IT’S as close to a night at the National Theatre in London as it’s possible to get without a long plane ride, and it’s coming to Tamworth this weekend.
A National Theatre Live broadcast of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies will be shown at Forum 6 Cinemas on Sunday.
And there’s a familiar face in the cast: former Tamworth man Philip Quast, who’s been based in London for the past several months appearing in the show.
NT Live is the National Theatre program that aims to brings world-class theatre to cinemas in the UK and internationally.
If time zones allow, the performance is shown live; if not, it’s shown as an “encore”.
Tamworth’s broadcast will be an encore, and Quast told The Leader that the filming added a bit of extra pressure to the performance.
“We have 10 cameras, we have one camera rehearsal the day before and we don’t know what the shots are as actors,” he said.
“What you’re actually seeing is a live production; it’s not edited in any way, so if anything goes wrong, it’s up there for perpetuity.
“Because it’s singing, it’s extra stressful … if you make a mistake, and my character does in this – there’s a moment where the audience thinks that I have, and that was sort of improvised every night on stage.”
Bringing it home
Quast told The Leader that the Follies encore wasn’t originally planned to be shown in the city.
However, cinema manager Grant Lee said he jumped at the opportunity to bring it here.
“We have to support our locals,” he said.
Quast said a broadcast such as this was a perfect fit for somewhere like Tamworth.
“Tamworth has a big tradition – a very, very big tradition – of musicals here,” he said.
“It has an Australian reputation for a standard of pro-am musical theatre here; it has a huge reputation, so it’s really important that they have this sort of contact, partly because people can’t do this musical, because it’s so enormous.
“It’s often done in a concert version, because it’s too big: we have the minimum cast and it’s a cast of 37.”
Follies is set in 1971 New York, on the eve of the demolition of an iconic theatre.
The ex-Follies girls gather on the stage for a reunion party, “to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves”.
Quast stars as self-absorbed husband Ben Stone opposite Janie Dee, Imelda Staunton and Peter Forbes.