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Les Dennis to star in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare North Playhouse

Beloved TV presenter, actor, and comedian Les Dennis is set to play Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare North Playhouse this June.

Another exciting collaboration between Not Too Tame and Shakespeare North Playhouse has been announced, featuring a daring and innovative interpretation of William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, ‘Twelfth Night’.

Les Dennis to star in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare North Playhouse

The producers are back with another show after their successful collaboration, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Their new experimental theatre will once again captivate audiences with its unique blend of excitement and anarchy.

This classic comedy gets a contemporary makeover by Not Too Tameorth Playhouse, infused with riffs, ruffs, and lively partying. Get ready to be transported to a world where love takes the center stage as the ultimate headliner, amidst a stage that’s set and music that’s pumping. The production’s design team will work alongside Trinifold Management (known for managing The Who, Jimmy Paige, UB40, Standin Man) and their archives to inform the production.

Les Dennis, known for his captivating stage presence and versatility, has been cast as Malvolio, the puritanical and pompous servant of Countess Olivia, in the highly anticipated production.

Les Dennis, a well-known entertainer in the UK, has had a successful career in show business spanning 50 years. Originally from Liverpool, he began his career as a comedian in the 1970s and gained prominence on Saturday night television during the 1980s and 1990s. He recently made a comeback to Saturday night TV with an excellent performance on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. In recent times, Les has kept busy with his acting career, featuring in productions by renowned companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Opera. He has also appeared in several popular plays and musicals in the West End and on tour, and has a recurring role on the TV show 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.”

This version of Twelfth Night is directed by Jimmy Fairhurst, who is Not Too Tame’s artistic director. He has directed other productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Social. The play is set in the music scene and portrays unrequited love and mistaken identities. Jimmy Fairhurst was nominated for the Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards in 2023 for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is a writer, actor, and director who creates and develops shows with a focus on working-class culture. His aim is to attract audiences who may not typically enjoy theatre.

On directing Twelfth Night, Jimmy Fairhurst comments: 

“Ding Ding! And bells out for round two! 

I’m thrilled to be announcing our second co-production with the incredible team at Shakespeare North Playhouse. After the successes of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ last year 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 will be 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.”

The Generate Programme of the National Theatre is providing support for the R&D of Twelfth Night, which is scheduled to take place from the 5th to the 9th of February. During this R&D, the team will examine Twelfth Night with a diverse group of 12 performers, exploring how we should treat people in love and life.


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