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Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes and History Boys line up to mark National's 50th

A plethora of big names from the National Theatre's history are reportedly set to feature in a gala marking the venue's 50th birthday on 2 November

By • London
National history: The original cast of <i>The History Boys</i> in 2004
National history: The original cast of The History Boys in 2004

Stars including Judi Dench, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Gambon, James Corden, Maggie Smith and Ralph Fiennes will reportedly take part in the National Theatre's 50th anniversary gala on 2 November 2013.

The one-off evening, which is being overseen by outgoing NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner, will play in the Olivier Theatre to an audience of invited guests and broadcast live on BBC2.

According to the Evening Standard, the event will see Judi Dench revive her performance as Shakespeare's Cleopatra by reciting her elegy to Antony as part of a number of extracts from "landmark plays and performances" in the National's 50-year history.

Others reportedly include Maggie Smith reprising her acclaimed performance as Mrs Sullen in George Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem, NT stalwart Simon Russell Beale's Hamlet, and Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi performing a scene from Harold Pinter's No Man's Land.

Judi Dench as Cleopatra in 1987
Judi Dench as Cleopatra in 1987
© Alastair Muir
Ralph Fiennes will recreate the role of Lambert Le Roux in David Hare and Howard Brenton's 1985 play Pravda, originally played by Anthony Hopkins.

The two-hour show will also feature a number of the original History Boys, though Hytner revealed a full reunion could prove tricky. "I don't think we will get them all because they are unbelievably busy and successful," he said. "But I know that James Corden and Dominic Cooper will move heaven and earth."

He added that the scenes will be "properly and elaborately re-staged highlights from the shows that have made an impact over 50 years".

Musical performances will also feature. Clive Rowe will sing "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from Guys and Dolls, which was staged by Richard Eyre in 1982 and 1996, and there will be scenes from the famously controversial Jerry Springer - The Opera.

According to the Standard, "Dame Judi might sing 'Send in the Clowns', as she did in 1995 in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music."

Some tickets - priced up to £500 - will reportedly be made available for the dress rehearsal on the Friday preceding the Saturday broadcast.

Other events to mark the 50th anniversary include an ongoing series of talks, exhibitions and tours, and a visit by the Queen on 22 October to view the current development work as part of NT Future.

The announcement of Nicholas Hytner's successor as artistic director is expected to be made in October.

Tags: National TheatreNicholas HytnerJudi DenchSimon Russell BealeMichael GambonMaggie SmithJames CordenDominic CooperRalph FiennesNT 50th


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