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Long Live The King

The immortal Bard is back on the big screen, courtesy of Stratford Festival HD’s ongoing series of one-night-only screenings of William Shakespeare’s classic plays.

BY Experience and Fathom Events have joined forces with Stratford to bring these theatrical extravaganzas to moviegoers, and the epic production of King John will be presented tonight (April 8 th ) at area theaters Cinemark Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road, Greensboro) and Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave., located in the Friendly Center).

Award-winning actor Tom McCamus (The Sweet Hereafter, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Guilty as Sin) dons the crown of the title character, the imperious and mercurial monarch whose actions rock the very foundation of the British empire and threaten the peace of Europe. Corruption, duplicity and conspiracies abound, ultimately leading to the king’s downfall.

The cast also includes Seana McKenna, Graham Abbey and Patricia Collins. The stage production was directed by Tom Carroll, whose ear lier productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night met with ecstatic acclaim on Broadway. The HD screen version of King John was helmed by Barry Avrich.

“McCamus plays King John, riveting, as a neurotic narcissist,” observed Robert Cushman of National Post. “It’s a daring performance.” Opined Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star: “The action is riveting, the political machinations delicious and all the performers, royal or otherwise, take great delight in the parts they’re playing.”

King John was once among the most popular Shakespearean plays, due in part to its grand scale and pageantry, but has inexplicably declined in popularity (and productions) over the years. The last Broadway production was exactly 100 years ago, and King John has been presented on television only twice, in 1951 (with Donald Wolfit) and in 1984 (with Leonard Rossiter).

This production was filmed live on stage with a full audience at Stratford Festival’s Tom Patterson Theatre last September, utilizing 10 high-definition cameras and over 125 tracks of sound to create an all-encompassing, surround-sound experience. Additional pick-up shots of key performance elements were then filmed on stage immediately following the live performance.

The Stratford Festival, located in Stratford, Ontario, is among the most renowned interpreters of Shakespeare’s plays.

Founded in 1952, Stratford has played host to a great and grand number of stars including Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Plummer, Brian Dennehy, James Mason, Julie Harris, Jason Robards, Paul Scofield, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Amanda Plummer, Len Cariou, Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Sarah Polley, Irene Worth, William Shatner and many others.

In fact, Shatner was Plummer’s understudy for a Stratford production of Henry V in the 1950s, which launched his career when Plummer was felled by a medical emergency. Years later, the two veteran thespians would reunite for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), in which Plummer portrayed a Shakespeare-shouting Klingon general and Shatner played – who else? – Captain James T. Kirk. (One guess who comes out of the movie in one piece.)

This presentation is the second in a planned series initiated by Stratford Festival, North America’s leading classic theater company, to present all of William Shakespeare’s plays during the next decade. The program was inaugurated in February with the broadcast of King Lear, helmed by Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino and starring Colm Feore in the title role.

The final installment of the 2015 Stratford Festival HD series will be broadcast in May, a production of Antony and Cleopatra directed by Gary Griffin, starring Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh in the title roles, scheduled for May 21 at both Brassfield Cinema 10 and Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 theaters. !

WANNA go?

King John will be shown 7 pm tonight. Tickets at Brassfield 10 are $17 (general admission), $16 (senior citizens) and $15 (children), tickets at Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 are $19.22. The production is rated PG-13 for adult situations. Tickets can be purchased at each theater. For more information, check out www.stratfordfestivalHD.com.

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