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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.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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