Sondheim hit among theatre films

A scene from the highly acclaimed Stephen Sondheim musical, Follies, directed by Dominic Cooke  Picture by Johan Persson.

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BY BILLY SUTER

FANS of Stephen Sondheim musicals and the wonderful Imelda Staunton have a special treat in February – the National Theatre Live, high-definition film of the recent London stage success, Follies, to be shown at Cinema Nouveau cinemas in South Africa on February 17,18, 21 and 22.

The movie forms part of a feast of new filmed stage productions from London that will start this weekend with Young Marx, with Roy Kinnear (January 13, 14, 17 and 18).

Imelda Staunton in Follies. Picture by Johan Persson.

Next up will be Tennessee Williams’s Cat On a  Hot Tin Roof, with Sienna Miller and Colm Meaney (from March 31); and Nicholas Hytner’s production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with Ben Whishaw and  Michelle Fairley (from April 21).

Since launching in 2009, National Theatre Live broadcasts have been seen by an audience of more than seven million people, at 2500 venues in 60 countries.

Set in New York in 1971, Follies centres on a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre where, the next day, the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves.

Including such classic songs as Broadway BabyI’m Still Here and Losing My Mind, the musical is by Stephen Sondheim, whose credits include Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company.

Tracie Bennett and Janie Dee star alongside Staunton in Follies, which features a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21. It is directed by Dominic Cooke (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom).

The production runs without an interval. This is true to the spirit of how Sondheim intended the piece to be performed.

A winner of Academy, Tony, Grammy and Olivier awards, Sondheim’s previous work at London’s  National Theatre include A Little Night MusicSweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George.

London’s Daily Telegraph gave Follies a five-star rating, calling it “unmissable” and mentioning “razzmatazz, poignancy and cracking songs”; while The Stage said the show was “not just triumphant, but transcendant”. Time Out said: “A stunning revival. An extraordinary cast”.

Rory Kinnear as Karl Marx and Oliver Chris as Friedrich Engels in Young Marx. Picture by Manuel Harlan.

Young Marx, which runs for 150 minutes, including a 20-minute interval, is scheduled for Cinema Nouveau cinemas (but at the commercial cinema complex at Gateway, Umhlanga) at 7.30pm this Saturday (January 13), 2.30pm on Sunday (January 14) and 7.30pm next Wednesday and Thursday (January 17 and 18).

It stars Olivier Award-winning actor Rory Kinnear (Skyfall, Penny Dreadful, Othello), as Marx and Olivier Award-nominee Oliver Chris (Twelfth Night, Green Wing) as Engels.

The new comedy, written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, was recorded live at the new Bridge Theatre in London. It was directed by Olivier- and Tony- winning director Nicholas Hytner (The History Boys, Miss Saigon).

Young Marx reunites the creative team behind the Broadway and West End smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors and is the first collaboration between the Bridge Theatre and National Theatre Live.

The setting is 1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, in London’s Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the 32-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit and child-like emotional illiteracy.

Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there’s still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof played a strictly limited season in London’s West End in 2017. Following his hit production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Benedict Andrews’s ”thrilling revival’ (New York Times) stars Sienna Miller, Jack O’Connell and Colm Meaney.

It is set on a steamy night in Mississippi, where a Southern family gather at their cotton plantation to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday. The scorching heat is almost as oppressive as the lies they tell.

Brick and Maggie dance round the secrets and sexual tensions that threaten to destroy their marriage. With the future of the family at stake, which version of the truth is real – and which will win out?

Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell team in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Colm Meaney is also among the cast.

Julius Caesar teams Ben Whishaw (The Danish Girl, Skyfall, Hamlet) and Michelle Fairley (Fortitude, Game of Thrones) as Brutus and Cassius, David Calder (The Lost City of Z, The Hatton Garden Job) plays Caesar and David Morrissey (The Missing, Hangmen, The Walking Dead) portrays Mark Antony.

Broadcast live from the Bridge Theatre, London, the play sees Caesar return in triumph to Rome and the people pouring out of their homes to celebrate. Alarmed by the autocrat’s popularity, the educated élite conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, civil war erupts on the streets of the capital.

Nicholas Hytner’s production thrusts the audience into the street party that greets Caesar’s return, the congress that witnesses his murder, the rally that assembles for his funeral and the chaos that explodes in its wake.

TRAILERS FOR SOME OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE FILMS HEADED FOR SOUTH AFRICA SOON:

To see the trailer for Follies click here: https://youtu.be/yZrs8DlHPLY

To see the trailer for Young Marx click here: http://bit.ly/2zBOt3s

To see the trailer for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof click here: http://bit.ly/2BDaC2B

 


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