The Theatre Royal Windsor’s summer season will open with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Sean Mathias and starring Ian McKellen in an age-blind interpretation of the young Prince. The venue’s first major new production to be staged following lockdown will run from 21 June 2021 until 4 September.
Produced by Bill Kenwright, Hamlet heralds Mathias’ inaugural season at Theatre Royal Windsor and will be followed by Martin Sherman’s adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard (10 September to 23 October), with McKellen as Firs the elderly manservant.
The cast also includes: Ben Allen, Francesca Annis, Steven Berkoff, Emmanuella Cole, Llinos Daniel, Alis Wyn Davies, Ashley D Gayle, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Lee Knight, Missy Malek and Jenny Seagrove.
Joining Mathias in the creative team are set designer Lee Newby, costume designer Loren Elstein, lighting designer Zoe Spurr and composer and sound designer Adam Cork.
The production actually went into rehearsal eight months ago but could not proceed when new restrictions were put in place due to the UK’s second wave of Covid-19. Rehearsals will start again next week, with strict measures remaining in place to ensure the safety of the company.
Sean Mathias said: “The return of British theatre from the long dark night of Covid-19 has rightly been one of our biggest cultural conversations of the last year. Now, as more rays of hope begin to appear, everyone in the industry is determined to help our precious artform explode back into life. We trust that by bringing together this exceptional ensemble to present two of the greatest plays of all time we will play our part in this revival, and on a personal note I can’t think of a more invigorating way to mark my first season as artistic director of the Theatre Royal Windsor Season.”
Ian McKellen said:
“I’ve acted in both these masterpieces before – and seen them scores of times. They are in that select group of classic plays which bear, even demand, a regular look, even reappraisal, by actors, directors, producers – and audiences. How can Hamlet be played by an 80 year old? I hope theatre-starved audiences will want to find out!”
Bill Kenwright said: “Sean, Ian and I started this journey, during the first lockdown last summer. At that time it was not to be, but while we will continue to work in steadfast accordance with government and scientific guidelines, and the safety of all our priority, we are hugely optimistic that our rehearsals will lead us to a pretty historic opening on June 21 at 7:30pm.”