Waddingham, who plays the Witch, and Russell, who takes on the role of the Baker’s Wife, both have Sondheim pedigree; Waddingham was nominated in this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards for playing Desiree in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, while Russell won the 2007 Best Actress in a Musical Laurence Olivier Award for Sunday In The Park With George.
Into The Woods, which puts a darkly humorous twist on the Brothers Grimm fairytales, is staged by the Open Air theatre in celebration of Sondheim’s 80th birthday. Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel direct a cast that also includes RSC regular Mark Hadfield and former Avenue Q star Mark Goldthorp.
Also cast in this year’s Open Air theatre season are Patrick O’Kane, Emma Cunniffe, Emily Taaffe and Oliver Ford Davies, who lead the cast of The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s tale of hysteria during the Salem witch hunts of the 1690s. O’Kane, currently appearing in War Horse, and Cunniffe, seen at the moment in Dumb Show at the Rose theatre Kingston, play John and Elizabeth Proctor, the couple at the centre of the drama whose lives are threatened by the accusations of young Abigail (Taaffe). Ford-Davies, a Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre regular who appeared in Hamlet alongside David Tennant, plays Danforth. Also in the cast are Spring Awakening’s Lucy May Barker and veteran actress Susan Engel.
West End regular Anna-Jane Casey (Chicago, Mack And Mabel, Forbidden Broadway) will front a live swing band for director Philip Franks’s production of The Comedy Of Errors, which runs from 24 June to 31 July. Daniel Weyman and Daniel Llewelyn-Williams play the Antipholus twins, with Jo Herbert as Adriana.
Lastly, Steve Marmion’s production of Macbeth, aimed at theatregoers aged six and over, will star RSC regulars Golda Rosheuvel and Simon Trinder as Lady Macbeth and Macduff.
The Open Air theatre will be hoping its 2010 season can emulate the success of last year, when Sheader’s production of Hello, Dolly! played to packed houses, subsequently collecting three Laurence Olivier Awards in this year’s ceremony.