National Theatre: 50th anniversary

Scripps2
Broadway Legend
joined:1/19/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/22/13 at 03:06pm
Today is the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre and the Telegraph website has been marking the anniversary closely with a review of each decade and an online vote to determine readers' favourite productions. Reviewing those productions reminds me that some of my best experiences in a dimly lit room full of strangers have taken place there. Or at least originated there. And it also reminds me that there's some over-rated stuff as well.

I'm enormously grateful to have this huge cultural asset in my theatregoing life and so offer my congratulations and wish Rufus Norris all the best for its future.

So do the votes reflect what you think? And which productions mark the highs and lows in your experience of the National?


NT 50th anniversary
Updated On: 10/22/13 at 03:06 PM
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/22/13 at 03:33pm
Here, Here.

Nicholas Hytner writes a good article on what the National Theatre is for in todays Evening Standard.



Evening Standard
2014 Theatre: Billy Elliot***** Meet Me In St Louis*** American Psycho**** Tell Me On A Sunday**** Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense* Stephen Ward**** Charlie and the Chocolate factory*** Dirty Dancing** Stephen Sondheim's Puttin It Together*** Candide*** The Lion King***** The Book of Mormon****** Les Miserable***** Stephen Ward**** The Weir**** Fortune's Fool*** Spamalot*** Superior Doughnuts**** Seven Brides For Seven Brothers**** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Finans Rainbow**** The Commitments** Boeing Boeing*** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) The A-Z of Mrs P** Billy Elliot***** Wicked** Good People***** Urinetown***** Spamalot*** The Full Monty**** Other Desert Cities*** Ghosts*** Dirty Rotten Scoundrels***** It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman*** Stephen Ward**** King Lear**** A Taste Of Honey** Blithe Spirit**** From Here To Eternity**** Spamalot*** Fiddler On The Roof** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Relative Values**** Fatal Attraction*** Matilda***** 39 Steps**** Another Country** handbagged** Two Into One*** The Beautiful Game***** Let The Right One In**** Once**** Privacy*****
Scripps2
Broadway Legend
joined:1/19/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/22/13 at 03:48pm
Curious that Sweeney Todd isn't in there but A Little Night Music is.

Curious that Carousel doesn't make it to the final ten.

Curious that War Horse does.
DeNada
Broadway Star
joined:7/7/07
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/22/13 at 04:30pm
Other productions of Sweeney and Carousel have come and gone around the country, but Night Music is pretty singular - no-one does the show, and Dame Judi has trotted out Send In The Clowns enough times to have it be something of a theatrical institution.

(I might also venture that Carousel, like all those Trevor Nunn productions ten years later, had so much involvement from Cameron Mackintosh that it probably didn't feel enough like a NT production)

Unfortunately I've visited the Telegraph too many times this month to see the shortlist - what ended up on there? War Horse makes sense as it's a huge mainstream hit, regardless of its emotional manipulation.
ukpuppetboy
Understudy
joined:2/12/13
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/22/13 at 08:23pm
Scripps - I couldn't agree more. Sweeney Todd in the Cottesloe was phenomenal and I loose count how many times I went as a teenager to get a standing place and see Julia McKenzie's pretty definitive Mrs Lovett and Barry James' inspired Beadle. The whole cast were top class but these two were absolute gold. It lost a little in translation to the bigger house though, but still always sustained a much greater buzz than Night Music - Dame or no Dame.

And where does His Dark Materials figure in the last decade's poll? The most epic and courageous staging of what already became modern classics - eclipsing War Horse hands down for me in all but the skill of the puppetry. But the actual National Theatre debuts of Ben Whishaw, Russell Tovey, Anna Maxwell Martin and Dominic Cooper. And in yr 2 a certain Downton Abbey actress was an amazing understudy Lyra..





Updated On: 10/22/13 at 08:23 PM
Princeton Returns
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/23/13 at 10:54am
Im surprised you think its odd War Horse makes it onto the list. One of their biggest commercial successes, known by many people and I think a master stroke of theatrical storytelling.

