Shakespeare Live! From the Royal Shakespeare Company, the grand finale of the PBS Arts Fall Festival, makes its debut on WNET/Thirteen December 23 at 9 PM ET; check local listings.
Celebrating the international legacy of Shakespeare in all the performing arts, including opera, ballet, hip hop, blues, jazz, and musical theatre, the evening is hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
Performers include Akala and Hip Hop Shakespeare, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ian Bostridge, Judi Dench, Anne Marie Duff, Paapa Essiedu, Joseph Fiennes, Alexandra Gilbreth, Rory Kinnear, the cast of Horrible Histories, Rufus Hound, Henry Goodman, John Lithgow, Ian McKellen, Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra, Helen Mirren, Alison Moyet, Al Murray, Pippa Nixon, the Orchestra of the Swan, Gregory Porter, the Royal Ballet, Antony Sher, The Shires, David Suchet, Rufus Wainwright, and Harriet Walter. Even RSC president Prince Charles joins the fun for an impromptu acting class on the proper way to emote Shakespeare's classic words, "To be, or not to be."
The performance was assembled and directed by Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and took place in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Among the highlights: country duo The Shires perform a special interpretation of Shakespeare's poem Under the Greenwood Tree; Henry Goodman and Rufus Hound give their own rendition of "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from the musical Kiss Me, Kate; and the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra perform Duke Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy," which is used for an Othello-inspired dance courtesy of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Akala and his award-winning music theatre production company, Hip Hop Shakespeare, perform a brand-new composition; dancers from the Royal Ballet perform Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by the 65-piece Orchestra of the Swan; and Rufus Wainwright, Gregory Porter, and Ian Bostridge offer songs inspired by Shakespeare.
The evening was filmed April 23 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.