June 18, 2013

People & Entertainment: 'Audience' play claims large live viewership

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – As a queen, Helen Mirren reigns on screen and stage.

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Helen Mirren played Queen Elizabeth II for a global audience of about 110,000 people last week.

The Associated Press

Dave Chappelle
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Dave Chappelle

National Theatre Live, which broadcasts stage shows from England to movie screens worldwide, said Monday that its June 13 live broadcast of Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in the play "The Audience" captured its largest audience to date.

"We were expecting a big audience for it because there's been great buzz but it's turned out even greater than expected," David Sabel, executive producer of NT Live, said in an interview from London. "It's very exciting."

Peter Morgan's play performed at London's Gielgud Theatre was seen by nearly 30,000 people in North America and nearly 80,000 people in the United Kingdom, a record for the 4-year-old program which began with a screening of "Phedre," starring Mirren.

The response has prompted more encore screenings of the play. In North America, there are 700 screenings scheduled throughout the summer, with additional encores to be added. In the UK, nearly 800 screenings will take place.

"The Audience" imagines the private weekly meetings between the monarch and Britain's prime ministers -- 12 in all -- over her six-decade reign. In the play, the queen grows from a tentative 20-something to wise octogenarian while retaining a core of solitude.

Mirren won an Oliver Award in April for the role. The actress also won an Academy Award in 2007 for her performance as the same British monarch in "The Queen," a drama about the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.

"You never quite know the ingredients that will make the recipe for success in theater," said Sabel.

Chappelle doing 13 festival dates

NEW YORK - Dave Chappelle is making his most substantial return to stand-up comedy with a one-month tour for the Funny or Die video website.

The comedian will headline the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, which kicks off Aug. 23 in Austin, Texas. The 13-date, two-stage tour concludes Sept. 22 in Phoenix.

The 39-year-old Chappelle has occasionally performed impromptu sets in comedy clubs. But he has largely avoided comedy and public life since abruptly leaving his hit Comedy Central series, "Chappelle's Show," in 2005.

Also on the bill are Flight of the Conchords, Hannibal Buress, Kristen Schaal and Al Madrigal.

 

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