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Hanesbrands Theatre hosts a series of special summer screenings

by Mark Burger

Having recently been one of the screening venues for the 2012 River- Run International Film Festival, the Hanesbrands Theatre in Winston-Salem will offer a slew of special big-screen events this summer, beginning next week.

WFDD-FM 88.5 will present This American Life, based on the top-rated WBEZ Chicago radio show, 8 p.m. June 1-2.

Broadcast live from the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, this big-screen blowout features host Ira Glass and such popular contributors to the radio show as David Rakoff, Tig Notaro and Glynn Washington as they present stories and sketches. Mike Birbiglia will introduce his new film short, OK GO will provide musical accompaniment, with dance by Monica Bill Barnes & Company. There will also be animation, video clips and undoubtedly a few surprises along the way.

Glass has hosted “This American Life” since 1995, and since 1996 the show has been nationally syndicated via Public Radio International. The show is broadcast on more than 500 stations on a weekly basis, and reaches over 1.7 million listeners. The show celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2005, and in 2009 the radio episode “Return to the Scene of the Crime” was broadcast live to over 300 cinemas. That same year, Glass was the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Radio. Last year, he received the George Polk Award in Radio Reporting.

Tickets are $21.50. For tickets or more information, call 336.747.1414 or visit the official website: www.hanesbrandstheatre. org. The official website for “This American Life” is: www.thisamericanlife.org/.

In a more classical vein (literally!), the Hanesbrands Theatre’s National Theatre Live series from London will present the trium phant return of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) to live theater with his acclaimed production of Frankenstein, adapted from Mary Shelley’s classic novel by Nick Dear.

Previously broadcast to theaters in March, the response was so overwhelming and demand so strong that encore screenings were soon scheduled. The March screenings became the most popular National Theatre presentation to date.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Jonny Lee Miller (Dark Shadows) headline this production, and alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Both were nominated for Olivier Awards (Britain’s equivalent of the Tony) as Best Actor.

Cumberbatch will play the Creature and Miller will play Victor on June 4 (7:30 p.m.) and June 8 (8 p.m.), then switch roles for June 7 (7:30 p.m.) and June 9 (8 p.m.). Tickets are $18 (general admission) and $15 (students with valid ID). For tickets or more information, call 336.747.1414 or visit the official website: www.hanesbrandstheatre. org.

When Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award earlier this year as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Beginners, a lot of people — myself included — thought: “It’s about time!” For more than 50 years, the actor has delivered consistently solid work (sometimes in movies that were inconsistent) — on stage, screen and television. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Plummer prior to the opening of Barrymore, for which he would eventually win a Tony Award. He must have liked the interview, too: He sent me an autographed photo from the play that said “Thank you, Mark.”

Like I said, a class act.

(One word of advice should you ever encounter Plummer: Do not, under any circumstance, begin the conversation by bringing up The Sound of Music.

He likes to talk about other things first. The first things I asked him about were playing Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree and the Klingon warrior Gen. Chang in Star Trek VI — those he was happy to talk about!) Now, the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival has teamed up with the Hanesbrands Theatre to present a special screening of The Tempest Live in HD, starring Christopher Plummer as Prospero, which will be shown 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14.

One of William Shakespeare’s most famous works, this production was filmed over two days at Canada’s esteemed Stratford Shakespeare Festival under the direction of two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (also the former director of the festival).

Echoing the sentiments of many, “Christopher Plummer is quite simply one of the greatest actors of our time, both on stage and on screen,” McAnuff said in an official statement. “The opportunity to see him as Prospero in The Tempest — one of the greatest roles ever written and one he has longed to play — is nothing short of historic.”

The running time of the play is 131 minutes, and will be followed by a 20-minute interview with Plummer and McAnuff hosted by Barry Avrich, in which actor and director discuss their careers and their shared love for the works of William Shakespeare.

Tickets are $21.50. For tickets or more information, call 336.747.1414 or visit www.hanesbrandstheatre.org.

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