Fans enjoy theater broadcast of “Frankenstein” at Douglass

pramati@macon.comJanuary 19, 2014 

Tanner Blackton had two simple words as to why she wanted to see the National Theatre Live’s presentation of “Frankenstein” at the historic Douglass Theatre on Sunday.

“Benedict. Cumberbatch,” she said emphatically, as her friends Jessica Brinkley and Spencer McCraven nodded along in agreement.

The trio made the long drive from Dalton to catch the broadcast of the stage performance Cumberbatch and co-star Jonny Lee Miller performed originally in 2011. The show, based on Mary Shelley’s novel, was directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle.

Gina Ward, director of the Douglass Theatre, said the theater has screened live stage performances from Britain’s National Theatre and New York’s Metropolitan Opera for the past few years. It offers theater lovers the opportunity to watch telecasts of live performances without having to travel hundreds of miles or spend hundreds of dollars.

“(Interest) is increasing,” Ward said. “This has been our best year.”

“Frankenstein,” in particular, has drawn a lot of attention given that Cumberbatch now has a huge international following from his performance as Sherlock Holmes on the BBC’s “Sherlock” and in several movies, including “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and “August Osage County” in 2013.

In particular, Cumberbatch has a huge female fan base, as several of the women who attended Sunday’s show attested.

“We’re with a group of girls who want to see Benedict Cumberbatch,” said Nadia Heller of Atlanta. “This was the only theater within a three-hour drive that had the show.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the show when it was performed was that Cumberbatch and Miller -- who also portrays Sherlock Holmes on CBS’ “Elementary” -- switched roles each night. One would perform as Dr. Frankenstein one night while the other performed as the creature, then would reverse it the next night. Both actors were awarded the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Actor.

More than 250,000 across 25 countries have seen the broadcast of “Frankenstein.”

Susan Sorensen of Atlanta said she made the trip to Macon because the broadcast wasn’t available where she lived.

“It was fantastic,” she said after the show. “I just became aware of the National Theatre broadcast, but it’s more limited in Atlanta. I’ve been to London and I’ve loved going to the theatre there. But the opportunity to see this show without having to travel (to London) is great. I’m going to be coming back on a regular basis. I’m surprised at the turnout here -- there have been similar things in Atlanta, but the turnout hasn’t been as good.”

The next National Theatre Live broadcast at the Douglass will be William Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” starring Tom Hiddleston at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 and another on Feb. 2.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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