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Cast: Open Air Reunites Dee & Rowe, Two Dreams

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Olivier Award winners Janie Dee (pictured) and Clive Rowe will reunite this summer at the Open Air Theatre (See News, 11 Jan 2008). Dee and Rowe were both nominated for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical at the 1993 Oliivers for the same production, Carousel at the National Theatre (Dee won – though Rowe later won the same prize for the NT’s Guys and Dolls).

In Regent’s Park, they’ll swap musical for Shakespearean verse to play Olivia and fool Feste in Edward Dick’s production of Twelfth Night, which joins the rep from 13 June to 30 July 2008 (previews from 4 June). Dee was in the West End earlier this year opposite Charles Dance in William Nicholson’s play Shadowlands. Rowe’s more recent stage credits include Caroline, Or Change, Into the Woods and the Hackney Empire annual pantos.

Twelfth Night is one of three Shakespeares in Timothy Sheader’s inaugural season as artistic director of the Open Air Theatre. Sheader himself will direct Romeo and Juliet, which opens the season running from 9 June to 2 August 2008 (previews from 2 June) while director and choreographer Dominic Leclerc will completely rework A Midsummer Night’s Dream, running from 12 July to 2 August 2008 (previews from 8 July), as a fast-paced, 75-minute physical production suitable for a young audience, aged six years and up. All three Shakespeares will be performed in rep by an ensemble cast on a shared set designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.

In addition to Dee and Rowe – who in fact will only appear in Twelfth Night - the Park’s 2008 Shakespeare ensemble will include: Laura Donnelly (Juliet, Hermia in Dream), Nicholas Shaw (Romeo, Lysander in Twelfth Night), Annette McLaughlin (Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Helena/Titania in Dream) and Ben Joiner (Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Oberon in Dream) as well as Claire Benedict, Jennifer Bryden, Richard Cotton, Andy Cryer, Natalie Dew, Matthew Hart, Clive Hayward, Ben Ingles, Neet Mohan, Harry Myers, Richard O’Callaghan, Oscar Pearce, Annalisa Rossi, Dale Superville, Marcello Walton, David Whitworth, Leon Williams and Tim Woodward.

For the Open Air’s musical this summer, Linda Thorson – currently on tour in Equus and best known to TV fans from The Avengers and Emmerdale - will take the part of Aunt Alicia in Sheader’s revival of Gigi, which as previously announced (See News, 15 Apr 2008), also stars Lisa O'Hare (as Gigi), Topol (Honore) and Millicent Martin (Mamita). The Lerner and Loewe musical runs from 6 August to 13 September 2008.

In other Shakespeare casting, details have been announced for two more Dreams. First up, running in rep at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 15 May to 13 November 2008 (previews from 9 May), is the Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is directed by RSC chief associate director Gregory Doran, who will direct members of the same company in the David Tennant-led productions of Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost later in the year (See News, 11 Sep 2007).

The RSC company includes: Peter de Jersey (as Oberon), Andrea Harris (Titania), Mark Hadfield (Puck), Tom Davey (Lysander), Edward Bennett (Demetrius), Kathryn Drysdale (Hermia), Natalie Walter (Helena) and Joe Dixon (Bottom). Critics’ Circle and Ian Charleson Award winner Mariah Gale, most recently in the West End in The Sea at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, will play First Fairy in this production before appearing opposite David Tennant on the same stage as Ophelia in Hamlet, from 24 July to 15 November 2008.

In London at the Globe - where Jonathan Munby’s production of A Midsummer Night's Dream runs in rep from 21 May to 4 October 2008 (previews from 10 May) as part of the “Totus Mondus” season – RSC veterans Siobhan Redmond and Tom Mannion will play, respectively, Titiana/Hippolyta and Oberon/Theseus. The cast will also feature: musical star Michael Jibson (as Puck), Paul Hunter (Bottom), Christopher Brandon (Lysander), Pippa Nixon (Hermia), Oliver Boot (Demetrius) and Laura Rogers (Helena).

Further ahead in the Totus Mondus season, Christopher Luscombe will direct the Globe’s first production of The Merry Wives of Windsor with a cast including Christopher Benjamin (as Falstaff), Serena Evans (Mistress Page), Sarah Woodward (Mistress Ford) and Sue Wallace (Mistress Quickly). It runs in rep from 18 June to 5 October 2008 (previews from 8 June).

- by Terri Paddock


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