The original Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," featuring 39 performers portraying 150 roles and running almost nine hours, is available on a nine-volume set of A&E Home Video.
Shot on the stage of the Old Vic Theatre in London, this dramatic masterpiece captures the classic story by Charles Dickens in all its wickedness and wonder with the use of baronets and beggars, aristocrats and outcasts.
Roger Rees stars in the title role, with Emily Richard as his irrepressible sister, John Woodvine as greedy Uncle Ralph and Jane Downs as Mrs. Nickleby. They portray characters who reveal the injustices of wealth and poverty in Victorian England.
There was clamor to see pirated stage versions of this story in 1838 even before Dickens completed the novel. But it was almost 150 years later when this classic was produced in full glory on London and Broadway stages in a two-night, eight-hour-plus performance that produced four Tony Awards--best play, best director of a play (Trevor Nunn and John Caird), best actor (Rees) and best scenic design.
The boxed set is available at major retail stores and on A&E Home Video (1-800-423-1212) and lists for $150.
A&E has three other current releases of note. Just out is "Knights of Armor," which follows the story of Sir William Marshall to battlegrounds and ancient courts to tell the tale of knighthood ($30, 100 minutes).
Scheduled for release June 27 is "Crusades," a four-volume (50 minutes each) boxed set ($60) hosted by medieval expert Terry Jones, a founding member of Monty Python. "Crusades," which aired on A&E and the History Channel recently, takes viewers through 200 years of religious conflict covering the broad themes and boundless trivia of these holy wars.
Also due for release at the end of the month is "Fireworks, the Magic of Pyrotechnics," hosted by George Plimpton ($30, 100 minutes). This show covers the development of fireworks from ancient China to the present and boasts the most dazzling display of pyrotechnics ever assembled on video.