Full cast details have been announced for the new 1940s-set West End production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which opens on 21 June 2005 (previews from 3 June) at Wyndham’s Theatre, where its limited season is booking until 3 September (See News, 30 Mar 2005).

In addition to the previously announced leads - Sienna Miller (as Celia), Helen McCrory (Rosalind), Dominic West (Orlando) and The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith (Jacques) – the cast will feature stand-up comedian Sean Hughes (Touchstone) and Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe (Duke Senior), most recently seen in the West End in Langston Hughes musical Simply Heavenly.

Also in the cast are: Andrew French (Charles/First Lord), Denise Gough (Phebe), Michael Howcroft (Le Beau), Rebecca Jenkins (Audrey), Sam Kenyon (Amiens), David Killick (Adam/Corin), Lisa Lee Leslie (Page), Nigel Richards (Duke Frederick), Ben Turner (Silvius) and Andrew Woodall (Oliver). The production is directed by Young Vic artistic director David Lan and designed by Richard Hudson and is booking until 3 September.

At Chichester Festival, which this year runs from 29 April to 10 September 2005 (See News, 18 Jan 2005), previously announced stars Alistair McGowan and David Warner will be joined in by James Bolam, Joe McFadden, Richard McCabe, Annette McLaughlin and John Ramm. This year’s resident ensemble company will also include: Jo Stone-Fewings, Fiona Dunn, Sophie-Louise Dann, Dan Abelson, Graham Turner, Tom Silburn, Anna Lowe, Barry McCarthy, Darlene Johnson, Kay Curram, Steven Beard, Alexis Owen-Hobbs, Kieran Hill and Stephen Ventura.

The season opens in the Festival Theatre main house with Frank Loesser’s rarely performed 1961 satirical musical about the world of corporate back-stabbing, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which runs from 5 May to 10 September 2005 (previews from 29 April). Directed by joint artistic director Martin Duncan and choreographed by Stephen Mear, the production features Joe McFadden (Aladdin at the Old Vic, TV’s The Crow Road) as up-and-comer J Pierrepont Finch, James Bolam as company president JB Biggley, Fiona Dunn (Out of This World, The Gondoliers) as Rosemary, and Annette McLaughlin (High Society, Anything Goes, Chicago) as Hedy La Rue. Heard but never seen, McGowan will play the Voice of the Book.

The first production in the 2005 summer festival season at the smaller Minerva Theatre is David Warner’s King Lear (pictured), directed by joint artistic director Steven Pimlott and running from 17 May to 10 September 2005 (previews from 7 May). The production comes 40 years after Warner made history as the RSC’s youngest-ever Hamlet, in a landmark 1965 production that ran for two years, and four years after Pimlott directed Samuel West to multi-award winning success in another RSC Hamlet.

King Lear will feature Lou Gish (Easy Virtue, TV’s Coupling) as Goneril, Zoe Waites (RSC’s Othello, Romeo and Juliet) as Regan, Kay Curram (The Seagull, Nathan the Wise) as Cordelia, Jo Stone-Fewings (RSC’s King John, Twelfth Night) as Edgar and John Ramm (RSC’s Pedro the Great Pretender, the National Theatre of Brent) as the Fool. Also in the cast are: Daniel Abelson, Barry McCarthy, Mark Meadows, Aleksander Mikic, Stephen Noonan, Richard O’Callaghan, Brendan O’Hea, Raad Rawi, Tom Silburn and Michael Thomas.

Finally, at Nottingham Playhouse, Colin Tarrant (The Glee Club on stage, best known for his 12 years as Inspector Munroe on TV’s The Bill) will play real-life football legend Brian Clough in Stephen Lowe’s rather verbosely titled, Old Big 'Ead in the Spirit of the Man (Brian Clough Takes to the Stage Literally). The premiere play - which looks at the life and career of the late football manager, who died on 20 September 2004 at the age of 69 – runs from 3 to 25 June 2005 (See News, 31 Jan 2005).

Born to a working-class Middlesbrough family in 1935, as a young footballer, Clough played for Middlesbrough and then Sunderland, where he scored a phenomenal 251 goals in 274 games. He started his managerial career in 1965 after a knee injury halted his playing. After joining Nottingham Forest in 1975, Clough led the club to national and European success over an 18 year reign. Lowe’s play reflects on the life of the enigmatic man, who was dubbed “the best manager England never had”. Tarrant is apparently a keen Nottingham Forest fan and, in his youth, had trials with Huddersfield Town.

- by Terri Paddock