Olivier Award-winning actor Michelle Terry will take on the titular role of Henry V at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer before handing over the stage to Declan Bennett who will star in Jesus Christ Superstar.
The venue today described the decision behind the exciting casting as “finding voices which would foster a new engagement with the stories”.
Terry, who follows a long line of esteemed female actors to play Shakespeare’s greatest leading men, will make her Regent’s Park stage debut in Robert Hastie’s production from 17 June to 9 July.
She will following a wealth of Shakespearean roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Globe and National Theatre by playing the great warrior king in the Bard’s historical recounting of the Battle of Agincourt and the English quest to win the French crown.
Commenting on the casting of the critically acclaimed actor, who won her Olivier Award for the Royal Court’s Tribes and is currently starring in the National Theatre’s controversial Cleansed, Hastie said: “Michelle has the compassion, the wit and the imagination that mark out the really great Shakespearean actors. I’m thrilled by what she’ll bring to Henry. There’s no-one I’d like to see play this part more.
“This summer we’re expecting the results of a MOD consultation that aims to put female soldiers on the front line of combat, as well as the publication at last of the Chilcott report into why our country goes to war, and who we trust to take us there. As he has done pretty much every year since he died 400 years ago, Shakespeare is proving himself our contemporary. Our first night is the day before the EU referendum. I can’t think of a better time to stage this play about England’s relationship with its European neighbours.”
As is traditional at the stunning al fresco venue, 2016’s summer season includes a revival of a much loved musical, which this year will see former Once star and long-running EastEnders actor Bennett take on the lofty role of Jesus in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar from 15 July to 27 August.
Directed by the theatre’s Artistic Director Timothy Sheader, the production marks 45 years since the show first hit the stage, fast becoming one of the pair’s most popular musicals with a classic score including songs I Don’t Know How To Love Him, Gethsemane and Superstar.
Further casting for the season, which also includes Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild and the return of 2013 hit Pride And Prejudice, will be announced in the coming months.