Approaching the Music Box Theatre on our way to preview The Last of the Haussmans my companion and I were surprised to observe school busses in a long line on Southport near the theater. Before long the buses were filled with the school children that had been attending the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. This event is one of about 150 special events held at the Music Box in addition to the 350 films screened annually according to General Manager, Dave Jennings.
The Last of the Haussmans comes to the Music Box as part of National Theatre Live now in its fourth year. This was the brainchild of Northwestern University alumnus David Sabel, National Theatre’s Head of Digital. Sabel explains, “When you think of filmed theatre it's the exact opposite of what it's supposed to be: there in the space, seeing the sweat and feeling the emotion and heat of the room. How is that going to work? People are surprised at how connected they feel. A huge part of that is the shared experience; if you were watching it on TV, even if it was live, you'd go and make a cup of tea, but here you are buying a ticket and reacting and applauding together.
National Theatre Live is an initiative by the UK’s National Theatre to broadcast live performances onto cinema screens around the world. Since its first season, which began in June 2009 with the acclaimed production of Phédre starring Helen Mirren, (see) more than 750,000 people have now experienced the National’s work on movie screens worldwide. In addition to seeing opera, ballet and symphonies from around the world, one can enjoy London Theatre near home.
The Last of the Haussmans examines the fate of the ’60s revolutionary generation and offers a funny, touching and at times savage portrait of a family full of longing that’s losing its grip. Anarchic, feisty but growing old, high society drop-out Judy Haussman (Walters) remains in spirit with the Ashrams of the 1960s while holding court in her dilapidated Art Deco house on the Devon Coast. After an operation, she’s joined by wayward offspring Nick (Rory Kinnear of James Bond: Skyfall and Quantum of Solace) and Libby (Helen McCrory), sharp-eyed granddaughter Summer, local doctor Peter, and Daniel, a troubled teenager who makes use of the family’s crumbling swimming pool. Together they share a few sweltering months as they alternately cling to and flee this louche and chaotic world of all-day drinking, infatuations, long-held resentments, free love and failure. The production is powerful and the characters so well developed they stayed with me for days. This was the last performance of the first play written by former actor, Stephen Beresford.
Plan to attend the one-time Chicago showing takes place Wednesday, November 7, 7 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 North Southport Avenue. Tickets to National Theatre Live events are $15 in advance at the Music Box Theatre box office and online at www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/national-theatre-live-presents; $18 at the door.
About the Music Box Theatre: For nearly 30 years the Music Box Theatre has been the premier venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films, festivals and some of the greatest cinematic events in Chicago. It currently has the largest cinema space operated full time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned and operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States. For additional information please visit www.musicboxtheatre.com. Download the entire Music Box Theatre Fall Calendar here: http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/assets/calendars/MusicBox_Fall2012_Web.pdf
Photos: The Silverman Group Album