7 top West End shows being screened in local cinemas this autumn
- Credit: Archant
Watch anything from Annie to Les Miserable from the comfort of a cinema near you.
During the last ten years cinema has been quietly going through a revolution as dramatic and important as the coming of sound, the introduction of colour photography and the advent of widescreen movies. This is the introduction of live streaming. The beaming of theatre performances direct from West End theatres straight onto cinema screens up and down the country.
This weekend cinemas will be screening the biggest production of 42nd Street ever to grace a London Theatre. Instead of capturing one performance. Multiple cameras were used across three performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to put on screen the full majesty of the all singing, all dancing show.
This is the largest ever staging of the Tony-winning musical, and it tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a talented young performer with stars in her eyes who gets her big break on Broadway and features iconic songs such as 42nd Street, We're In The Money and Lullaby Of Broadway.
This version of the show features West End and EastEnders icon Bonnie Langford as Dorothy Brock. Commenting on the performance Bonnie Langford said: "I'm so proud that this great production is now going to be screened in cinemas, reaching more people across the UK and Ireland than ever before. 42nd Street has been a part of my life since my twenties when I first played Peggy Sawyer and then a whole 25 years later I returned as Dorothy Brock to Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It feels like the perfect conclusion to a joyous run."
In addition to Bonnie Langford, the production stars Emmerdale's Tom Lister (Julian Marsh), Philip Bertioli (Billy Lawlor) and Clare Halse (Peggy Sawyer).
Filmed live at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the critically acclaimed West End revival of Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's 42nd Street will be screened in cinemas across the UK from November 10.
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Other live theatre screenings coming to a cinema screen this autumn:
Timon Of Athens - RSC Live - Wednesday November 20
In a world driven by greed, what do we truly value? Timon has it all - money, influence, friends. But when the money runs out, Timon soon finds her influence and friends have also gone. Left alone, she flees Athens to take refuge in the woods, cursing the city she once loved. Featuring a "searing central performance" (Guardian) from award-winning actor, Kathryn Hunter, Timon of Athens is a glittering and biting satire on whether money truly buys happiness.
Present Laughter - NT Live - Thursday November 28
Matthew Warchus directs Andrew Scott (BBC's Sherlock, Fleabag) in Noël Coward's provocative comedy Present Laughter.
As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour, star actor Garry Essendine's colourful life is in danger of spiralling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry's few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching.
Captured live from The Old Vic in London, Present Laughter is a giddy and surprisingly modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness.
Les Miserables: The Staged Concert - Monday December 2
Seen by over 120 million people worldwide, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world's most popular musicals. Coinciding with its 35th triumphant year in London's glittering West End, Cameron Mackintosh produced a spectacular sell-out staged concert version at the Gielgud Theatre featuring an all-star cast headed by Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Matt Lucas.
Branagh Theatre Live: The Winter's Tale - Wednesday December 4
Shakespeare's timeless tragicomedy of obsession and redemption is reimagined in a new production co-directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, following their triumphant staging of Macbeth in Manchester and Manhattan.
King Leontes appears to have everything: power, wealth, a loving family and friends. But sexual jealousy sets in motion a chain of events with tragic consequences…
The Winter's Tale will star a remarkable group of actors, featuring Judi Dench as Paulina, alongside Tom Bateman (Florizel), Jessie Buckley (Perdita), Hadley Fraser (Polixenes), Miranda Raison (Hermione) and Kenneth Branagh as Leontes.
Coppelia - ROH London Ballet - Tuesday December 10
Toy maker Dr Coppélius seems to have a beautiful young woman in his house: Coppélia, who sits and reads on his balcony. Franz and his fellow young villagers are curious about her and how she ignores them all. Franz's fiancée Swanilda is not pleased by Franz's interest in another woman, but equally curious. When Dr Coppélius goes to the local tavern, the young villagers slip into his house to introduce themselves to the strangely silent young woman.
Nutcracker - ROH London Ballet - Tuesday December 17
Recorded in 2016, this special performance celebrated Peter Wright's 90th birthday, and will be re-broadcast with new features.
Clara is given an enchanted Nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. As midnight strikes, she creeps downstairs to find a magical adventure awaiting her and her Nutcracker.
The magician Drosselmeyer (Suffolk-based dancer Gary Avis) transforms the drawing room for a battle between mice and toy soldiers. During the battle, Clara saves the Nutcracker's life - so breaking a magical spell that turned him from a boy to a toy - and the Mouse King is defeated.
Austin Shaw: The Suffolk man behind live streaming
Live theatre streamed onto the big screen has, over the last ten years, become an important new programming strand for cinemas. It has encouraged a more diverse audience to embrace the joys of big screen entertainment - audiences who, perhaps, like film director Martin Scorsese, are not bowled over by endless superhero movies.
One of the people who has pioneered this theatre-cinema revolution is Sudbury-based, 42nd Street producer Austin Shaw who started life as an accountant before getting involved in film finance, helping to fund Four Weddings and a Funeral, Beatles bio-pic Backbeat and the iconic Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, before joining Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Company where he organised DVD recordings of Cats and Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera before becoming a freelance producer specialising in streaming live theatre.
He said that the joy of live streaming West End theatre into cinemas across the country was the fact it opened up the best of British culture to audiences who, for geographical reasons, couldn't get to the performance or perhaps couldn't afford West End prices, which can be particularly steep if you have to pay for a family to attend.
Live streaming offers people a theatrical experience, including the atmospheric build-up, from the best seats in the house, at a fraction of the price of a West End ticket.
"The first live broadcast I was involved with was the last might of cats at the New London theatre. We filmed that and beamed it onto a giant screen in Covent Garden and we had about 7000 people stand there watching it. It was fantastic. That would have been 2002, before digital cinema even really existed, then as digital projection started to come into cinemas, then things started to take off.
"I suppose it first started to become a regular feature in 2010 with live performances from the Met Opera in New York which was swiftly followed by the National Theatre, here in London.
"The first live broadcast I was involved with was the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis concert from the O2. I believe that it is great to film theatre because not everyone can afford a high-priced ticket but also you have a decent record of some great performances. In the past it was rare to record a theatre production. There are a few but not many and those which do exist are usually made by just one camera locked off at the back of the auditorium. Here we are using six to eight cameras with an experienced director editing all the shots together. It's a good representation of what people are seeing on stage."