The in-house company at Storyhouse in Chester has arrived at the new £37m cultural centre as the countdown to opening night reaches its final stages.
It is the largest rep company in the UK outside the RSC or National Theatre.
A total of 26 actors, two trainees and three musicians make up the company which will perform the opening four productions at Chester’s new theatre, cinema and library.
Storyhouse opens on May 11 with a new version of The Beggar’s Opera which will run in rep with Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar until August 27.
The company will divide evenly between the Shakespeare shows and reimagined versions of The Beggar’s Opera and Alice in Wonderland. In a unique innovation Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar will also be performed at the award-winning Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.
Artistic director at Storyhouse Alex Clifton said: “It was an absolute joy to see our incredibly talented company standing on the Storyhouse stage. We have a joyous season ahead and cannot wait for our audiences to join them inside the theatre.”
Jonathan Dryden Taylor, playing Lockit in The Beggar’s Opera, said: “I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to be one of the first actors on the Storyhouse stage. The building as a whole feels like an example of what the arts could and should be.”
Countdown to curtain up
Rebecca Birch, who plays Alice in director Derek Bond’s Alice in Wonderland, said: “It is so exciting to be a part of such a brilliant company and so special to be the first bunch to tread the boards of the Storyhouse stage.”
Daniel Goode, who returns to Chester after playing Mr Toad in the Wind in the Willows and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, said: “Two years ago, as a member of the 2015 company, I saw work begin on Storyhouse, so to be invited to be a part of the 2017 company launching the newly completed theatre is a real honour.”
Daniel plays Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera.
Caolan McCarthy, who plays the Beggar in The Beggar’s Opera, said: “It’s a real honour to be part of the inaugural rep company at Storyhouse. To get the chance to open a brand new theatre, and one as incredible as this, is a once in a life time opportunity.”
The cast includes several actors returning to Chester, including Daniel Goode, Thomas Richardson, Tom Connor, Charlotte Miranda-Smith, Fred Lancaster, Natalie Grady and Adam Keast.
Performing in the Shakespearean productions are Stephanie Hockley, Meriel Scholfield, Richard Pepper, Christopher Staines, Anne Odeke and Christopher Wright.
In Glyn Maxwell’s reimagined Alice in Wonderland and The Beggar’s Opera are Baker Mukasa, Charlotte Gorton, Vanessa Schofield and Jonathan Dryden Taylor.
Elsewhere, actors will make debuts for Storyhouse including Nancy Sullivan, Barbara Hockaday, Caolan McCarthy, Alex Mugnaioni, Emily Johnstone, Bianca Stephens, Anna Leong Brophy, Rebecca Birch and James Weaver.
Alongside the 26 professional actors, two performers are making their professional debut: graduates from Storyhouse’s Young Theatre Company were auditioned and selected for the unique opportunity to be trainees in the Shakespearean productions.
Alex McGonagle and Olivia Hackland will play Flute and Starveling respectively in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and minor roles in Julius Caesar.
Alex Clifton will direct The Beggar’s Opera and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Derek Bond (Sweet Charity at the Royal Exchange Theatre) will direct Alice in Wonderland and Loveday Ingram (The Rover at the RSC) Julius Caesar.
Tickets are on sale now - go to storyhouse.com to find out more.