Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre has announced the full cast of its upcoming musical- a brand-new production of The Lord Of The Rings, a musical tale based on the classic trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, with book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and music by A.R. Rahman (Bombay Dreams, Slumdog Millionaire), Värttinä and Tony Award winner and Grammy nominated Christopher Nightingale (Matilda the Musical).
With the production set across both the Watermill auditorium and gardens, audiences will be immersed in the magical landscape of Middle-earth, joining an ensemble cast and large-scale puppets on an epic journey celebrating the power of friendship and common goodness to conquer unimaginable evil.
The cast includes Folarin Akinmade (Perfect Show for Rachel – The Pit, Barbican) as ‘Gimli’, Matthew Bugg (Zorro the Musical – Charing Cross Theatre) as ‘Gollum’, Reece Causton (Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man – UK Tour) as ‘Ensemble’, Kelly Coughlin (Avenue 5 – HBO/Sky) as ‘Ensemble’, Geraint Downing (A Christmas Carol – The Old Vic Theatre) as ‘Merry’, Peter Dukes (Brief Encounter – Empire, Haymarket) as ‘Boromir’.
Also on the bill is Amelia Gabriel (Ride – VAULT Festival) as ‘Pippin’, Tom Giles (Miss Littlewood – Royal Shakespeare Company) as ‘Elrond/Saruman’, Charlotte Grayson (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Rosie’, Nuwan Hugh Perera (Life of Pi – Wyndham’s Theatre, West End) as ‘Sam’, Bridget Lappin (The Rhinegold – English National Opera) as ‘Ensemble/Dance Captain’, Georgia Louise (Tammy Faye – Almeida Theatre) as ‘Galadriel’.
The cast is completed with Elliot Mackenzie (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Ensemble’, Peter Marinker (Judge Dredd, Love, Actually, Labyrinth) as ‘Gandalf’, Louis Maskell (The Grinning Man – Bristol Old Vic & Trafalgar Studios, West End) as ‘Frodo’, Aoife O’Dea (Innocence – Royal Opera House) as ‘Arwen’, John O’Mahony (Fisherman’s Friends the Musical, UK Tour) as ‘Bilbo’, Yazdan Qafouri (The Band – Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End) as ‘Legolas’, Sioned Saunders (Amélie – Criterion Theatre, West End & The Watermill Theatre) as ‘Ensemble/Onstage Musical Director’ and Aaron Sidwell (EastEnders – BBC, Wicked – UK Tour) as ‘Aragorn’.
As the Hobbits celebrate Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first birthday, he gifts his nephew Frodo his inheritance – including his most precious belonging – a gold ring. Little does he know that his legacy will confront Frodo with an immense and impossible task; a perilous journey across the darkest realms of Mordor to foil the Dark Lord’s quest for total dominion.
Paul Hart said, “Welcoming the cast and creative teams into rehearsals this week has been hugely exciting. The Lord of the Rings is one of the most epic stories ever written, and our production will hopefully bring audiences closer to the heart of this story than ever before – both figuratively and literally in our intimate 200-seat theatre.
“What’s central to this production is that we’re telling it through the perspective of the Hobbits, and hopefully, audiences will experience our depiction of Middle-earth with the same awe and wonderment. We’re so fortunate to be working with an incredible creative team and a truly multi-skilled group of performers, and we’re determined to make a piece of theatre that will live long in the memory of all who see it!”
Claire Murray said, “For twelve weeks, we are welcoming audiences to experience this incredible musical in our very special corner of West Berkshire.
“We’re so excited to welcome new audiences to the theatre, coming from far and wide to visit our beautiful grounds for the first time, as well as our wonderful and loyal audiences who have visited us many times before to see us using our space in a new and exciting way.
“With the design of the show spilling out from the theatre across our gardens, audiences will be welcomed into the Shire for dinner and drinks in our Restaurant or Garden Café on the lawn before joining in the celebrations for Bilbo’s birthday, which marks the start of the show.
“Any production is a team effort, and we’re so grateful to our wider community for their support, particularly those who are so kindly hosting our thirty-strong company this summer and all those who are sharing in our excitement.”
Fredrica Drotos, Director of Brand and Licensing at Middle-earth Enterprises, added: “Middle-earth Enterprises, along with our good partners at Kevin Wallace Ltd, can’t imagine a more fitting locale for the live staging of the Fellowship’s epic adventures from the Shire to Mordor, and back again, than at the Watermill Theatre, set in the bucolic Berkshire countryside.”
The Lord of the Rings will be directed by Paul Hart with design by Simon Kenny, Musical Supervision and Orchestrations by Mark Aspinall, Choreography by Anjali Mehra, Lighting Design by Rory Beaton, Sound Design by Adam Fisher, Projection Design by George Reeve, Associate Directed by Sibylla Archdale Kalid, Puppet Design by Charlie Tymms, and Puppetry Direction by Ashleigh Cheadle. The stage management team are Cat Pewsey (CSM), Katie Newton (DSM), Natalie Toney and Fern Bamber (ASMs) with -Leila Stephenson (ASM Placement).
The Watermill is a 200-seat regional theatre with an unparalleled reputation for producing bold, world-class theatre with local and national reach from its home in West Berkshire. It also has an extensive programme of community outreach and schools touring work and a firm commitment to inclusion, environmental sustainability and talent development.
The Lord of the Rings will play at the Watermill from Tuesday, 25 July, until Sunday, 15 October 2023. Tickets are on sale via watermill.org.uk/the-lord-of-the-rings.