The Young Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company have confirmed full casting for their respective Christmas productions of Skellig, based on David Almond's Whitbread Award-winning children's book of the same name, and a retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (pictured).

Adapted for the stage by Almond himself and directed by former NT and RSC artistic director Trevor Nunn, Skellig tells the story of Michael, a sad young boy whose baby sister is dying and whose family have just moved to a run down house in what he calls the wilderness. Skellig is a curious creature Michael finds in his garage, a grubby little old man with bad breath who's crippled by Arthur-itis.

Former RSC regular David Threlfall (whose many stage credits include Blue/Orange, The Entertainer, Tartuffe and Trevor Nunn's landmark production of Nicholas Nickleby) will take the title role with Kevin Wathen as Michael in a cast that also features Ashley Artus, Cathryn Bradshaw (Humble Boy), Antony Byrne, Sarah Cattle, Noma Dumezwemi, Akiya Henry and Mo Zainal (Pacific Overtures).

Skellig runs at the Young Vic from 3 December 2003 to 31 January 2004 (previews from 21 November). The production is designed by John Napier, with lighting by Howard Harrison (See News, 12 Jun 2003).

Coincidentally, the RSC's new Stratford staging of Beauty and the Beast was originally seen at the Young Vic. RSC associate director Laurence Boswell created the show at the London venue in 1996, when it won the TMA Award for Best Play for Young People. He later recreated the show at the New Zealand international Festival and has now rewritten and redesigned it for the RSC (See News, 30 May 2003).

Adam Levy, most recently seen at the National in Henry V and Edmond, returns to the RSC, where his previous credits include Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and Back to Methuselah, to play the Beast opposite Irishwoman Aiofe McMahon's Beauty. McMahon has also recently been seen at the National in Scenes from the Big Picture, while her other credits include Dancing at Lughnasa, Playboy of the Western World and Andorra.

Also in the 19-strong cast are: John Bowler (as Beauty's father Jean Louis), Philip Aiden, Lee Boggess, Sergio Covino, David Lucas, Barry McNeil, Gary Sefton, Darren Tunstall, Miltos Yerolemou, Dorothy Atkinson, Julie Barnes, Margie Chadwick, Nicola Filshie, Heather Habens, Julie Legrand, Lucy Potter and Sophie Winkleman, as well as eight musicians.

Beauty and the Beast is designed by Jeremy Herbert, with choreography by Stuart Hopps, costumes by Kandis Cook, lighting by Adam Silverman, sound by Mic Pool and music by Mike Sands. It runs at Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 10 December 2003 to 22 February 2004 (previews 1 December).

In other RSC casting news, full details have been announced for Gregory Doran's highly anticipated production of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, which sees Judi Dench return to the company after a decade's absence (See News, 2 Oct 2003).

In addition to Dench (as the Countess of Rossillion) and, as previously confirmed, Claudie Blakley (Helena), Jamie Glover (Bertram) and Guy Henry (Parolles), the cast will include Shelley Conn, Aimee Cowen, Tim Delap, Crhis Geere, Colm Gormley, Jane Maud, Charles Kay, Arthur Kohn, Mark Lambert, Brendan O'Hea, Miles Richardson, Oliver Senton and Sarah Jane Wolverson.

All's Well That Ends Well runs at Stratford's Swan Theatre from 11 December 2003 to 7 February 2004 (previews 3 December), before transferring to the West End's Gielgud Theatre from 18 February to 24 April 2004. The production is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with costumes by Deirdre Clancy, lighting by Paul Pyant and music by Paul Englishby.

- by Terri Paddock

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