Initial Casting Announced For Royal Shakespeare Company's THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT

The cast includes Keisha Amponsa Banson (Gloria Matienne), Marc Antolin (Leo Matienne), Sam Harrison (Count Quintet), Forbes Masson (Police Chief), and more!

By: Jul. 09, 2021
Initial Casting Announced For Royal Shakespeare Company's THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT

The Royal Shakespeare Company has today announced initial casting for The Magician's Elephant, a new musical by Nancy Harris (book/lyrics) and Marc Teitler (music/lyrics) based on the novel by prize-winning children's author Kate DiCamillo.

The principal cast includes; Keisha Amponsa Banson (Gloria Matienne), Marc Antolin (Leo Matienne), Sam Harrison (Count Quintet), Forbes Masson (Police Chief), Mark Meadows (Vilna Lutz), Alastair Parker (Magician), Summer Strallen (Countess Quintet) and Jack Wolfe (Peter Duchene).

Further cast comprises; Sharif Afifi (Milliner), Alison Arnopp (Baker), Hannah Brown (Swing), Michael Carolan (Swing), Lucca Chadwick-Patel (Fishmonger), Stephen John Davis (Doctor), Zoe Halliday (The Elephant), Wela Mbusi (The Elephant), Suzanne Nixon (The Elephant), Wendy Somerville (Mrs Griswald) and Mandi Symonds (Sister Marie).

The world stage premiere of The Magician's Elephant will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Thursday 14 October 2021 to Saturday 1 January 2022 with press night on Tuesday 26 October 2021.

The production, which was originally due to run from October 2020 - January 2021, was postponed due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, which included the temporary cancellation of all RSC performances, events and other activities. The production will mark the re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre following the pandemic and the return of audiences to indoor performances at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Magician's Elephant tells the story of orphan Peter Augustus Duchene, who lives a frugal life in the lonely town of Baltese. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky. The animal's appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever. Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

This new adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's heart-breaking and darkly magical children's book by Nancy Harris (book/lyrics) and Marc Teitler (music/lyrics) will be directed by Sarah Tipple, Associate Director to Gregory Doran on The Boy in the Dress. The production will feature design by Colin Richmond whose previous RSC credits include Wendy and Peter Pan and Vice Versa. Lighting is by Oliver Fenwick, Music Supervision and Musical Direction by Tom Brady, Orchestrations by Sarah Travis and Marc Teitler, vocal arrangements by Tom Brady and Marc Teitler, sound by Paul Groothuis and movement by Francesca Jaynes. Dramaturgy is by Réjane Collard-Walker. Puppetry direction is by Mervyn Millar with puppetry design by Mervyn Millar and Tracy Waller. The Magic Consultant is John Bulleid whose previous RSC credits include #WeAreArrested, and video is by Douglas O'Connell.

The role of Peter Duchene will be played by Jack Wolfe, who makes his RSC debut this Christmas. Jack's previous theatre credits include Sweeney Todd (Lyric Belfast), Pinocchio (National Theatre) The Snow Queen (Rose Theatre Kingston) and The Musician (The Belfast Ensemble). Television credits include Inside No. 9; The Witcher; Father Brown and Hetty Feather.

Jack plays the lead role of Tim Walker/Prince Tamino in the upcoming film adaptation of The Magic Flute (Flute Film/Centropolis Entertainment) opposite Iwan Rheon and F. Murray Abraham, which is due for release in 2022.

He will be joined by Marc Antolin and Keisha Amponsa Banson in the roles of Leo and Gloria Matienne respectively.

Marc is no stranger to the RSC at Christmas. In 2010, he appeared as a member of the original ensemble cast of Matilda the Musical, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary in the West End. Marc continued with the production when it transferred to the West End and later went on to play the role of Rudolpho.

Marc's other musical theatre credits include playing the role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and Marc Chagall in Kneehigh/Bristol Old Vic's production The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. Other notable stage credits include The Trial (Young Vic) and Taken at Midnight (Theatre Royal Haymarket/Chichester Festival Theatre).

Keisha Amponsa Banson is perhaps best known to musical theatre audiences for playing Ms Sheinkopf in School of Rock - The Musical. Keisha's previous credits for the RSC include Matilda the Musical (Cambridge Theatre) in which she played the role of Mrs Phelps.

Keisha's other theatre credits include Caroline, or Change (Chichester Festival Theatre/West End); Beano The Musical (Old Vic); King (Hackney Empire); Dr. FeelGood (The Other Palace); Motown the Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre); I Know All The Secrets In My World (Tiata Fahodzi); Yarico (London Theatre Workshop); City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse); The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre); From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre); The Lion King (UK/Ireland Tour); Believers Anonymous (Rosemary Branch Theatre); Footloose (UK Tour); Woosah (Old Vic); Knight Crew (Glyndebourne Opera); Little Shop of Horrors (Menier Chocolate Factory, UK Tour). Her television credits include Children in Need; Live At The London Palladium; The Sound of Music Live!; Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne; West End Story: What Nancy, Joseph & Maria Did Next and I'd Do Anything.

