Twelfth Night begins performances at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre Oct. 15 (prior to an official opening Oct. 21), and plays a continuous run through Nov. 21. It then transfers to London, beginning performances Dec. 19 (prior to an official opening Dec. 22), for a straight ten-week run through Feb. 27, 2010.
Directed by RSC Chief Associate director Gregory Doran, the production is designed by Robert Jones with Paul Englishby composing music, Martin Slavin designing sound and Tim Mitchell lighting. The cast is led by veteran actor Richard Wilson, making his RSC debut as Malvolio, in a company that also includes Nancy Carroll as Viola and Alexandra Gilbreath as Olivia. Also in the cast are Sam Alexander (Sebastian), James Fleet (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Richard McCabe (Sir Toby Belch), Pamela Nomvete (Maria), Simeon Moore (Antonio), Jo Stone-Fewings (Orsino) and Miltos Yerolemou (Feste).
In a press statement, director Doran commented, "I am delighted to have finally persuaded Richard Wilson to play Malvolio, a part he was surely born to play. And it's a real pleasure to welcome back Nancy Carroll to play Viola and Alexandra Gilbreath to play Olivia. Nancy and Alexandra appeared opposite each other as Rosalind and Celia in my production of As You Like It in 2000. Twelfth Night is surely the most achingly sad of all Shakespeare's comedies tinged with a melancholy sadness and almost Chekhovian in its sense of loss."
Wilson is best known for his much-loved role of Victor Meldrew in the TV comedy series "One Foot in the Grave" for which he has won many awards including the British Comedy Awards Top Television Comedy Actor Award and two BAFTAs. His recent credits as an actor of screen and stage include "Merlin" (BBC1), "Demons" (ITV), "New Tricks" (BBC1), Whipping it Up (Bush Theatre/West End), Waiting for Godot (Manchester's Royal Exchange) and What the Butler Saw (National Theatre).
Carroll's previous RSC appearances include Lady Percy in Henry IV (2000), Gregory Doran's production of As You Like It (2000) and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1998). She has more recently appeared on stage in Waste at the Almeida and in The Man of Mode and The Voysey Inheritance at the National Theatre. Her television work includes "Doctors" and "The Life and Times of William Shakespeare" for the BBC. Gilbreath's most recent role for the RSC was Mistress Ford in Merry Wives - the Musical in 2006, alongside Judi Dench and Alistair McGowan. Her other credits include Maria in The Tamer Tamed, Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Rosalind in As You Like It, Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac, all directed by Doran. She also played Juliet to David Tennant's Romeo in Michael Boyd's production in 2000. Her television credits include "Casualty," "Trial and Retribution," "Absolute Power" and regular roles in "The Bill" and "Monarch of the Glen".
Doran's RSC productions of both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet transferred to the West End's Novello Theatre in London's West End in 2008-09. His many RSC credits include Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost, Merry Wives – the Musical, Macbeth, King John, Henry VIII, The Canterbury Tales and Timon of Athens. He will direct a new stage version of Mort D'Arthur with the current RSC ensemble in June 2010.
Public booking for Twelfth Night in London opens on Oct. 9, with booking for RSC members from Sept. 7. To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 871 7623 or visit www.ambassadorstickets.com/twelfthnight.