Queen visits National Theatre to mark 50 years

LONDON (AP) — Britain's National Theatre is marking its 50th birthday with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II.

The monarch had a backstage tour Tuesday, meeting the widow of founder Laurence Olivier and seeing some of the large equine puppets from the hit show "War Horse." The company launched on Oct. 22, 1963, with a performance of "Hamlet" starring Peter O'Toole.

Since then it has established a three-auditorium permanent home on the South Bank of the River Thames and spawned productions that have gone around the world. Recent hits include "One Man, Two Guvnors" and "War Horse," which was made into a Steven Spielberg movie.

The company will celebrate its anniversary on Nov. 2 with a televised live show featuring performances by Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch and other National Theatre veterans.

Related Headlines

  • Helen Mirren

    Mirren to be honored at British Academy awards

    Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, whose roles have ranged from a hard-nosed detective to Queen Elizabeth II, is to receive the British Academy Film Awards' highest honor. 

  • Peter O'Toole

    AP PHOTOS: Peter O'Toole dies at 81

    Peter O'Toole's big break came in David Lean's blockbuster epic "Lawrence of Arabia" which launched his rise to global stardom. After a career that spanned over 60 years and ... 

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sari Mercer

    '12 Years a Slave' named best film at UK awards

    The force of "Gravity" was strong at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday — but it was unflinching drama "12 Years a Slave" that took the top prize. Steve McQueen's ... 

  • Olivier Awards 2014 - Press Room - London

    'Chimerica,' 'Book of Mormon' win at Oliviers

    Irreverent musical "The Book of Mormon" and hit geopolitical drama "Chimerica" were the big winners Sunday at Britain's Olivier stage awards, on a night when London's small ...