Shakespeare Live!, Special RSC Gala Performance, Will Feature All-Star Lineup | Playbill

News Shakespeare Live!, Special RSC Gala Performance, Will Feature All-Star Lineup Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen are among those appearing.
Helen Mirren

A one-night-only performance entitled Shakespeare Live! is being presented April 23, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, before an invited audience at Stratford-Upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The cast, assembled and directed by Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, will feature David Tennant as host, joined by Dames Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Harriet Walter, Sirs Ian McKellen and Antony Sher, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Russell Beale, David Suchet, John Lithgow, Rufus Wainwright, Joseph Fiennes, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Roger Allam, Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Nixon, Anne Marie Duff, Alison Moyet, Al Murray, Alexandrea Gilbreath, Henry Goodman and Tim Minchin.

There will be musical performances that include a rendition of “Tonight” from West Side Story, choreographed by the Royal Ballet's Will Tuckett and performed by 19 musical theatre students from across the U.K. Country duo The Shires will perform a special interpretation of Shakespeare’s poem “Under the Greenwood Tree”; actors Henry Goodman and Rufus Hound will give their own rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate; and the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra will perform Duke Ellington's “Such Sweet Thunder.”

Rufus Wainwright, Gregory Porter and Ian Bostridge will also be offering songs inspired by Shakespeare: Rufus Wainwright will sing Sonnet 29; a filmed performance of Gregory Porter singing “When That I Was a Little Tiny Boy” will be featured; and “Come Away, Death” will be sung by Ian Bostridge, accompanied by Sir Antonio Pappano, recorded at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is buried.

Also appearing are members of the English National Opera, Royal Ballet (performing Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by the 65-piece Orchestra of the Swan), Birmingham Royal Ballet (performing a dance inspired by Othello), Hip Hop Shakespeare performing a brand-new composition, and the cast of Horrible Histories.

The audience will include His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (who is president of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, as well as RSC supporters, partner schools and theatres, local residents and the general public through a series of ballots for free tickets.

The performance will be broadcast April 23 on BBC Two that evening and screened live to 368 cinemas in the U.K. and Europe by Picturehouse Entertainment.

For more information on the Shakespeare Birthday weekend, visit

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