Judi Dench & Kenneth Branagh on screen in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale

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Judi Dench in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale

First it was onscreen operas from The Met: Live in HD; then it was classic plays from London via the National Theatre Live series that have become wildly popular ways for us provincials to catch world-class stage performances that we would probably never get to see in person. The latest offering along these lines is the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Live series, whose first season is now underway with a production of The Winter’s Tale that stars Branagh himself as the self-deluded Leontes and the great Judi Dench as the indomitable Paulina.

Classified as one of Shakespeare’s “late romances,” The Winter’s Tale is an odd hybrid of dark and light, tragedy and comedy. Its first half, in which a king becomes irrationally jealous of his virtuous wife, setting off a string of disasters, could have been lifted from Othello; the second half is more suited to As You Like It, populated with clownish rustics, disguised young lovers and scurrilous tricksters, wrapping up with restoration, reconciliation and redemption rather than a bloodbath. Yet some of the darker notes continue to resonate until the very end, including the offstage death of a loyal servingman infamously compelled to “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Recorded in HD at London’s Garrick Theatre and co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Live performance of The Winter’s Tale will screen locally at two venues in the next month or so. The Rosendale Theatre will present it beginning at 3 p.m. this Saturday, January 2 and again at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5. Admission costs $12 for adults, $10 for Rosendale Theatre Collective members and $6 for children. The Rosendale Theatre is located at 408 Main Street (Route 213) in Rosendale.

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You’ll get a second chance to see the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in The Winter’s Tale in HD on Saturday, February 6 at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, beginning at 1 p.m. All seats go for $20. Tickets can be purchased at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; the Ulster Performing Arts Center box office at 601 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; or via Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

For more information about the Rosendale Theatre screenings, call (845) 658-8989 or visit www.rosendaletheatre.org. For more information about the Bardavon screening, visit www.bardavon.org. For more on the production itself, visit https://the-winters-tale.branaghtheatrelive.com.

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