Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has today announced lead casting for two of its forthcoming summer 2016 productions: Michelle Terry will play the title role of Henry V in director Robert Hastie’s new gender-bending production; and former Once star Declan Bennett (pictured above) will lead the cast in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s Artistic Director Timothy Sheader.
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Hastie
17 June – 9 July 2016
Press Night Wednesday 22 June (19:45)
“Follow your spirit: and upon this charge, Cry — God for Harry! England and Saint George!”
Olivier Award-winning actress Michelle Terry plays the title role in Henry V. With a wealth of Shakespearean roles to her credit, Terry takes on the role of King Henry in this new production as part of Shakespeare400. Terry is most noted for her numerous roles at The Globe, RSC and the National Theatre (currently appearing in Cleansed), as well as Privacy (Donmar Warehouse) and Before the Party (Almeida). In 2011 she was awarded ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ at the Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in the Royal Court Theatre production of Tribes.
Under the direction of Donmar Associate Director Robert Hastie (Splendour, My Night with Reg), Henry V opens for previews from 17 June, with a press night on 22 June 2016. The production is designed by Anna Fleischle who is nominated for an Olivier Award for Hangmen having recently won the Evening Standard Award for the same production.
As England triumphs at the Battle of Agincourt during her quest to win the French crown, Henry V becomes one of the great warrior kings leading “we happy few, we band of brothers” in Shakespeare’s retelling of this famous victory.
Henry V director Robert Hastie comments:
“Michelle has the compassion, the wit and the imagination that mark out the really great Shakespearean actors. I’m thrilled by what she’ll bring to Henry. There’s no one I’d like to see play this part more.
“It’s tremendously exciting that we are collectively rethinking who has access to Shakespeare’s great roles. Henry V is a study in leadership and who we think is entitled to lead, as well as being a play about war and peace and England’s place in the world. This summer we’re expecting the results of a MOD consultation that aims to put female soldiers on the front line of combat, as well as the publication at last of the Chilcott report into why our country goes to war, and who we trust to take us there.
“As he has done pretty much every year since he died 400 years ago, Shakespeare is proving himself our contemporary. Our first night is the day before the EU referendum. I can’t think of a better time to stage this play about England’s relationship with its European neighbours.”
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Timothy Sheader
15 July – 27 August 2016
Press Night Thursday 21 July (19:45)
Declan Bennett leads the cast in the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The original lead in the London cast of Once (Phoenix), Bennett has also appeared in Boy George’s musical Taboo (Venue Theatre), RENT (US tour and Broadway), American Idiot (Broadway) as well as on BBC’s EastEnders as Charlie Cotton.
As a solo singer-songwriter, his latest album Record:BREAKUP was released as a live acoustic version in 2013. He achieved five UK Top 20 singles, and a UK Top 20 album with Brit Award nominated boy band Point Break.
Celebrating 45 years since Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s seminal musical first hit the stage, Jesus Christ Superstar is directed by Artistic Director Timothy Sheader and has a legendary score including I Don’t Know How to Love Him, Gethsemane and Superstar. Musical direction is by Tom Deering (Made in Dagenham, From Here to Eternity), design by Tom Scutt (Constellations, Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and choreography by Drew McOnie (Jekyll & Hyde and Olivier Award nominee for Best Choreographer for In The Heights).
Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director comments:
“Casting the iconic roles of Jesus and Henry V was about finding voices which would foster a new engagement with the stories. Declan’s music background brings a particular skill set and authenticity to this gig-like production of the show, and his past stage work in Rent, American Idiot and Once makes his Jesus a particularly exciting prospect.”
Further casting for Henry V and Jesus Christ Superstar to be announced.
The 2016 season also includes Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, adapted for the stage by Samuel Adamson (13 May – 12 June) and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, adapted for the stage by Simon Reade.