Kerry Ellis will star as Gwendolen, her first non-singing role, in the 2018 UK tour of Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford, Courtyard Theatre Hereford, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Belfast Grand Opera House, Theatre Royal Bath and Manchester Opera House. Hannah Louise Howell will play Gwendolen at all other venues. They will be joined by Geoff Aymer, Louise Coulthard, Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke and Simon Shackleton, playing Chasuble, Cecily, Algernon, Jack and Lane/Merriman respectively.
They join the previously announced Gwen Taylor as Lady Bracknell and Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism. The tour will begin on 24 January at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, ending on 28 April in Eastbourne.
Renowned theatre star and recording artist, Kerry Ellis is best known for originating the role of Meat, in Queen’s We Will Rock You and was the first British actress to play Elphaba in Wicked, for which Kerry won the 2008 What’s on Stage Award for ‘Best Takeover in a Role’. She then played the role at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway for six months, where she won the Broadway.com Audience Award for ‘Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance’. Her other West End theatre work includes Sara in Murder Ballad at The Arts Theatre, Nancy in Oliver!, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Fantine in Les Misérables and she took over from Nicole Scherzinger in the role of Grizabella in Cats. Kerry has achieved chart-topping success as a recording artist, releasing four albums and touring the UK and Europe with Brian May of Queen.
Hannah Louise Howell’s theatre credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Alastair Whatley earlier this year at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Engineers Blue (Brass Works Theatre, Bristol), Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Ludlow Assembly Rooms), Mermaid (Swan Theatre, Worcester), Much Ado About Nothing (The Regal, Tenbury Wells) and Ghosts (Courtyard Theatre).
Geoff Aymer most recently appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Young Vic. His other theatre credits include To Kill A Mockingbird(Regents Park Open Air, National Tour, Barbican), The Lightning Child and MacBeth (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Driving Miss Daisy (The Canal Cafe and Frinton Summer Theatre). Geoff’s Television credits include Guerilla (Sky Atlantic and Showtime) and Eastenders (BBC 1).
Louise Coulthard won the Lustrum Award at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe for her play, Cockamamy. Her theatre credits include House and Garden (The Watermill Theatre), The Late Wedding (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Dreams of Home (Theatre Royal Stratford East).
Thomas Howes is best known for playing William Mason in ITV’s Downton Abbey. He has since appeared as Yashvin in the 2012 film adaptation of Anna Karenina and played Winston Churchill in Murdoch Mysteries (ITV). His theatre credits include Ratty in The Wind in the Willows: The Musical (UK Tour), The Mousetrap (Original UK Tour), The Winslow Boy (Theatre Royal Bath) and The History Boys (National Theatre/ West End).
Peter Sandys-Clarke’s theatre credits include Ronald Storrs in Ross (Chichester Festival Theatre), Peter Gilbert in The Browning Version (Theatre Royal Bath and tour), Gerald in When We Are Married (Garrick Theatre), Jerry in A Daughter’s a Daughter (Trafalgar Studios), Withers in The Letter (Wyndham’s Theatre and tour) and Raleigh in Journey’s End (Playhouse Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre). His TV work includes The Royals (E!), The Crown (Netflix) and Indian Summers (Channel 4).
Simon Shackleton most recently played Professor Christopher Riley in the UK tour of Shadowlands, directed by Alastair Whatley. His other theatre credits include Journey’s End (West End and UK tour), An Ideal Husband (Northampton Repertory Theatre), As You Like It (Bridewell Theatre), Blithe Spirit (Chichester Festival Theatre). Simon has appeared in EastEnders (BBC), Silk (BBC), The Queen (Blast Films), Lewis (ITV) and Torchwood (BBC).
Oscar Wilde’s greatly admired and much loved comedy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST follows Jack Worthing’s endeavours to marry Algernon’s cousin, the beautiful Gwendolen. But first he must convince the fearsome Lady Bracknell of his respectability. Wilde’s classic play looks at the clash of town and country in a story of romance, identity, perambulators and capacious handbags.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST will be directed by The Original Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Alastair Whatley, with set and costume designs by Gabriella Slade, sound and music by Giles Thomas and lighting by Alan Valentine. The UK tour is produced by Tom Hackney for The Original Theatre Company.
OTHER NEWS: A production (by Classic Spring) of The Importance of Being Earnest will be at London’s Vaudeville Theatre from 20th July to 20th October 2018. Casting to be announced. Classic Spring is a new theatre company, formed by Dominic Dromgoole (former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) to celebrate the bold and groundbreaking work of proscenium playwrights in the architecture for which they wrote.
2018 TOUR SCHEDULE
24 January – 3 February Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford 01483 440000
5 – 10 February Courtyard Theatre, Hereford 01432 340555
13 – 17 February Theatre Royal Plymouth 01752 267222
20 – 24 February Belfast Grand Opera House 028 9024 1919
27 February – 3 March Bath Theatre Royal 01225 448844
5 – 10 March Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440
13 – 17 March Manchester Opera House 0844 871 3018
20 – 24 March Salisbury Playhouse 01722 320333
27 – 31 March Lichfield Garrick Theatre 01543 412121
3 – 7 April Churchill Theatre, Bromley 020 3285 6000
9 – 14 April Cambridge Arts Theatre 01223 503333
17 – 21 April York Theatre Royal 01904 623568
www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk On sale soon
24 – 28 April Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne 01323 412000