Casting announced for Blenheim Palace Summer of Shakespeare

  • Dave Fishley (recently seen in the West End as ‘William III’ in Queen Anne at the Theatre Royal Haymarket) to play ‘Richard’ in Richard III
  • Alex Avery (series regular in many long running TV shows including Doctors, The Bill and EastEnders) as ‘Macbeth’
  • Emilio Iannucci and Ella Dunlop to play the star-crossed lovers in Romeo & Juliet
  • And returning from last year’s SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE is Paul Hawkyard as ‘Bottom’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, the award-winning pop-up Shakespearean Theatre, today announces full casting and creative team for its Blenheim Palace nine-week season, following a hugely successful inaugural run at its original site in York in 2018.

The 13-sided Elizabethan-style playhouse – complete with an Elizabethan village – will be constructed over a three-week period in the glorious grounds of ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’ where, in its Oxfordshire home, it will run from 8 July until 7 September, performing four of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

The Blenheim Palace company will be reviving the productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth as experienced in York last year as well as creating exciting new productions of Romeo & Juliet and Richard III.

The plays have been selected from across the genres, offering something for everyone, and will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors.

Making up the 19-strong Macbeth/A Midsummer Night’s Dream company at Blenheim Palace are Nana Amoo-Gottfried (Ross & Lysander), Alex Avery (Macbeth & Snug), Ellie Burrow (Lady Macduff/Young Siward & Fairy Queen/Peaseblossom), Charlie Cameron (Witch 3/Murderer 2/Scottish Doctor & Puck), Christopher Chilton (Witch 1/Murderer 1/Messenger & Snout/Fairy), Suzy Cooper (Lady Macbeth & Peter Quince), Claire Cordier (Hecate/Gentlewoman/Messenger/Seyton & Hippolyta/Oberon), Maria Gray (Donalbain/Witch 2/Murderer 3 & First Fairy/Cobweb), Paul Hawkyard (Macduff & Bottom), Adam Kane (Malcolm & Fairy), Tom Kanji (Old Man/Siward/Apparition 3 & Theseus/Titania), Mark Peachey (Banquo & Demetrius), Shane Quigley Murphy (Lennox & Starveling/Fairy/Moth), Adam Slynn (Captain/Apparition 2/Servant & Philostrate/Mustardseed/Fairy King), Paul Stonehouse (Duncan/Porter/English Doctor & Egeus/Fairy), Toby Vaughan (Swing/Cover & Flute/Fairy), Elexi Walker (Angus/Lord/Messenger & Helena), Jenny Wall (Apparition 3 & Fairy), and Francesca Zoutwelle (Apparition 1/Menteith & Hermia).

Making up the 19-strong Romeo & Juliet/Richard III company at Blenheim Palace are Bonnie Baddoo (Prologue/Balthasar & Lady Anne/Messenger 2/Soldier/Oxford), James Bradwell (Friar Laurence & Archbishop of York/Bishop of Ely/Priest/Oxford), Matthew Brown (Peter/Page & Soldier/Sheriff/Blunt), Daniel Burke (Paris/Officer & Brackenbury/Ratcliffe), Jonathan Christie (Mercutio/Officer & Dorset/Soldier), Grace Cookey-Gam (Princess Escalus & Duchess of York/Herbert/Soldier), James Coutsvalis (Swing), Ella Dunlop (Juliet & Rivers/Messenger 3/Page/Surrey/Soldier), Dave Fishley (Sampson & Richard III), Mathilda Holland (Swing), Emilio Iannucci (Romeo & Grey/Messenger 4/Brandon/Soldier/Citizen 3), John Macaulay (Capulet & Clarence/Lovel), William Mannering (Abraham/Friar John/Constable  & Buckingham), Doireann May White (Benvolia & Hastings/Alderman/Messenger/Soldier), Anna Northam (Lady Montague/Apothecary & Catesby/Soldier), Amanda Ryan (Lady Capulet & Queen Elizabeth), Jay Saighal (Tylbalt/Officer & Richmond/Tyrell/Murderer 2/Corpse), Nicola Sanderson (Nurse & Derby/Gaol Keeper/Soldier/Citizen 1), and Simon Startin (Montague & Edward IV/Lord Mayor).

Damian Cruden returns to SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, having directed Macbeth last year in York. This year he will serve as overall artistic director for both companies.  Tom Wright will be Associate Director for Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Juliet Forster, who was the original director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, will turn her skills to directing Romeo & Juliet this year. Amy Yardley will be associate scenic designer for both Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and scenic designer for Romeo & Juliet. Sarah Mercade will be costume designer for Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo & Juliet. Lucy Pitman-Wallace will direct Richard III, which will have scenic and costume design by Adam Nee.

Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE, said “I am absolutely delighted that once again the creative team has found a cast of such stunningly high calibre for our  Shakespeare plays and I’m sure that the audiences in Oxfordshire will really enjoy and appreciate their talents.

The Blenheim Palace season will be co-presented by Raymond Gubbay Ltd, who have a wealth of experience promoting events and concerts worldwide, including the popular ‘Christmas at Blenheim Palace’ illuminated trail and Cinderella experience.

The Shakespearean theatre will be constructed using state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber.  Inspired by the famous London Rose Playhouse built in 1587, 12 years prior to The Globe, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE will house an audience of 900, with 560 seated in three covered tiers around an open-roofed courtyard with standing room for 340 ‘groundlings’. The theatre will be located within a Shakespearean village, a rustic rural scene complete with village pond, farm wagons and carts, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the event.