Rosendale screens National Theatre from London’s 50 Years on Stage

Benedict Cumberbatch as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (the play was first performed at the National Theatre in 1967 with John Stride and Edward Petherbridge in the title roles). (photo by Catherine Ashmore)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (the play was first performed at the National Theatre in 1967 with John Stride and Edward Petherbridge in the title roles). (photo by Catherine Ashmore)

Imagine being in London for the holidays and getting to see the cream of the British stage – 100 of them – assembled for a gala evening of scenes from classic productions at the National Theatre of Great Britain: a once-in-a-lifetime event celebrating that iconic institution’s 50th anniversary. Imagine Roger Allam, Simon Russell Beale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dominic Cooper, Frances de la Tour, Judi Dench, Christopher Eccleston, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Alex Jennings, Rory Kinnear, Adrian Lester, Anna Maxwell Martin, Helen Mirren, Tim Piggott-Smith, Andrew Scott, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and many more, all assembled at once and performing under the direction of current National Theatre honcho Nicholas Hytner. Intersperse with a selection of archival film clips of productions from the National Theatre’s long history, featuring such big names as Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Nigel Hawthorne, Ian Holm, Fiona Shaw and Zoë Wanamaker. Sounds impressive, no?

Well, unless you happened to be in the UK this past November 2, you missed your chance to see this amazing lineup in person or live on the BBC. But the Rosendale Theatre, which has been screening delayed “simulcasts” of Live from the National Theatre performances on a regular basis since the little neighborhood moviehouse went nonprofit in 2009, is coming through for us again this Sunday afternoon. The National Theatre from London: 50 Years on Stage extravaganza will be presented on the big screen, putting the renovated Rosendale’s brand-spanking-new, state-of-the-art projection and sound systems through their paces.

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Dramas and comedies sampled in the two-hour show include perennials by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, Williams and O’Neill and modern classics by Stoppard, Pinter, Ayckbourn, Shaffer, Kushner, Bennett and Hare, not to mention numbers from classic musicals like Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady and A Little Night Music. How can you go wrong? This star-studded show will doubtless become a collectible item on DVD, but this is your chance to see and hear it on the big screen. It’s an event not to be missed, if you’re into theatre in the slightest.

The curtain goes up this Sunday, December 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12 general admission, $10 for Rosendale Theatre Collective members. Ample off-street parking is available behind the Theatre, which is now fully wheelchair-accessible; amplified headphones are also available for the hearing-impaired.

For more info, visit https://rosendaletheatre.org/2013/11/14/national-theatre-from-london-50-years-on-stage. And for a peek at the rehearsals for 50 Years on Stage, check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Cbtg5-jxI.

National Theatre from London: 50 Years on Stage, Sunday, December 22, 2 p.m., $12/$10, Rosendale Theatre, 408 Main Street, Rosendale; (845) 658-8989, https://rosendaletheatre.org.

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