For me its a close call between War Horse and History Boys, I went with the History Boys
theatrepaul
Broadway Legend
joined:1/29/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/27/13 at 05:02pm
It's so subjective. We all have our favourites & some will be loved & remembered more than others.

I'm really excited about the NT50 gala evening. Am glad it's being broadcast live on TV. I have been & always will be a huge advocate of the NT. Its delivered some of the greatest, happiest & most treasured moments in all my years of theatre going.

It's been blessed with some great artistic directors, none more so in my opinion that Nick Hytner. I'm excited to see where his successor Rufus Norris takes the NT next.

It's a national treasure.
Princeton Returns
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/27/13 at 05:31pm
Hmmm im not so sure its a 'national' treasure. London, sure.

Whilst they are definitely getting better at getting productions more widely seen,, I still think its too London centric
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/27/13 at 05:32pm
War Horse, I would vote History boys except the little issue of the elephant in the room and that IS, I regrettable haven't seen it, but then that does little to detract from War Horse that it brilliant in every single way.

Here to the next 50 years.
2014 Theatre: Billy Elliot***** Meet Me In St Louis*** American Psycho**** Tell Me On A Sunday**** Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense* Stephen Ward**** Charlie and the Chocolate factory*** Dirty Dancing** Stephen Sondheim's Puttin It Together*** Candide*** The Lion King***** The Book of Mormon****** Les Miserable***** Stephen Ward**** The Weir**** Fortune's Fool*** Spamalot*** Superior Doughnuts**** Seven Brides For Seven Brothers**** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Finans Rainbow**** The Commitments** Boeing Boeing*** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) The A-Z of Mrs P** Billy Elliot***** Wicked** Good People***** Urinetown***** Spamalot*** The Full Monty**** Other Desert Cities*** Ghosts*** Dirty Rotten Scoundrels***** It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman*** Stephen Ward**** King Lear**** A Taste Of Honey** Blithe Spirit**** From Here To Eternity**** Spamalot*** Fiddler On The Roof** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Relative Values**** Fatal Attraction*** Matilda***** 39 Steps**** Another Country** handbagged** Two Into One*** The Beautiful Game***** Let The Right One In**** Once**** Privacy*****
theatrepaul
Broadway Legend
joined:1/29/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 10/28/13 at 08:56am
How can the NT be anything but London centric given its home is in the capital?

That said, many productions tour nationwide and NT live has opened up the NT's work to a much wider audience around the UK.

At the end of the day, London is the UK's theatre capital & it seems fair enough to me that the focus of its work is around its London home.
tenorboyo
Stand-by
joined:5/28/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 02:50am
If anyone finds an online link to the Concert could you let me know? We won't be seeing the concert in Australia as far as I am aware. I would SO love to see it. Cheers folks xx
zyx987
Stand-by
joined:10/6/11
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 06:22am
hint: tvchaosuk
devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 01:11pm
I found it hugely self-congratulatory (I suppose that was the point) with really little to contribute except as some sort of extended free advert.

Just because it has its base in London it doesn't have to be so London-centric. It is called the National Theatre yet now more than ever it reaches little more than the largest conurbations and even then only for the briefest periods. Its reach has shrunk in the last 15 years.
TBFL
Featured Actor
joined:2/1/11
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 01:16pm
I always find that play excerpts, out of context, never seem to work for me, unless its something i know well. I found Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat very flat, not the usual crowd pleaser it was in the show. Clive Rowe wasnt his best. My fair Lady wasnt great either. Would much have preferred to see Joanna Riding do Carousel, which was a huge hit for the National, with its West End and Broadway transfer.

Would be great to see the National produce Angels in America again.
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 01:52pm
Nothing wrong with the National Theatre reviving past productions, because a piece has been done once before doesn't mean it cannot be done again, that goes for both musicals and plays!!!

I understand that Nickolas Hynter wanted to disassociate himself from what Trevor Nunn done and put his own mark down, which he did incredible successfully, but the new artistic director Rufus Norris, has a back catalogue of 50 years to his disposal as well as doing new plays and musicals, I hope he can execute this as successfully as Trevor Nunn and Nickolas Hynter.

