Great Performances: National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage
Friday, February 14 at 9:00 p.m.
Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren and more stars celebrate the legendary theatre.
The National Theatre opened its doors in 1963 with Laurence Olivier as its first director. Eight hundred productions later, the venerable institution celebrates its 50th anniversary with a starry cast of theatrical legends
Don't miss performance excerpts from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (with Benedict Cumberbatch) to The History Boys (with playwright Alan Bennett and original stars James Corden and Dominic Cooper), and from Mourning Becomes Electra (with Helen Mirren and Tim Pigott-Smith) to Bedroom Farce (with Maggie Smith’s “Downtown Abbey” co-star Penelope Wilton).
There are musical numbers from A Little Night Music (Judi Dench singing “Send in the Clowns”), My Fair Lady (Alex Jennings as Henry Higgins leading Eliza and Pickering in “The Rain in Spain”), and Guys and Dolls (Clive Rowe bringing down the house with “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat”).
Priceless archival scenes include Noel Coward’s Hay Fever (with Maggie Smith), Amadeus (with Paul Scofield), and Richard III (with Ian McKellen). There are felicitous juxtapositions of then and now, such as Smith’s youthful turn in the Coward play followed by her live-on-stage speech from Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Strategem.