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Film Mon Nov 09 2015

Dive into Cinematic Theater with National Theatre Live

Going into this production, I was skeptical about whether theater could be as beguiling on screen as when it's performed live. With the atmosphere of the Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport Ave., I was hooked into the old-style bar/lounge and the theater complete with red curtain. During intermission, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews enlighten us as to exactly what they did to make it work. The lighting, the cameras, costumes and acting were all adapted for the NTL production, adding more depth and interaction with the characters on stage. I saw how much work needed to be done to bring us through the emotions and character changes. I would say it was a success. And a learning experience.

Although nothing can replace the reality of live theater, with props, stage and lighting in front of your eyes, if you and your friends are looking for another type of performance or perhaps have always wanted to see a UK/European production, National Theatre Live can bring that experience to you! In an effort to bring the ultimate viewing experience, they bring you up close and personal with actors and producers in carefully planned close-ups, all-stage views and more as you interact with the storyline along with the rest of the audience.

My first National Theatre Live production was The Beau's Strategem at the Music Box Theatre last week. These NTL screenings take place all around the city, both live and encore performances.

This particular show was very well done. I was truly a part of the performance and experienced what I believe George Farquhar (the playwright) intended. Directed by Simon Godwin, the actors brought us through the struggle of love, the joy of trickery and the comedy that results from perfect timing. A shout-out must be given to Jonathan Goddard as he completely blew my mind with constant movement of the show, transitions lasting less than 30 seconds and actors entering and exiting the scene without even batting an eye. Actor Susanna Fielding projected all of the emotions ranging from falling in love to complete despair as each other actor supported her role as one of the leading characters.

Launched in June 2009, National Theatre Live gives the satisfaction of an international performance in the comfort of your own city or town. And NTL is not the only one that does it. Digital Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera, The Stratford Festival in Canada and Stage on Screen have all brought theater onto screen, making it more accessible for anyone to see a famous production across the world.

Screenings are available in Chicago at various locations. National Theatre Live's productions currently take place in Chicago at Music Box Theatre, City North 14 with RPX, and AMC River East 21 featuring Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. At Louis and Barber Theatres at Northwestern University, they will show the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus in December. Tickets for both theater and opera are a bargain, compared to many live productions.

I would highly recommend giving National Theatre Live a try for your next theater production. I know I liked it for more than just the English accents.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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