2014 Theatre: Billy Elliot***** Meet Me In St Louis*** American Psycho**** Tell Me On A Sunday**** Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense* Stephen Ward**** Charlie and the Chocolate factory*** Dirty Dancing** Stephen Sondheim's Puttin It Together*** Candide*** The Lion King***** The Book of Mormon****** Les Miserable***** Stephen Ward**** The Weir**** Fortune's Fool*** Spamalot*** Superior Doughnuts**** Seven Brides For Seven Brothers**** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Finans Rainbow**** The Commitments** Boeing Boeing*** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) The A-Z of Mrs P** Billy Elliot***** Wicked** Good People***** Urinetown***** Spamalot*** The Full Monty**** Other Desert Cities*** Ghosts*** Dirty Rotten Scoundrels***** It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman*** Stephen Ward**** King Lear**** A Taste Of Honey** Blithe Spirit**** From Here To Eternity**** Spamalot*** Fiddler On The Roof** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Relative Values**** Fatal Attraction*** Matilda***** 39 Steps**** Another Country** handbagged** Two Into One*** The Beautiful Game***** Let The Right One In**** Once**** Privacy*****
Updated On: 11/3/13 at 01:52 PM
theatrepaul
Broadway Legend
joined:1/29/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 02:12pm
Of all the productions I saw for last nights event, Angels in America, Pravda & Bedroom Farce are the ones I'd love to see get major revivals
Princeton Returns
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/10
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 02:18pm
Well said Devonian, completely agree.

I was also surprised at how badly the musicals came across. Guys and Dolls was surprisingly flat and I really wasnt keen on the My Fair Lady segment and the cast chosen
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 03:34pm
I have observed the National as a provider for the 'establishment', than the general unwashed, but that hasn't stopped me enjoying shows there.

I agree with the national being 'centric', as that is where the great and good of the 'establishment' are based and have noted their tours to be very short and seems to be done more so to get boxes ticked, to achieve funding, than to please the masses.

2014 Theatre: Billy Elliot***** Meet Me In St Louis*** American Psycho**** Tell Me On A Sunday**** Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense* Stephen Ward**** Charlie and the Chocolate factory*** Dirty Dancing** Stephen Sondheim's Puttin It Together*** Candide*** The Lion King***** The Book of Mormon****** Les Miserable***** Stephen Ward**** The Weir**** Fortune's Fool*** Spamalot*** Superior Doughnuts**** Seven Brides For Seven Brothers**** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Finans Rainbow**** The Commitments** Boeing Boeing*** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) The A-Z of Mrs P** Billy Elliot***** Wicked** Good People***** Urinetown***** Spamalot*** The Full Monty**** Other Desert Cities*** Ghosts*** Dirty Rotten Scoundrels***** It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman*** Stephen Ward**** King Lear**** A Taste Of Honey** Blithe Spirit**** From Here To Eternity**** Spamalot*** Fiddler On The Roof** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Relative Values**** Fatal Attraction*** Matilda***** 39 Steps**** Another Country** handbagged** Two Into One*** The Beautiful Game***** Let The Right One In**** Once**** Privacy*****
Musicalfan4
Swing
joined:10/31/13
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 04:59pm
My favourite performance was definitely Jerry Springer opera, thought that Alison Jiear was Phenomenal and her voice is fantastic...I also loved London Road and War Horse!! Fantastic show!!
devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 05:34pm
film clips of actors who are no longer with us, ranging from Paul Scofield in Amadeus to Nigel Hawthorne in the Madness of George

