Casting announced for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Bridge Theatre

The London Theatre Company by special arrangement with Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber, presents the much-celebrated Leeds Playhouse production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the 2019/20 festive season at the Bridge.

The cast, who began rehearsals this week, features Femi Akinfolarin as Peter, Omari Bernard as Maugrim, Laura Elphinstone as the White Witch/Mrs Macready, Shalisa James-Davis as Susan, Wil Johnson as Aslan/Professor Kirk, Keziah Joseph as Lucy, John Leader as Edmund, Stuart Neal as Mr Tumnus, Dean Nolan as Mr Beaver and Beverly Rudd as Mrs Beaver.  They are joined by Emily BenjaminAmber Cayasso, Sebastian Charles, Andro CopperthwaiteNicky Cross, David Emmings, Nathan Louis Fernand, Linford Johnson, Mitch Leow, Mei MacJames McHughHelen Parke, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda and Millicent Wong and musicians James Gow, Tim Dalling, Harry Miller and Pat Moran.

Based on the novel by C. S. Lewis and directed by Sally Cookson, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will have its first performance on 9 November 2019 with opening night on 18 November running until 2 February 2020.  Full details of the performance schedule, including Sunday matinees, are available on the Bridge website.

 Step through the wardrobe this Winter into the magical kingdom of Narnia for the most mystical of adventures in a faraway land.  Join Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter as they wave goodbye to wartime Britain and say hello to a talking Faun, an unforgettable Lion and the coldest, cruellest White Witch.

This critically acclaimed production reunites director Sally Cookson with designer Rae Smith, writer in the room Adam Peck, movement director Dan Canham, lighting designer Bruno Poet, sound designer Ian Dickinson and music by Benji Bower all of whom originally brought the show to life in 2017 breaking box office records at Leeds Playhouse.

Written by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book published in The Chronicles of Narnia in 1950 and went on to become one of the most popular children’s books of all time; still regularly topping reader votes on the best books nearly 70 years later, including last month being voted the UK’s favourite book. The Chronicles of Narnia – The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle – are classics of children’s literature, having enchanted generations of young readers, with over 100 million copies sold worldwide in over 70 countries and 59 different languages.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia are published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Laura Elphinstone (White Witch/Mrs Macready) was last at the Bridge in Young Marx.  Her other theatre credits include My Country and Jane Eyre for the National Theatre.  Her television credits include Vera, Game of Thrones, Chernobyl and Line of Duty.

Wil Johnson’s (Aslan/Professor Kirk) more recent theatre credits include Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse and in the West End, UK tour of Glengarry Glen RossLeave Taking at the Bush Theatre, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Old Vic, King Lear at The Royal Exchange and A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes at the Tricycle Theatre.  His film and television credits include Carnival RowOutlander, The Five, Waking The Dead, Adulthood, Vera, Lewis, Clocking Off, Cracker and Waterloo Road.

Keziah Joseph’s (Lucy) theatre credits include Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear at the National Theatre, Sweeney Todd at the Liverpool Everyman, The Paper Man at Soho Theatre, Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith, As You Like It at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and The Jungle Book at Chichester Festival Theatre and on UK Tour.

John Leader’s (Edmund) theatre credits include Henry IV Parts I and II for Shakespeare’s Globe, A Monster Calls for the Old Vic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for West Yorkshire Playhouse, Peter Pan and War Horse for the National Theatre, Running Wild for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Romeo and Juliet for the Orange Tree.

Femi Akinfolarin (Peter) is currently playing the role of Brother in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.  His other theatre credits include Man of La Mancha at the London Colliseum and Doctor Doolittle on UK tour.

Shalisa James-Davis’ (Susan) theatre credits include Our Country’s Good and Notre Dame for the National Theatre and Romeo & Juliet for The Globe.  Her film credits include Mary Queen of Scots, Bay of Silence. Her television credits include Silent WitnessNext of Kin and Vera.

Stuart Neal (Mr Tumnus) credits include Leo Bloom in The Producers at The Royal Exchange Manchester,  Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, The Grinning Man for Bristol Old Vic, La Cage aux Folles and Pippin for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse, Evita at the Adelphi Theatre and The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick Theatre, Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival and Armory NYC.  His film credits include Cinderella and Les Misérables.

