Live broadcast of Great Expectations opening night is first of its kind

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The first live broadcast of a West End opening night took place yesterday evening at the Great Expectations gala performance at the Vaudeville Theatre.

More than 150 cinemas across the UK and Ireland hosted live screenings of the stage adaptation, with further broadcasts planned after the event for cinemas worldwide, including in Europe, Canada, the US, Asia and Australia.

Additional footage, such as the arrival of celebrity guests and interviews with audience members during the interval was included too.

Omniverse Vision, which has previously transmitted Les Miserables at the O2 Arena live to worldwide cinemas, filmed the event.

The live broadcast also marked the launch of The Dickens Legacy, which has been set up alongside the stage show to receive a share of the box office. It will distribute funds to projects that deal with issues Dickens was concerned with, such as prison reform, adoption and literacy.

Bruce Mackinnon, the producer of Great Expectations, said it was also set up to improve access to the arts for young people. As part of this, he decided to live broadcast Great Expectations, so that as many people as possible could see the show.

He said: “So many more people will get to see the show in a cinema environment that it is very accessible and recognisable to them and will hopefully encourage them to come to the theatre and see it in the flesh too.”

Asked whether he thought it was surprising that this was the first live broadcast of its kind, Mackinnon said: “I think the whole theatre industry is going through an exciting transition at the moment, looking for new avenues and commercial opportunities but also the West End is becoming more and more engaged in things that you would normally associate with subsided theatre – such as access and education programmes.

“It’s interesting how what have been historically two quite disparate elements of the industry are coming together and combining.”