Very smart programming for National Theatre Live to re-release “Frankenstein,” directed by Danny Boyle and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller,” in time for Halloween.
It certainly is creepy, especially when you can see the “Monster’s” eyes (Johnny Lee Miller) in closeups when he realizes he can think and act independently, which you would totally miss in a theater.
Really ugly, but sensitive and emotional, the Monster tries to fit into human society, but is shunned, which leads him to seek revenge against his creator. But he is rejected, essentially, for being different. And that’s scary, given how people who are different, unattractive, physically disabled or had “massive weight gain” are talked about by Presidential candidate Trump who seems to be a role model for many people. It returns to movie theaters beginning Oct. 25.
Cumberbatch also returns in the title role of “Hamlet,” beginning Nov. 15. The Encore Series closes with the international hit “War Horse,” from Dec. 6. The play is much more theatrical and visceral on stage than is the 2011 movie because of the remarkable Handspring Puppet Co., the genius behind “War Horse.” Learn about it in this TED Talk video.
It’s been a busy few weeks for New Jersey theatergoers, and critics, as the 2015-2016 season gets underway with several world premieres.
Openings last week included “Murder for Two” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, the world-premiere of “A Comedy of Tenors” at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, a revival of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, and the world premiere of “Bandstand,” a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.
Patti LuPone has a vocal ally in Benedict Cumberbatch, currently starring in the title role in the West End production of “Hamlet,” who pleaded with fans to turn off their cell phones during performances of Shakespeare’s drama at the Barbican Centre.
“I can see cameras, I can see red lights in the auditorium. And it may not be any of you here that did that but it’s blindingly obvious, like that one there, that little red light,” the NYTimes reported Cumberbatch said to theatergoers who crowded around the stage door during the first days of a limited engagement in London. Its 12-week run ends Oct. 31 and tickets sold out in about seven hours.
Earlier that night he stopped then resumed the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy because saw a “little red light” near the third row during the performance.
National Theatre Live has revealed the plays it will broadcast in venues around the world this Spring and the offerings are tantalizing. It includes the first (of I hope many) Broadway productions — “Of Mice and Men” with James Franco and Chris O’Dowd — and, this fall, Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet.
Also scheduled are the classics “A View From the Bridge” and “Man and Superman,” and new plays by Tom Stoppard and David Hare.”
Benedick Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman won Emmy Awards last night for their performances on “Sherlock.” Neither were on hand to collect the coveted statuettes. Martin is performing the title role in “Richard III” at London’s Trafalgar Studios and unable to attend.
No idea where Cumberbatch, 38, who won for Actor In A Miniseries or Movie, was. Martin, 42, won for Supporting Actor In A Miniseries or Movie for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.”
Co-creator and writer Steven Moffat also won for Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A dramatic Special for “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” winning over Larry Kramer’s script for HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” “Treme,” “Luther,” “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Coven” He had some stiff competition.
But the really good news, depending on how you look at it, were the leaks Moffat and “Sherlock” writer-producer and actor Mark Gatiss (who plays Mycroft on the series) hinted at for season 4:
“We have a plan to top it,” Moffat said. “And I do think our plan is devastating. We’ve practically reduced our cast to tears telling them the plan … we’re probably more excited that we’ve ever been about ‘Sherlock’.”
For more details, including why Moffat never looks at Tumblr, click here.
Jan. 19 seems a long way off. That’s when “Sherlock” returns to American TV as part of the Masterpiece franchise. And before you know it, it will be gone again after three episodes (if past history is future) with another interminable wait for more episodes featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
(So why is his TV show in a theater blog. Because Cumberbatch is a regular on the English stage and is scheduled to play Shakespeare’s Hamlet at London’s Barbican Theatre. The production will be directed by Lyndsey Turner and will be produced by Sonia Friedman. It will start its 12-week run in August 2015. Freeman has also tread the boards as well, as seen here.)
Can’t make it to London — and not many of us can — there’s the National Theatre Live which broadcasts “live” well-film productions
aired in locations around the world. It might be better than a front row seat at the Cottesloe Theatre as cameras film from all angles on stage with close-ups. You could see the sweat on Benedict Cumberbatch’s brow and the pores on Johnny Lee Miller’s face during “Frankenstein.” Performances also include interviews and backstage tours of the costume or make-up rooms. Coming up: “Medea,” starting Sept. 4, “A Streetcar Named Desire” starting Sept. 16, David Hare’s “Skylight” in October. Find a theater near you, I hope. Visit the National’s website.
‘The Audience’ coming to Broadway
Speaking of the National Theatre Live, I caught its broadcast of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth in the title role of “The Audience”
at the Monmouth University venue in West Long Branch, NJ. Surprised to see it coming to Broadway as it’s about the various prime ministers Queen Elizabeth has dealt with during her more than 60+ year reign. I’d think most American audiences would be hard pressed to name half of the 12 PMs with whom she has audiences during the play. And some knowledge of 20th century British history would be helpful. But, heck, Mirren on stage in America is always a good thing. It’s not my money producing it. Scheduled from Feb. 17 through June 28.