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Bing Crosby Theater brings Broadway and the West End to West Sprague

Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience.” A film of the stage play will be screened Sunday at the Bing Crosby Theater. (Greg Allen / Invision/AP)
Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience.” A film of the stage play will be screened Sunday at the Bing Crosby Theater. (Greg Allen / Invision/AP)

For fans of live theater, the draw of seeing shows in New York or London may not always be practical.

That’s partly why Jerry and Patty Dicker, owners of the Bing Crosby Theater, have a made a point of bringing theater performances to Spokane via the theater’s movie screen.

Since 2014, theater fans have been able to see such theater luminaries as Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Gillian Anderson and others performing acclaimed works without having to board a single airplane through the Bing’s Stage to Screen series.

“Jerry and I have always liked theater. When we learned about these ‘live captured performances’ it made sense on a personal level to take advantage of the opportunity to see some of the best theater in the world,” said Patty Dicker. “And the fact that the rest of the community gets to experience it fits with our general reason for buying the theater – to preserve it as a community resource.”

The series continues this Sunday with “The Audience,” starring Mirren. Up next are “Small Island” on July 21 and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” starring Sally Field and Bill Pullman, on Aug. 18. The next series will be announced in August, Dicker said.

When it comes to creating art around the life of Queen Elizabeth II, few are as prolific as writer Peter Morgan. He wrote 2006’s “The Queen,” which starred Oscar-winner Mirren and dealt with the fallout from Princess Diana’s death, and created the Netflix series “The Crown,” which debuted in 2016, with a third season expected to air later this year.

Between those two came “The Audience,” a stage play starring Mirren (again) as Queen Elizabeth. The 2013 play follows the monarch’s life as framed by the weekly conversation she has with her prime ministers, including Gordon Brown, David Cameron, John Major and Margaret Thatcher. Mirren won the Tony and the Olivier awards for her work on both Broadway and the West End. Anglophiles can rejoice and see a filmed version of West End run on Sunday at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Directed by Stephen Daldry (“The Hours,” “Billy Elliot”), “The Audience” is a fascinating look at a woman who by her very nature is inscrutable. Morgan and Daldry can only speculate about the topics discussed during these weekly briefings. Instead, they take the opportunity to allow their star to further explore the monarch and the monarchy. American audiences might not get all of the inside references to British historical figures and politics, but they certainly can enjoy a bravura performance by one of the great actors of the past 50 years.

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