In our modern era of fast-paced consumption of digital clickbait media, Network is more relevant than ever. Based on the 1976 Academy Award-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky, the screen-to-stage adaptation of Network stands the test of time, delivering a unique, engrossing high-tech multimedia performance brimming with drama and diatribes. Disgruntled TV news anchor Howard Beale goes off the deep end live on the air, spicing up the normally ho-hum broadcast and sending ratings skyrocketing. Network execs seek to capitalize on their captive audience, who hangs on Beale’s every word – are they tuning in to learn about factual world news, or are they seeking a more emotional connection by listening to a televised madman spoon-feeding them exactly what they want to hear? In today’s world of so-called “fake news” and infotainment, Network’s message about the supremacy of anger and its consequences has struck a chord with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
Longtime TV news anchor Howard Beale seems to have lost his touch – his reportings as part of the UBS Evening News team are no longer resonating with viewers, and the station’s ratings are going down the tubes. After learning from his higher-ups that he’s being let go in two weeks, Beale unravels live on the air and threatens to take his own life during an upcoming broadcast. Network execs intervene, firing Beale but agreeing that he can make a proper apology on the air as well as a farewell to his faithful viewers. Beale throws execs a curveball when his televised apology spirals into yet another tirade, drumming up lots of attention about the show and actually causing ratings to spike as viewers join in to see what will happen next. The news producers continue to stoke the angry newscaster’s antics, riding the wave of high ratings even at the expense of Beale’s sanity. Beale gains celebrity as a sort of televangelist, preaching his angry gospel of dissent and spreading his now infamous catchphrase, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Tensions run high, Beale’s fiery proselytization to the masses intensifies, and calamity ensues. But what about the show’s ratings? Book your tickets to see Network today and become part of UBS Evening News’ studio audience to find out for yourself!
Since the original iteration of Network graced the silver screen back in 1976, the universe of consumer media consumption has drastically changed, and technology right along with it. While the stage adaptation of the film remains quite faithful to the original script, there have been many high-tech updates made to the television broadcast studio atmosphere to keep the show relevant to present-day audiences. Director Ivo van Hove wanted to fully immerse the audience into the show, giving them the role of television studio audience, surrounding them with the intensity of a live newscast. Network isn’t simply about watching an actor on a stage performing a role – Cranston and the rest of the cast are delivering the news to viewers at warp speed, with film crews live-taping the broadcast and projecting it onto TV screens from various angles all across the stage. Network is a sensory overload, with audiences unsure of where exactly to direct their attention – should they watch the live news anchor, or one of the many screens depicting how the network chooses to portray him? One scene is even shot and broadcast live on the streets of Manhattan, as actors move from the sidewalk outside the theater to inside the building and onto the stage. Network is a truly immersive show that puts the audience front and center, bringing a modern twist to classic tale.
Network’s all-star cast delivers a feverish, captivating performance. Quadruple threat Bryan Cranston – laureate of Tony, Olivier, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards – reprises his award-winning role as news anchor Howard Beale, hot on the heels of his highly-acclaimed first run of Network in London’s West End. Cranston is joined by Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany who makes her Broadway debut as ruthless network programming exec Diana Christensen, alongside Tony Goldwyn as TV news division president Max Schumacher, and Tony winner Frank Wood playing Nelson Chaney. Behind the scenes, equally renowned are Network’s writer and director, Tony winners Lee Hall and Ivo van Hove, as well as Erich Sleichim who orchestrates the show’s original music and sound design.
While audiences may enter the theater with pre-conceived notions about what to expect from this play, considering its well-known and highly-lauded cinematic counterpart, all those presumptions crumble away once Bryan Cranston takes the stage and steals the show. The Chicago Tribune hails the show as “a tense, thrilling, high-tech Broadway play starring Bryan Cranston at his peak.” Per Variety, Network is “sizzling – it’s impossible to look away.” And if you’re not already convinced that the former star of Breaking Bad, Trumbo, and All The Way is a force to be reckoned with, take it from the New York Times, who calls him “Electrifying. You owe yourself the thrill of watching Bryan Cranston in Network.”
Where To Watch
Following a highly-successful run at the National Theatre in London beginning in late 2017, Network headed back across the Atlantic to make its New York City premiere a year later. Debuting in November 2018 at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway, Network has found such triumph with American audiences that its run has been extended through June 8, 2019. While the play is two hours long and runs with no intermission, time really flies for the audiences, thanks to the frenetic pace and constant energy buzzing on stage. Don’t miss your chance to see Bryan Cranston in a role that feels more relevant today than ever – book your tickets to see Network on Broadway today!
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