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Les Dennis to star in as Malvolio in Twelfth Night

Not Too Tame and Shakespeare North Playhouse announce the full cast to be playing alongside Les Dennis as ‘Malvolio’ in Twelfth Night, their brilliantly bold and riotous new rendition of William Shakespeare’s timeless comedy, playing Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot 7 – 29 June, with a national press night on Tuesday 11 June. 

A raucous celebration of unrequited love and mistaken identities, set against the backdrop of the music scene.

Les Dennis to star in as Malvolio in Twelfth Night

Not Too Tame and Shakespeare North Playhouse give this classic comedy a contemporary revamp with a dose of riffs, ruffs, and riotous partying. Prepare to be transported into a world where the stage is set, the music is pumping, and love takes centre stage as the ultimate headliner.

Following the success of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, their previous collaboration in 2022, Twelfth Night is a co-production between Not Too Tame and Shakespeare North Playhouse, and directed by Not Too Tame’s Artistic Director, Jimmy Fairhurst (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Not Too Tame/ Shakespeare North Playhouse; The Social – Not Too Tame/Northern Soul; Palace of Varieties – Derby Theatre).

Joining Les Dennis in Twelfth Night will be Louise Haggerty (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare North Playhouse/Northern Stage, and Co-Director of Not Too Tame,) as ‘Feste’, Tom Sturgess (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – West End) as ‘Sebastian’, Reuben Johnson (Prisoners’ Wives – BBC) as ‘Orsino / Aguecheek’, Jack Brown (Early Doors – Not Too Tame/UK Tour) as ‘Sir Toby Belch’, Georgia Frost (Brief Encounter – Manchester Royal Exchange) as ‘Viola’, Purvi Pamar (Cinderella – Derby Theatre; The Book Thief – Belgrade Theatre/Leicester Curve) as ‘Olivia ‘and Kate James (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare North Playhouse) as ‘Maria / Antonia’.

As previously announced, Les Dennis, renowned for his versatility and captivating stage presence, will step into the iconic role of Malvolio, the puritanical and pompous servant of the countess Olivia. One of the UK’s most renowned entertainers, Les boasts a 50-year showbiz career. Hailing from Liverpool, he rose as a comedian in the 1970s and dominated Saturday night TV in the 80s and 90s. He recently returned to Saturday night TV with a fabulous turn on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. In recent years, Les has enjoyed a thriving career as an actor, performing with companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Opera, and in numerous hit plays and musicals in the West End and on tour, as well as a regular role on Coronation Street.

Les Dennis said:

“I am thrilled to be playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Ever since I went to Stratford with the school and saw it, I have always wanted to do it. The great Sir Ken Dodd famously played the part, and the fact that Shakespeare North has a Doddy garden through the support of Lady Dodd and the Sir Ken Dodd Foundation is an additional bonus. How tickled I am to be following in his footsteps.”

Nominated for Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards in 2023 for A Midsummer Night’s DreamJimmy Fairhurst is a director, writer, and actor who creates and develops shows that are steeped in working class culture, with a focus on audiences who feel that theatre isn’t for them. 

On directing Twelfth Night, Jimmy Fairhurst comments: 

“Ding Ding! And bells out for round two! I’m thrilled to be announcing the cast for our second co-production with the incredible team at Shakespeare North Playhouse. After the successes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which saw packed-out audiences on their feet night after night, I’m coming back with more of the same… but I’m turning it up to 11. I believe Twelfth Night is naturally an accessible play for a modern audience and one that warrants the best soundtrack. I’m keen to dig into the themes of appearance, acceptance and how we treat people and in return, wish to be treated.  We are working with a host of diverse working-class artists and the legendary Les Dennis to create a production that is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking and feels like a big weekend away at a festival. So grab your wristbands and see you down the front.”

Laura Collier, Creative Director at Shakespeare North Playhouse, comments: 

“We are so thrilled to once again collaborate with our Associate Artists, Not Too Tame, to bring Twelfth Night to life at Shakespeare North Playhouse. This production promises to be a dynamic fusion of Shakespearean tradition and contemporary flair, offering audiences an exhilarating theatrical experience unlike any other. Not Too Tame are a superb creative powerhouse who consistently produce high-quality, unique, and poignant work that celebrates and platforms working-class narratives and actors.

Twelfth Night is a comedy that mirrors the complexities of life itself, exploring the breadth of human relationships and societal dynamics. This production promises an experience that will linger in the hearts and minds of our audiences long after the final bow.”

Twelfth Night will be directed by Jimmy Fairhurst, with set and costume design by GOOD TEETH , lighting design by Benny Goodman, sound design by Ivan Stott, compositions by Dean Fairhurst aka Standin’ Man, vocal coaching by Anita Gilbert, movement direction by Richard Roe and fight direction by Bethan Clark. Trinifold Management (The Who, Jimmy Paige, UB40, Standin Man) will also be opening up their archives and working alongside the design team to help inform this production.  

READ MORE: SHAKESPEARE NORTH PLAYHOUSE ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP

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