What a great range- an old, white man and... an old, white man. And that's the problem this old, white, male reviewer doesn't notice. Diversity reflecting the entire nation is so token- and try asking most actresses who've worked with certain directors at the NT how much notice they, their performances and projects get paid.
ukpuppetboy
Understudy
joined:2/12/13
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/3/13 at 07:00pm
Jesus Christ, yes let's ask Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and maybe outside of the acting field Marianne Elliott also how stiffling the NT can be for women in this day and age. The gala represented the last 50 years of history -it's PAST, so it may well have been a little "white priviliged male" centric, but I hardly think that's representitive of it's recent contributions or future. I assume the cultural shift from a blackened Olivier in Othello to Adrian Lester's Henry V was lost on you too..
devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/4/13 at 02:58am
You've listed a very small number of already-established artists, some of whom have done very little indeed at the National. I am being discreet by not naming the actresses who have expressed dissatisfaction with the regime, but just look at the number of female directors you can name as being prominent there. Look at the list of former artistic directors. Look at the number of female lighting designers (2) who work there; what about sound designers? 'Othello' is hardly a brilliant example of diversity with its one leading role for black actor. It is an example which shows a lack of awareness of what other works are out there. You would have been better citing 'Fela!', which was an interesting excursion- but it is a drop in the ocean of white, middle class, middle-aged, Middle England fare that gets produced.

(Incidentally, I am white, middle-aged, middle class and a southerner so I'm not even arguing as one of the people the National fails to serve!)
keithp
Featured Actor
joined:4/20/05
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/4/13 at 05:40pm
Those old white men you dismiss were great actors and that was the point of the evening. The NT is becoming more diverse, slowly but it is. It should do more touring but with NT Live, it is reaching a much wider audience.
It isn't perfect but there is a huge amount to celebrate rather than whine about like a sort of churlish Daily Mail leader writer. And by the way, you selectively ignore colour blind casting of Clive Rowe for one in Carousel, The Amen Corner, Eliminas Kitchen.
The NT is a much more inclusive and accessible place than it was and I am sure in another 10 years, it will be even more so.
Phantom of London
Broadway Legend
joined:3/26/08
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/5/13 at 05:25pm
Okay, why when you go there, there are so e many white men in suit, with a public school boy accents?

In today's Evening Standard:
http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/simon-jenkins-londons-theatrical-preeminence-costs-the-provinces-dear-8922040.html

Just watch Saturday nights performance which was absolutely stellar, I thought Alan Bennett was sensational in his own creation 'The History Boys', this was one of many highlights.


2014 Theatre: Billy Elliot***** Meet Me In St Louis*** American Psycho**** Tell Me On A Sunday**** Jeeves and Wooster: Perfect Nonsense* Stephen Ward**** Charlie and the Chocolate factory*** Dirty Dancing** Stephen Sondheim's Puttin It Together*** Candide*** The Lion King***** The Book of Mormon****** Les Miserable***** Stephen Ward**** The Weir**** Fortune's Fool*** Spamalot*** Superior Doughnuts**** Seven Brides For Seven Brothers**** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Finans Rainbow**** The Commitments** Boeing Boeing*** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) The A-Z of Mrs P** Billy Elliot***** Wicked** Good People***** Urinetown***** Spamalot*** The Full Monty**** Other Desert Cities*** Ghosts*** Dirty Rotten Scoundrels***** It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman*** Stephen Ward**** King Lear**** A Taste Of Honey** Blithe Spirit**** From Here To Eternity**** Spamalot*** Fiddler On The Roof** (Orchard Theatre, Dartford) Relative Values**** Fatal Attraction*** Matilda***** 39 Steps**** Another Country** handbagged** Two Into One*** The Beautiful Game***** Let The Right One In**** Once**** Privacy*****
ukpuppetboy
Understudy
joined:2/12/13
National Theatre: 50th anniversary
Posted: 11/5/13 at 07:21pm
Not sure if you're just being facetious or confusing the National with Glyndebourne now. Er. I assume there are a lot of men in suits there seeing shows because they would make up a sizeable proportion of the adult population and come straight from work? But most have their wives with them - London is not, last time I checked, an entitely gay city. Or. Heaven forbid, their wives (some of which may, shock horror, be in suits too) may have chosen the production and (even more shockingly) booked the seats. Lord, how very Bloomsbury. But a disproportionate amount of men in suits? Well certainly no more (and probably in some shows, significantly less) than in commercial theatre where prices are double those of the NT and the diversity of productions half of that found south of the river. No noticably public school accents at The Light Princess the other week, but then what exactly is that anyway? Have you been to London lately? It's not exactly Downton Abbey there these days.

Updated On: 11/5/13 at 07:21 PM

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