The pilot season of NT Live culminates in London Assurance with screening at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts on June 28


 

A live performance from the UK's National Theatre broadcast to cinemas and art centers worldwide

Image: London Assurance'An absolute corker ... a joy from start to finish' - Daily Telegraph on "London Assurance"

The hugely successful pilot season of NT Live, the new initiative by the National Theatre to broadcast live performances of plays onto cinema screens worldwide, will end with an addition to the original schedule: a live broadcast of Dion Boucicault's brilliantly funny Victorian comedy "London Assurance." Starring Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw, Nicholas Hytner's sell-out hit production, filmed live at the National Theatre in London, will be screened at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Monday, June 28 at 2:00 p.m. There will be an encore performance on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. This presentation is part of the Arts & Minds season.

Boucicault, the Irish genius of London theatre in the age of Dickens, wrote "London Assurance" in 1841 and created, in Sir Harcourt Courtley and Lady Gay Spanker, two of the great comic roles of the English stage. The cast also includes Mark Addy, Richard Briers, Paul Ready and Michelle Terry.

Image: London AssuranceSir Harcourt Courtly (Beale) is lured away from the epicenter of fashionable London by the promise of a rich and beautiful bride, Grace, several decades his junior. Arriving at Oak Hall, Gloucestershire, he marvels at this rural Venus until her charms are eclipsed by her hearty cousin, the foxhunting Lady Gay Spanker (Shaw). Meanwhile his disguised son turns up in flight from his creditors and falls head over heels for Grace. When Lady Spanker discovers the young couple, she needs little prompting to lead Sir Harcourt astray.

To date, the pilot season of NT Live has played to over 120,000 people in 22 countries around the world. A second season of NT Live will launch in autumn 2010 and will include Shakespeare's "Hamlet," with Rory Kinnear in the title role, Clare Higgins as Gertrude and Ruth Negga as Ophelia, directed by Nicholas Hytner; and Danny Boyle's production of "Frankenstein," a play by Nick Dear in early 2011, based on the novel by Mary Shelley. Dates for these and other NT Live broadcasts will be announced later this year. The number of cinemas and performing arts venues participating in the venture continues to grow with each new screening.

NT Live performances are filmed live at the National Theatre in high definition and broadcast via satellite to 300 cinemas and performing arts centers around the world, live in Europe and some US cities, and time-delayed in countries further afield.

"We couldn't have foreseen that the experimental NT Live season would be such a hit with audiences around the world, who are hungry to see our work in their local cinema," says Nicholas Hytner. "Through NT Live we can respond immediately to the sell-out success of "London Assurance" and bring it to tens of thousands who wouldn't otherwise be able to see it. And we're thrilled that we can confidently build on the success of our first season with a second season of broadcasts."

Tickets for reserved seating are $22 general, $20 seniors, $15 children and students and are available at the Box Office at (203) 254-4010 or online at fairfield.edu/quick. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. Special offers and discounts are available through the Quick Center's e-mail list. Join, by contacting boxoffice@quickcenter.com. And become a fan of the Quick Center for the Arts on Facebook! Keep up-to-date with the latest performance news, plus special offers and discounts! Find the Quick Center at www.facebook.com/FairfieldQuickCenter.

Directions: Fairfield University is located off I-95, exit 22 at 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

London Assurance Press Quotes

Image: London AssuranceSunday Times: A treat - stylish, hilarious and unmissable. Sparkling, uproarious comedy, bursting with elegant, biting but warm-hearted wit.

Daily Mail: The delicious performances will live long in the memory... Fiona Shaw is marvellously funny. Simon Russell Beale - I could watch him forever.

Independent: Brims with brio and youthful high spirits. Bliss.

Sunday Express: The funniest and most assured comedy in all of London. Not to be missed.

Simon Russell Beale's extensive theatre work includes Major Barbara, Much Ado About Nothing, The Alchemist, The Life of Galileo and Hamlet (Evening Standard & Critics' Circle Awards) for the NT; The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard (New York and Old Vic); Monty Python's Spamalot (West End & New York); and The Philanthropist (Donmar Warehouse: Evening Standard & Critics' Circle Awards). He is an NT Associate. His recent radio work includes The Complete George Smiley and he presents the series Sacred Music on BBC4.

Fiona Shaw's work at the National includes the title role in Mother Courage and Her Children, Happy Days, Richard II, The Good Person of Sichuan (Critics' Circle Award for Best Actress), The Powerbook, Machinal (Olivier & Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress), The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; other theatre includes Medea (West End & Broadway), Electra (RSC), Hedda Gabler (Abbey Theatre & West End) and The Waste Land (Wilton's Music Hall and international tour). On screen, her work includes the role of Aunt Petunia in three Harry Potter films. Dorian Gray, My Left Foot and Three Men and a Little Lady.

Richard Briers is still best known to TV audiences as Tom in The Good Life; his many other appearances include Torchwood, Inspector Morse and Ever Decreasing Circles. His extensive theatre work includes The Wind in the Willows at the National; many West End appearances including Present Laughter, Arsenic and Old Lace and The Chairs; and A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear and Twelfth Night for Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance company.

The National Theatre

The National Theatre, founded in 1963, and established on the South Bank of the River Thames in London in 1976, has three theatres - the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe. It presents an eclectic mix of new plays and classics, with seven or eight productions in repertory (sharing the stages) at any one time. Actors often appear in more than one play during a season; for example Elliott Levey, who appears in The Habit of Art, also appeared in All's Well That Ends Well (broadcast as part of NT Live in October 2009). The National aims constantly to re-energise the great traditions of the British stage and to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike, and aspires to reflect in its repertoire the diversity of the nation's culture. With its extensive programme of Platform performances, backstage tours, foyer music, exhibitions, and free outdoor entertainment the National recognises that the theatre doesn't begin and end with the rise and fall of the curtain. By touring - and now, NT Live - it shares its work with audiences in the UK and abroad.

NT Live is funded in partnership with Arts Council England and NESTA.

NT Live events are distributed outside the U.K. through New York-based BY Experience, Inc, the pioneer of global live "alternative content" digital cinema events. For more information visit www.byexperience.net

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 9, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 311