Gillian Elisa Joins Cast Of New Welsh Musical BRANWEN: DADENI

Gillian Elisa will play the role of Ena, a figure who provides counsel to Matholwch, King of Ireland.

By: Sep. 18, 2023
Gillian Elisa Joins Cast Of New Welsh Musical BRANWEN: DADENI

Well-known TV and stage actress Gillian Elisa will join the cast of Branwen: Dadeni, co-producers Wales Millennium Centre and Frân Wen have announced as rehearsals begin in Cardiff for the eagerly-anticipated new Welsh language dramatic musical.

The contemporary reimagining of the legendary yet tragic tale of Branwen, from the ancient mythical tales of the Mabinogion, is set to tour Wales this November. Extra tickets have been released in Cardiff due to high demand, while performances have already sold out in both Aberystwyth and Bangor.

Gillian Elisa will play the role of Ena, a figure who provides counsel to Matholwch, King of Ireland. She was born in Carmarthen and grew up in Lampeter, and is best known for her roles in Pobol y Cwm and Hidden.

Ahead of joining the cast today for the show's first rehearsals, she said:
"After playing the role of Branwen in Melltith ar y Nyth, the first ever rock opera on Welsh television, I feel like I'm coming full circle to be joining a new generation's production based on the tales of the Mabinogion.

"In nearly 50 years on stage and screen, it'll be my first chance to perform at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre too. I can't wait!"

An Octet of singers, who will form part of the musical fabric of the show, has also been unveiled. Joining the Octet are Lisa Angharad, Huw Euron, Steffan Hughes, Miriam Isaac, Elan Meirion, Niamh Moulton, Cedron Sion and Adam Vaughan. Two young actors from Cardiff have also been cast to share a significant role as Gwern/Plentyn. Mali Grooms and Tegwen Velios will each perform in all three tour venues, making their professional stage debuts.

They all join a talented cast led by award-winning musician and performer Mared Williams in the title role of Branwen. Caitlin Drake (Miss Littlewood, RSC & Cunard; Pavilion, Theatr Clwyd) will play Branwen's sister Efnisien, while Cardiff's Rithvik Andugula (professional debut) will play Matholwch - brushing up on his Welsh having not used it since school. Tomos Eames (BBC's Shakespeare and Hathaway Private Investigators; S4C's Gwaith/Cartref) will play Bendigeidfran - Branwen's brother and King of Cedyrn - while Ioan Hefin (Netflix's Apostle; BBC's Steeltown Murders) will play Picell - a mysterious new presence in the story.

Mared Williams said: "I'm both looking forward and nervous to be putting my own spin on Branwen and delving into such an iconic but complex Welsh character. Having such a big project done in the Welsh language is something I'm very passionate about and it means a lot to be part of this show."

Branwen: Dadeni is written by Hanna Jarman, Elgan Rhys and Seiriol Davies, with lyrics and music by Seiriol Davies, and is directed by Frân Wen's Artistic Director, Gethin Evans. The creative team includes Geraint Owen (Musical Director & Music Supervisor), Owain Gruffudd Roberts (Orchestrator), Elin Steele (Set and Costume Designer), Bretta Gerecke (Lighting Designer), Sebastian Frost (Sound Designer), Owain Gwynn and Nia Lynn (Movement Co-Directors), Llinos Griffiths (Costume Supervisor), Carys Jones (Assistant Director), Gwenno Morgan (Assistant Musical Director) and Hannah Marie Williams (Casting Director).

Branwen: Dadeni opens in Wales Millennium Centre's Donald Gordon Theatre (8-11 November 2023), travelling to Aberystwyth Arts Centre (15-17 November 2023) and ending at Pontio Arts Centre, Bangor (22-25 November 2023).

A shattered kingdom. A corrupt monarchy. A new generation desperate for change. Branwen: Dadeni is an epic Welsh language musical which brings one of our most well-known legends into the contemporary world.

After a bloody civil war, the Llŷr family control Cedyrn. Branwen, the charismatic young princess who has won the people's hearts, is eager to move her country forward, but her brother, the king, won't listen.

During an unexpected visit by the King of Ireland, she sees her opportunity: escape to a progressive and prosperous country where her voice will count and she'll have the power to change things. But, as her star rises, every bargain, betrayal and body leads her deeper into the darkness, until, on the brink of ruin, the price becomes clear.

What would you sacrifice to create a just world?

Branwen: Dadeni is the latest in a run of Wales Millennium Centre Productions that nurture writers and creative talent in and from Wales. Previous acclaimed productions include Jennifer Lunn's award-winning Es & Flo (2023); Hamed Amiri's The Boy with Two Hearts (2021), which recently transferred to The National Theatre in London; Connor Allen's The Making of a Monster (2022); Llinos Mai's Anthem (2022); and Kaite O'Reilly's The Beauty Parade (2020).

Frân Wen's recent work includes Popeth ar y Ddaear, a site-specific co-production with Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru and the first ever theatrical production to be staged at Maes B, the national tours of Welsh language coming-of-age dramas Croendena and Imrie showcasing the best young writers in Wales, Ynys Alys (2022) which followed the story of a young girl as she set out in search of her independence; Galwad (2022), a story told in real-time over seven days online, on TV and live from Wales; and Faust & Greta (2021), a co-production with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru which was a digital theatrical experience inspired by T. Gwynn Jones' Welsh translation of Goethe's classic.




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