First Look: Stunning behind the scenes images released to mark live cinema broadcast of National Theatre production of classic musical Follies this Thursday

  • The production is one of the biggest ever staged at the National Theatre with a cast of 37 wearing 160 costumes
  • Cast includes triple Olivier award winning and Academy Award nominated actress Imelda Staunton
  • Stephen Sondheim’s landmark musical will be broadcast live into cinemas on Thursday 16th November

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A collection of stunning images taken backstage at the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of the legendary Stephen Sondheim musical Follies have been released ahead of the live cinema broadcast to cinemas across the UK and internationally on Thursday November 16th as part of National Theatre Live.

The show is one of the biggest ever staged at the National Theatre with a cast of 37 wearing 160 costumes, 62 headdresses and 129 pairs of tap shoes between them which are adorned with 600,000 Swarovski crystals. There are also 50 wigs used in the show which can take around thirty hours to prepare for a performance.

A team of ten staff from the National Theatre Wardrobe and Wigs, Hair and Make-Up department assist the actors backstage before and during the show with costume and wig fittings, quick costume changes and make-up.

The entire show, including the set as well as the costumes, was designed by Vicki Mortimer whose previous work at the National Theatre includes Othello and Hamlet. Vicki worked closely with the Follies director Dominic Cooke and choreographer Bill Deamer to ensure the overall artistic vision for the show came through in the whole design whilst making sure the costumes could survive the rigorous dance routines.

Despite selling out at the National Theatre, the public will still be able to see this visual spectacle when the show is broadcast live to cinemas across the UK and internationally on Thursday 16th November as part of National Theatre Live. Head of NT Live, Emma Keith thinks Follies perfectly sums up why the initiative began:

“It’s rare to see a show like Follies in the theatre or the cinema anymore which is what makes this broadcast so special. As these beautiful pictures show, it’s not only a feast for the ears through the genius of Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics but also for the eyes, with the stunning costumes designer Vicki Mortimer and the wardrobe and wigs, hair and make-up teams here at the National worked so hard on. 

 We completed our first camera rehearsal last week and seeing the show up on the big cinema screen was something special. It looked unbelievable and the fact that through National Theatre Live, hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and the world will have the chance to see the show and enjoy it is why we started the project to begin with. We can’t wait for everyone to see it!’’

Set in 1971, New York, Follies follows the reunion of a group of showgirls at the theatre where they used to perform, which is about to be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. The famous songs in the show include Broadway BabyI’m Still Here and Losing My Mind. The cast of 37 includes Olivier Award winning actresses Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter, Who’s Afraid Virginia Woolf, Sweeney Todd) Tracie Bennett(Hairspray, High Society), Janie Dee (Carousel, Hello Dolly) and triple Olivier award winning actor Philip Quast (Les Miserables, South Pacific) and Peter Forbes (Singin in the Rain, The James Plays) who are accompanied by an orchestra of 21 musicians.

Since launching in 2009, National Theatre Live broadcasts have been seen by an audience of over 7 million people at 2500 venues in 60 countries. The first season began in June 2009 with the acclaimed production of Phédre starring Oscar winner Helen Mirren. Recent broadcasts include Angels in America with Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey and Nathan Lane, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?with Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill, Rosentcrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with Daniel Radcliffe, Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson and Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in No Man’s Land, Sky Arts is the UK sponsor for National Theatre Live.

Follies will be broadcast live to cinemas across The UK and internationally from the National Theatre on Thursday 16th November as part of National Theatre Live with further encore screenings taking place at selected cinemas throughout the year.

To find your nearest cinema go to http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk