Kenneth Branagh Joined by Judi Dench, "Cinderella" Stars for West End-Bound Theatre Company

The Guardian, 16 April 2015
By Mark Shenton

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, led by the eponymous director and actor and also featuring Rob Ashford and Christopher Oram as artistic associates, has announced a year-long residency of five productions that will be staged at the West End's Garrick Theatre, beginning in October. Actors already confirmed to appear include Judi Dench, Lily James, Richard Madden and Rob Brydon, as well as Branagh himself in three of the productions.

The season will be launched with productions of Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' and Terence Rattigan's 'Harlequinade', playing in rep from Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 respectively, prior to an official opening day Nov. 7. They will play in respectively through Jan. 16, 2015 and Jan. 13. Both will be co-directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh.

'The Winter's Tale' will feature Judi Dench as Paulina and Branagh as Leontes. 'Harlequinade', a comedy in which a classical company attempts to produce 'The Winter's Tale' and 'Romeo and Juliet' as the Branagh company is itself doing this season will star Branagh.

These two plays will be followed by Francis Veber's classic French farce 'The Painkiller', presented in an adaptation by Sean Foley who also directs, beginning performances March 5 prior to an official opening March 17, for a run through April 30. Branagh co-stars with Rob Brydon, reprising the roles they previously played in the production's premiere at Belfast's Lyric Theatre in 2011. One of them is a killer, the other wants to die. What could possibly go wrong?

'Romeo and Juliet', which will reunite the stars of Branagh's most recent film "Cinderella" Richard Madden and Lily James in the title roles, will begin performances May 12, 2016, prior to an official opening May 25, for a run through Aug. 13.

Finally, John Osborne's 'The Entertainer' will be revived in a new production directed by Ashford and starring Branagh as Archie Rice, begins performances Aug. 20 prior to an official opening Aug. 30, for a run through Nov. 12. Apart from 'The Painkiller', all productions will be designed by Christopher Oram. The season is presented by West End producers Fiery Angel. The box office, which opens April 17 at 9am (U.K time; 4am EST), can be contacted on 0844 482 9673, or visit branaghtheatre.com for more details and online bookings (with no booking or transaction fees).


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