a list of venues and dates of broadcast in the United States and worldwide

Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Live

The Metropolitan Opera in New York

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