Casting Complete for Menier Production of Rookery Nook

News   Casting Complete for Menier Production of Rookery Nook The cast for the Menier Chocolate Factory's new production of the classic 1926 Ben Travers farce Rookery Nook will include Edward Baker-Duly, Lynda Baron, Nick Brimble, Mark Hadfield, Kellie Shirley, Neil Stuke, Clare Wilkie, Sarah Woodward and Alan Thompson.

Performances will begin April 16, prior to an official opening April 29 for a run to June 20.

The previously announced creative team is led by Terry Johnson — the playwright/director who is currently represented in the West End by the transfer of his Olivier Award-winning production of La Cage aux Folles from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Playhouse Theatre — who will direct. Tim Shortall will design the production with lighting by Jason Taylor.

Last seen in the West End in 1986 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, with a cast that included Tom Courtenay, Nichola McAuliffe and Lionel Jeffries, and filmed in 1970 with a cast that included Irene Handl, Richard Briers and Arthur Lowe, the play revolves around newly married playboy Gerald Popkiss, who is on his way to Rookery Nook with his new wife Clara and his mother-in-law. Forced to travel on alone when his mother-in-law suddenly falls sick, Gerald arrives to find quite a commotion. A beautiful young girl has been thrown out of the house next door in nothing but her pink silk pyjamas and begs him to let her stay. Gerald must find the young girl some clothes and, until then, keep her hidden from his sister-in-law Gertrude, who lives nearby, and Rookery Nook's meddling maid, Mrs. Leverett.

Neil Stuke, who plays Gerald, is best known for his TV role as Matthew in BBC1's "Game On." His theatre credits include Boeing-Boeing at the Comedy Theatre, A Night at the Dogs at the Soho Theatre, Blue/Orange at the Duchess and The Bullet at the Donmar Warehouse.

Edward Baker-Duly, who plays Clive, was seen in Trevor Nunn's productions of Gone with the Wind (West End) and South Pacific (National Theatre). Other credits include The Full Monty (Olympia, Dublin). On TV he has been seen in "Emmerdale" and as Mr. Malachay in "Grange Hill." Lynda Baron, who plays Mrs. Leverett, is best known for playing Nurse Gladys in the BBC series "Open All Hours" and was seen in "EastEnders" as Linda Clarke. Her recent stage credits include David Storey's In Celebration (Duke of York's) and The Full Monty (Prince of Wales).

Sarah Woodward, who plays Gertrude, was seen at Shakespeare's Globe in The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors and Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other and Present Laughter for the National Theatre and The Real Thing at the Donmar, then in the West End and on Broadway (where she was nominated for the 2000 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play). In 1998 she won the Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for her role in Tom and Clem at the Aldwych Theatre.

Kellie Shirley, who plays Rhoda, was seen as Carly Wicks in "EastEnders" for two years. Theatre credits include The Miracle and South of Nod for the National Theatre.

Nick Brimble, who plays Putz, was seen in Lear (National Theatre studio) and Macbeth (Bristol Old Vic). He has also worked with the RSC (The Night of the Burning Pestle, Wild Oats) and National (Equus, Weopons of Happiness).

Clare Wilkie, who plays Clara, is best known for her role sas Sandra Di Marco in TV's "EastEnders." Onstage her credits include Dentity Crisis at the King's Head Theatre, Ten Times Table and My Cousin Rachel at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Mark Hadfield, who plays Harold, was recently seen in the RSC productions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other theatre credits include Therese Raquin for the National Theatre, for which he was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor, The 39 Steps at The West Yorkshire Playhouse and The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre.

Alan Thompson, who plays Juddy, has been seen in the U.K. tour of Me and My Girl and West Side Story and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Forum at the Theatre Royal York.

Terry Johnson is a literary associate at the Royal Court Theatre, where he directed Joe Penhall's Dumb Show and premiered his own plays Insigificance, Hysteria (subsequently transferring to the Duke of York's), Hitchcock Blonde (subsequently transferring to the West End's Lyric) and Piano/Forte. Other original plays include Dead Funny (Hampstead Theatre, then the Vaudeville and Savoy) and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick (National's Lytelton Theatre), as wel as stage adaptations of Edward Ravenscroft's London Cuckholds (for the National) and Charles Webb's The Graduate (West End and Broadway). In addition to directing many of his own plays, his directorial credits include productions of Rain Man, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Entertaining Mr. Sloane. At Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre he has directed Stephen Jeffreys' The Libertine and Lost Land.

Travers' other plays include The Bed Before Yesterday, Plunder, A Cup of Kindness, Spotted Dick and Thark. In 1996 Travers was the recipient of the Evening Standard Special Award for his work in the theatre. Travers' Rookery Nook was first performed at the Aldwych Theatre in 1926, and in 1970 it was filmed for the BBC with a cast including Irene Handl, Richard Briers and Arthur Lowe.

To book tickets contact the box office at 020 7907 7060 or visit www.menierchocolatefactory.com.