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Cynthia Erivo joins Donmar’s Henry IV

Published August 15, 2014

Cynthia Erivo will join Harriet Walter in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Henry IV when it opens at the Donmar Warehouse this autumn.

The actress, who joins other previously announced cast members Jade Anouka, Clare Dunne and Ashley McGuire, can currently be seen in Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s musical Dessa Rose at the Trafalgar Studios. Her other credits include the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple and recent X Factor musical I Can’t Sing! at the London Palladium where she wowed audiences in the role of talent show contestant Chenice.

Erivo is joined in the cast by Jennifer Joseph, who returns to the Covent Garden venue alongside Anouka, Walter, and Dunne after they appeared in Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar in 2012.

The rest of the cast members announced today, which include Chimerica’s Elizabeth Chan, Jackie Clune, whose credits include West End hit Mamma Mia! and Candide at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and My Mad Fat Diary’s Sharon Rooney, join Erivo in making their Donmar debuts. Rooney, who plays Rae Earl in the BAFTA nominated TV series, also makes her professional stage debut in the show.

Completing the cast are fellow Donmar debutants Karen Dunbar (Men Should Weep, National Theatre), Zainab Hasan (On The Dole, Lyric Hammersmith), Ann Ogbomo (Tamburlaine, Old Vic), Katie Robinson and Shiloh Coke.

Questioning what makes a leader and what makes a father, Henry IV travels to the heart of family, honour and a fight for land, encompassing action from both Henry IV Part I and II to create a single narrative.

Playing from 3 October to 29 November, the production follows Lloyd’s all-female Julius Caesar, which saw the Bard’s great tragedy set in a modern day prison, and continues the collaboration with Clean Break, a theatre company working with women in the criminal justice system.

Talking about the project, Clean Break’s Executive Director Lucy Perman said: “We are thrilled to once again partner the Donmar on such a ground-breaking project. When the Donmar approached us with the idea of setting Shakespeare in a women’s prison, we were excited by Phyllida’s motivation to explore the work in feminist, non-elitist ways. This speaks to Clean Break as a company and being involved, through casting, backstage and facilitating ways to develop ideas around the experience of women in prison, is a great endorsement of our expertise and track record in this area.”

Henry IV is the second production in the Donmar Warehouse’s three-part project challenging the notion of who owns Shakespeare and inspiring women from all backgrounds. Henry IV will follow current hit My Night With Reg and opens prior to a major revival of City Of Angels starring Samantha Barks.

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