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English National Ballet dancers in Giselle,(c) Laurent Liotardo

Top 5: Upcoming Theatre Broadcasts

1 March 2018 Suzanne Frost

Purists may argue that watching theatre on the big screen can never live up to experiencing the real thing. But broadcasting theatrical events to a cinema near you is a valid undertaking: many of London’s most popular shows sell out fast and only the most dedicated queue-survivors, on and offline, will get to enjoy them. For the rest of us, the cinema broadcast is a godsend, and with more and more cinemas partaking, London’s best theatre becomes accessible across the UK and even internationally. A trip to the cinema can be more expensive than live theatre these days, so you won’t be saving much, but at least you will be able to join the conversation on these 5 unmissable shows:

Carmen – Royal Opera House

Anna Goryachova and Francesco Meli in Carmen at Royal Opera House, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Barrie Kosky, the Australian opera wizard taking Berlin’s Komische Oper from strength to strength, has been the opera director of the moment for some time now, picking up awards for his visionary work on a regular basis. The Royal Opera House was keen to add this feather to their cap and naturally, Carmen, Bizet’s uber-popular Spanish opera, sold out before you could even say habanera. Traditional is not a word in Kosky’s vocabulary, so expect the unexpected with a Carmen stripped of castanets and clichés. Instead there’s a camp Weimar Cabaret aesthetic, a striptease in a gorilla suit and the sultry gypsy heroine wearing men’s trousers.
 
Carmen is broadcast live in cinemas 6 March
 
 
An American in Paris

Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in An American in Paris. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Very rarely does a successful West End musical make it on to the big screen. An American in Paris, Christopher Wheeldon’s Tony and Olivier wining stage adaptation of the beloved Gene Kelly film makes an exception.  With the run at the Dominion Theatre now closed, audiences get one more chance to experience this beautiful, romantic and joyous show before it heads to North America.  Wheeldon, the ex-ballet dancer, created a musical strong on narrative dance sequences, avoiding the more sugary elements of the original movie while focusing on the darker aspect of post-war France. Exceptional video projections unfold the beauty of Paris before your eyes, the score is full of Gershwin evergreens and with the two leads being absolute ballet royalty, the dancing is to die for.
 
An American in Paris is in cinemas 16 May
 
 
Julius Caesar – Bridge Theatre

David Morrissey as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. Photo: Manuel Harlan

The National Theatre has been one of the first to embrace live broadcasting. With this production of Julius Caesar for the brand new Bridge Theatre, it will be interesting to see if the danger and urgency of the live experience can be captured on film. Nicholas Hytner’s staging is semi-immersive, with half the audience in the pit making for an exceptionally intense theatrical experience with all the adrenaline of a rock concert. But even if you only look at a 2D screen, the star studded cast with Ben Wishaw as Brutus, Game of Throne’s Michelle Fairley as Cassius and The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey as Mark Antony is on top form. The Shakespeare tragedy draws astonishing parallels and raises important questions for our current political climate.
 
Julius Caesar will be broadcast live on 22 March
 
 
Lady Windemere’s Fan

Jennifer Saunders and Grace Molony in Lady Windermere's Fan. Photo: Marc Brenner

The glorious wit of Oscar Wilde is celebrated in a whole yearlong season by Dominic Dromgoole’s new theatre company Classic Spring at the Vaudeville Theatre.  Lady Winderemere’s Fan, a biting social comedy about upper-class morals  - or lack thereof – is directed by Kathy Burke and stars Jennifer Saunders, back on a West End stage for the first time in 20 years, in the show stealing role of the Duchess of Berwick. Wilde deliciously peels off society’s civilised veneer when it comes to the treatment of women and offers a nod to current debates around misconduct. Wilde was an emphatic observer of women’s fate and gave his female characters some of the most iconic one-liners in history.
 
Lady Windemere’s Fan will be broadcast live on 20 March
 
 
Akram Khan’s Giselle

English National Ballet in Giselle. Photo: Laurent Liotardo

Trying to score tickets for the world premiere of Akram Khan’s reworking of iconic ballet classic Giselle in 2016 was a completely hopeless endeavour. While the press went wild calling it a masterpiece of 21st century dance, anyone hoping to still check it out could just forget about it.  In 2017, it returned to Sadler’s Wells due to popular demand and sold out completely again. Now, with a bona fide modern classic in their repertoire, English National Ballet reacted, making this highly sought after hot ticket available to everyone with a nationwide release to cinemas. Dragging the story into the 21st century, Khan is exploring the ballet’s underlying issues of power and class with Giselle reinvented as a refugee migrant in a catastrophic situation.
 
Akram Khan’s Giselle will be broadcast nationwide on 25 April
 
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