Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has confirmed the initial principal casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel which plays from 31 July to 25 September 2021. Carly Bawden and Declan Bennett play Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, John Pfumojena plays Enoch Snow, Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding plays Nettie Fowler and Natasha May Thomas plays Louise Bigelow.
Artistic Director Timothy Sheader said:
“As with our previous reimagining of classic musicals, I am excited to remove the rose-tinted specs and examine this amazing piece through a 2021 lens. With new orchestrations by Tom Deering and Drew McOnie’s distinctive choreographic language rethinking the role of dance in the storytelling, we look forward to inviting a new audience to Carousel. It’s also important to us that, because of the story and content of Carousel, we are able to support the vital work of Refuge.”
Refuge is committed to a world where domestic violence and violence against women and girls is not tolerated and where women and children can live in safety. They support over 6,500 women and children on any given day, aiming to empower them to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear.
Sheader is joined in the creative team by Joanna Bowman (associate director), Lucy Casson (casting director), Tom Deering (musical supervisor and orchestrator), Mark Dickman (associate musical director), Molly Einchcomb (co-costume designer), Annie May Fletcher (creative team associate – sound), Barbara Houseman (season associate director/voice and text director), Nick Lidster (sound designer), Simisola Majekodunmi (creative team associate – lighting), Aideen Malone (lighting designer), Drew McOnie (choreographer), Ebony Molina (associate choreographer), Verity Naughton (children’s casting director), James Orange (casting director), Tom Scutt (set designer and co-costume designer), Jacob Sparrow (casting director) and Kate Waters (fight director).
Annie May Fletcher and Simisola Majekodunmi are taking part in the theatre’s inaugural Creative Team Associates programme, providing jobs for artists early in their career to broaden their experience of making large-scale work and in the process be supported and mentored by the season’s lead creatives.
Carly Bawden (Julie Jordan) most recently played Angélique in Romantics Anonymous at Bristol Old Vic, having created the role at Shakespeare’s Globe. Other recent theatre credits include: Ghost Quartet (Boulevard), Sylvia, Natives (Old Vic), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), Wonder.Land (National Theatre), McQueen (Haymarket), Assassins, Pippin (Menier), Dead Dog in a Suitcase and Tristan & Yseult (Kneehigh). Recent television credits include: Call The Midwife and Close to the Enemy.
Declan Bennett (Billy Bigelow) returns to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre following his performance as Jesus in the multi-award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Recent theatre credits also include: Love Actually Live! for which he was nominated for an LA Stage Alliance Award as Featured Actor in a Musical (Los Angeles), The View Upstairs (Soho), Striking 12 (Union), Fatherland (Lyric Hammersmith/Frantic Assembly), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Donmar), Once (Phoenix) and, on Broadway, Rent and American Idiot. Bennett is also known for playing Charlie Cotton in EastEnders.
John Pfumojena (Enoch Snow) recently appeared in Do You Love Me Yet? (Oxford Playhouse) and was composer and musical director for Volpone (Tangle Theatre Company). He played the title role in Peter Pan (National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic/Troubadour), appeared in Bent (National Theatre) and Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe). Pfumojena won the Broadway World’s Regional Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play and an OBIE (NYC) Special Citation Award for The Jungle (Young Vic/Playhouse/Good Chance Theatre, St Ann’s Warehouse NYC/San Francisco Curran Theatre).
Joanna Riding (Nettie Fowler) recently played Sally in Follies (National) and Romantics Anonymous (Shakespeare’s Globe). Other credits include Blithe Spirit (Bath and Savoy), Mrs Cheveley in An Ideal Husband, Maggie in Hobson’s Choice (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Melissa in the TV series Stella (Sky). Riding won Olivier Awards as Eliza in My Fair Lady (Drury Lane) and as Julie in Carousel (National and Shaftesbury).
Natasha May Thomas (Louise Bigelow) recently graduated from The Urdang Academy. Carousel marks her professional debut.