Summertime in Staffordshire is nearly here, and with the hotly anticipated Stafford Festival Shakespeare (SFS) just around the corner the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre team have announced the full cast list for the 2016 production of Othello.
Due to be performed once again in the magical, open-air surroundings of Stafford Castle from Thursday 23rd June – Saturday 9th July, the year’s SFS setting will transport audiences to the foreign shores of Italy and Cyprus during the rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1950s.
Widely regarded as one of The Bard’s finest tragedies, Othello tells the story of two mismatched lovers as the young Desdemona falls for and secretly marries the exotic military Commander and eponymous character, Othello. Despite the seemingly impenetrable bond between the two lovers, Othello ultimately falls under the influence of the manipulative Iago, whose Machiavellian scheming eventually brings about the play’s tragic conclusion.
Taking the title role in this year’s SFS production is Oliver Wilson, who trained at the East 15 Acting School. Oliver’s first professional production was Seven Ages of Poetry with the RSC, and it was there he discovered his love for Shakespeare and classical text. He has also featured in several popular TV series, such as Cradle to Grave (BBC), as well as Hollyoaks and Misfits (both C4).
Starring alongside Wilson in the respective roles of Desdemona and Iago are Madeleine Lesley and Niall Costigan. Lesley trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and her recent theatre credits include Hard Times and Dancing at Lughnasa at the acclaimed Tobacco Factory Theatre. Costigan graduated from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and is no stranger to Shakespeare having appeared in Macbeth at the Liverpool Everyman and Claudio in Much Ado about Nothing for page2stage.
Elsewhere, the superb supporting cast includes a number of fine performers. Taking the role of Bianca, Molly Gromadzki was born in Shrewsbury and studied at Wolverhampton Grammar school before eventually training at RADA. She will be joined by two other cast members who share a connection to the local area. Nathan Turner, who will play Montano, attended St John’s RC Primary School in Alton, Staffordshire; and Reece Richardson was born and initially grew up in Burton-upon-Trent, and will take the role of Lodovico.
Local audiences will also be pleased to hear of the return of a familiar face in T. J. Holmes, who will play the roles of Clown and Bandleader in SFS 2016. Having appeared most recently as Dame Dolly Dumplings in the Jack and the Beanstalk rock ‘n’ roll pantomime earlier this year, T.J. has similarly featured in four other Stafford Gatehouse Theatre productions. However, this will be his first appearance at SFS.
Also set to perform are James Lawrence as Casio, Hester Arden as Emilia, Howard Chadwick as Brabantio, George Johnston as Roderigo, Katy Sobey as Brabantio’s maid and Singer, Jamie Noar as the Duke of Venice and Thomas Wolstenholme as Gratiano.
“We are very pleased to welcome so many new faces to this year’s festival,” explained Derrick Gask, SFS Producer and Artistic Programme Manager at Stafford Gatehouse.
“This is an incredibly talented cast with members from both the local area and further afield. Tickets are already proving very popular at the box office and I anticipate this being one of our best Stafford Festival Shakespeare productions for some time.”
Alongside the cast is a brand new creative team, including director Clare Prenton who has directed open air Shakespeare productions for the British Shakespeare Company and The RJ Williamson Company. Originally from Liverpool, and a member of the Everyman and Playhouse youth theatres, Clare studied at Leeds and Hull Universities before undergoing training at the Royal National Theatre Young Directors Course. Following a hugely successful early career in theatre, in 2008 she became Associate and Understudy for Sir Alan Ayckbourn and the Stephen Joseph Theatre Company on UK tours of Communicating Doors, Life of Riley, Life and Beth, A Trip to Scarborough and Roundelay.
Joining Prenton is BAFTA Scotland nominated set designer Francis Collier, and Musical Director Craig Adams will also be returning to Stafford Gatehouse following his work on the last five rock ‘n’ roll pantomimes. As an arranger and Musical Director, Craig has worked on numerous concerts, musicals and albums, such as Kerry Ellis (Self-titled new album); No Space for Air & Rush Of Life (Julie Atherton); The Franks; Lift – Original Concept Album; and Therese Raquin – Original Cast Album. Craig’s recent theatre credits include Therese Raquin at Finborough Theatre and Park Theatre, Soul Music Rose Theatre, and Lift for Soho Theatre for which he received a WhatsOnStage nomination for best original score 2014.
2016 marks 26 years of the Stafford Festival Shakespeare, which has quickly become one of the largest open air Shakespeare productions in Europe. Othello is set to be the theatre’s boldest production yet.
Othello opens on Thursday 23rd June and runs until Saturday 9th July 2016.
Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordfestivalshakespeare.co.uk