Dean Nolan’s (Mr Beaver) theatre credits include Billionaire Boy for the Nuffield Southampton Theatre/Tour, Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter and Steptoe and Son both in the West End, Sweeney ToddFiddler on the RoofThe Conquest of the South Pole and Romeo and Juliet all for Liverpool Everyman, and Big Fish at the Other Palace Theatre. His screen credits include the upcoming ITV series Quiz created by Stephen Frears and James Graham, Flack for UKTV, Will for TNT and Rufus Norris’ London Road.

Beverly Rudd’s (Mrs Beaver) theatre credits include Kneehigh’s production Dead Dog In A Suitcase, Tin Drum and Brief Encounter in the West End and on national and international Tour, Peter PanThe Beggars Opera and Into The Woods  for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, The Twits at the Curve Theatre, James And The Giant Peach  for West Yorkshire Playhouse and Much Ado About Nothing for the Royal Exchange Theatre.  Her television credits include Lisa as a series regular in Trollied for Sky as well as guest appearances in Shameless for Channel 4, Him & Her for BBC 3 and Coronation Street for ITV.

Omari Bernard’s (Maugrim) theatre credits include Porgy and Bess and Two Boy for English National Opera, The Bodyguard in the West End and on UK Tour, Fame on UK tour, Starlight Express in Germany and on International Tour, Tommy the Cat in Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Sally Cookson’s most recent productions were the Olivier award-winning A Monster Calls at the Old Vic and a revival Peter Pan at the Troubadour Theatre. She is an Associate Artist at Bristol Old Vic where her productions include Jane Eyre and Peter Pan which were also seen at the National Theatre and on tour, Sleeping Beauty, Treasure Island, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Strange Case, Pericles, Pains of Youth and The Visit. Her work in the West End includes La Strada, Hetty Feather and Bearhunt.  Her numerous collaborations with Travelling Light Theatre include Strictly Balti by Saikat Ahammed, The Ugly Duckling based on Hans Christian Andersen, ShadowplayCloudland based on the book by John Burningham, Lenny by Francis Monty, Bob the Man on the Moon based on the book by Simon Bartram.

Rae Smith received multiple design awards including the Olivier and Tony Awards for War Horse at the National Theatre and on tour internationally.  Her recent theatre credits include The Night of the Iguana at the Noël Coward Theatre, Rosmersholm at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Girl From the North Country at the Old Vic, the Public Theater in New York and on Broadway, Translations at the National Theatre and Barbershop Chronicles at the National Theatre, the Roundhouse, Brooklyn Academy of Music and on UK tour, The Goat at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, This House at the Garrick Theatre and on UK tour, Nightfall at the Bridge Theatre and Rusalka at Glyndebourne.  Other theatre credits include Wonder.Land and The Light Princess for the National Theatre and The Tempest and Prince of the Pagodas for Birmingham Royal Ballet.  Smith is the recipient of The Rootstein Hopkins Fellowship which extends boundaries between the live performing arts and drawing.

Elliott & Harper Productions was founded in 2016 by Marianne Elliott, Chris Harper and Nick Sidi.  Elliott & Harper’s London production of Company at the Gielgud Theatre won 4 Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival as well as the Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. Company will transfer to Broadway, opening at The Bernard Jacobs Theatre in March 2020. Their other recent credits include the highly acclaimed co-production of Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Theatre (directed by Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell) which will transfer to The Piccadilly Theatre in the West End in October 2019.  Elliott & Harper co-produced the Broadway transfer of the National Theatre’s production of Angels in America (Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play) directed by Marianne Elliott.  Other productions include Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle at the Wyndham’s Theatre directed by Marianne Elliott and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Leeds Playhouse.

Catherine Schreiber is a two-time Tony and Olivier Award-winning Producer. Broadway Global Producer of the Year 2017.  Upcoming Broadway productions: Lead Producer– Company, A Christmas Carol. Chicago: The King’s Speech. Currently: Lead Producer – The Play That Goes Wrong, Off Broadway. Recent London: Company, Dreamgirls, The Life. Lead Producer – The Scottsboro Boys. Current Producer: Made In Kent Documentary Film.

Leeds Playhouse was established almost 50 years ago. It’s a cultural hub, a place where people gather to tell and share stories and to engage in world class theatre. Following a major capital redevelopment, Leeds Playhouse reopens in October 2019, with a new city-facing entrance, improved access into and around the building and a new studio theatre.