Four times Olivier award-nominated actress Summer Strallen will make her RSC debut this Autumn playing the role of Countess Quintet alongside Sam Harrison as Count Quintet.

Throughout her career, Summer has performed various leading roles on stage and screen.

Her most notable stage credits include playing Meg Giry in the West End production of Love Never Dies and Maria von Trapp in Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium. Other theatre credits include What's In A Name (UK Tour); Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre); Hysteria (London Classic Theatre Tour); A Damsel In Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre); Ultimate Broadway (Shanghai Culture Square Theatre); Life Of The Party (Menier Chocolate Factory); Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre and National Tour), Company (Queens Theatre); The Drowsy Chaperone (Novello Theatre); Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium); Cats (New London Theatre and National Tour); Fosse (European Tour) and The Sound of Music (Sadler's Wells).

Summer played the role of Nancy Morrell in BBC One's World War Two drama, Land Girls. She also voiced the part of "Princess Lucy" in The Big Knights, a British animated children's television series, and played the role of Summer Shaw in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.

Sam Harrison's musical theatre credits include playing Bamatabois/Claquesous in Les Misérables (Queen's Theatre), Boris in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (West Yorkshire Playhouse & UK Tour), the Hairdresser in The Phantom of the Opera (25th Anniversary Tour)

and Bobby in Crazy for You (London Palladium). Other stage credits include A Damsel in Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre), By Jeeves (Trinity Theatre) Eastward, Ho! (Shakespeare's Globe), Salad Days (Riverside Studios) and Avenue Q (Gielgud Theatre).

Returning to the RSC this Christmas following his role as Mr Hawtrey, the Headmaster in The Boy in the Dress in 2019/20 is RSC Associate Artist Forbes Masson, who will play the Police Chief.

Forbes' previous credits for the RSC include The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Ahasverus, Morte D'Arthur, Henry VI Part 2, Henry V, The Grain Store, A Tender Thing, Henry VI Parts 1,2 & 3, Richard II, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth and Hamlet. Other theatre credits include Summer and Smoke (West End and The Almeida), Little Shop of Horrors (Regents Park), Big Fish (The Other Palace), Bartholomew Fair, Merry Wives of Windsor, Boudica (all at Shakespeare's Globe) and Travesties (West End and Menier). Forbes is known for his comedy partnership with Alan Cumming. Together they wrote and starred in The High Life, and created the famous Scottish comedy duo, Victor and Barry. Recent TV credits include Crime, Father Brown, Catastrophe, Shetland and EastEnders

Making his RSC debut this Autumn is Mark Meadows as Vilna Lutz. Mark's previous musical theatre credits include The Thrill of Love (New Vic, Stoke); Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible; Chichester Festival Theatre), Betty Blue Eyes (Novello Theatre); Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre); Urinetown (St James); High Society (Sheffield Crucible). Other theatre credits include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Tobacco Factory); A Woman of No Importance (UK Tour); Orpheus Descending (Menier Chocolate Factory); Quiz (Chichester Festival Theatre; Noel Coward Theatre); Tartuffe (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory) and The Magna Carta Plays (Salisbury Playhouse).

Mark's TV and radio credits include McDonald & Dodds (Mammoth Screen); Kiri (Channel 4), EastEnders, Casualty, Doctors (all for BBC); Letters From Baghdad; Nicholas Nickleby (United Artists); High Heels & Lowlifes (Fragile Films), Poetry Please; Costing The Earth; The Good Companions; Company; Pal Joey (BBC Radio 3); The Worst Journey in the World; Torchwood-Lost Souls; If Not Now, When?; Abel's Law; The Von Trapps & Me; Tommy the Voice; I Believe I Have Genius; The Quest and Making Hay (all for BBC Radio 4).

Also returning to the Royal Shakespeare Company this Christmas is Alastair Parker who plays the Magician. Alastair last appeared at the RSC as Sergei in the original cast of Matilda the Musical in 2010. Alastair later went on to understudy the role of Miss Trunchbull during the production's run at the Cambridge Theatre.

Alastair's other theatre credits include A Christmas Carol (Old Vic Theatre), Jerry Springer - The Opera (National Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre); Bed & Sofa (Finborough Theatre); BBC Proms - Sondheim at 80 (Royal Albert Hall); The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Silk (Orange Tree Theatre); Wizard of Oz, The Glee Club (New Vic Theatre); Two Women for One Ghost, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, HMS Pinafore (Regents Park Open Air Theatre); Spittin' Distance, Jonah Boy, Beginners Guide to Cybershopping (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Is There Life After High School (The Bridewell Theatre); Oklahoma (Perth Theatre) and Oliver (London Palladium).

Initial Casting Announced For Royal Shakespeare Company's THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT