Issue date: Tuesday 7 May 
Issued by: Lunchbox Productions & TargetLive

  • Maggie Bain (Netflix’s Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World; film Dark Sense; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe) to play Henry V
  • ITV’s Victoria star David Oakes to play Hamlet
  • Sam Callis (Game of Thrones, The Bill) to play Prospero in The Tempest
  • And returning from last year’s SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE are Olivia Onyehara in the role of Viola, Mark Holgate as Orsino, and Leandra Ashton playing Olivia in Twelfth Night

[7 May, YORK:] Casting has been announced for the 2019 York company of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, the award-winning pop-up Shakespearean Theatre, which makes a triumphant return to the foot of Clifford’s Tower in York this summer with new productions of Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night. The plays have been selected from across the genres, offering something for everyone, and will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors.

Making up the 18-strong Hamlet/Twelfth Night company are Leandra Ashton (Courtier/Soldier/Sailor & Olivia), Antony Bunsee (Player King/Courtier/Soldier & Priest), Claire Corbett (Horatio & Feste/Sailor), Marcello Cruz (Laertes/Soldier & Sebastian), Fine Time Fontayne (Ghost 1/Player 1/Digger 1/Lord & Sir Toby Belch/Sailor/Musician), Hannah Francis-Barker (swing), Mark Holgate (Marcellus/Fortinbras/Player 3 & Orsino), Gordon Kane (Polonius/English Ambassador & Captain), Rina Mahoney (Gertrude & Maria/Sailor), Serena Manteghi (Ophelia & 1st Officer), David Oakes (Hamlet & 2nd Officer/Sailor), Olivia Onyehara (Osric/Courtier/Soldier & Viola), Alex Phelps (Courtier/Reynaldo/Priest/Soldier & Sir Andrew Aguecheek/Sailor/Musician), Richard Standing (Claudius & Curio/Musician), Claire Storey (Ghost 2/Player 2/Digger 2 & Malvolio/Sailor/Musician), Wreh-asha Walton (Rosencrantz/Francisco & Valentine) and Declan Wilson (Voltimand/Captain & Antonio/Sailor). 

Making up the 19-strong Tempest/Henry V company are Ali Azhar (Male Spirit & Dauphin/French Soldier), Maggie Bain (Antonia & Henry V), Raphael Bushay (Caliban & Montjoy/Chorus), Sam Callis (Prospero & King of France/Erpingham), Niall Costigan (Alonso & York/Governor/Bourbon), Richie Daysh, (Boatswain & Pistol), Leander Deeny (Ariel & Constable/Grey), Jessica Dennis (Female Spirit/Ceres & Chorus/Williams/Nym), Charlyne Francis (Iris & Katherine/Boy), Alexandra Guelff (Miranda & Alice/Scrope/Court/Chorus), Scott Hoatson (Francisco & Westmoreland/Chorus), Alexander Knox (Ferdinand & Bates/Gloucester), Christopher Logan (Trinculo & Orleans/MacMorris/Cambridge), Amy Loughton (Adrian & Fluellen/Chorus), Peter Moreton (Stephano & Canterbury/Bardolf/Burgundy), Johanne Murdock (Juno & Duke of Exeter), Marilyn Nnadebe (Female Spirit & Duke of Berri/Soldier), Paul Sockett (Sebastian & Gower/Chorus) and Flo Wilson (Gonzala & Ely/Hostess/Isabel). 

Damian Cruden, formerly artistic director at York Theatre Royal for 22 years, returns to SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, having directed Macbeth last year in York.  This year he will direct Hamlet and will serve as overall artistic director for the Company. Award-winning writer Joyce Branagh, who has directed Measure for Measure at Lancaster Castle as well as Much Ado About Nothing at Vienna’s English Theatre, and is the sister of acclaimed Shakespearean actor and director Kenneth Branagh, will join the company to direct Twelfth Night; Philip Franks, best known for playing the role of Charley opposite Catherine Zeta Jones in The Darling Buds of May, and more recently Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct The Tempest; and Gemma Fairlie, recently Associate Director at Pitlochry Festival Theatre and award-winning director of outdoor physical theatre company Light the Fuse, will direct Henry V. Sara Perks also returns to SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, this year as overall season designer as well as scenic and costume designer for Hamlet and costume designer for Twelfth Night. Adrian Linford will be scenic and costume designer for The Tempest and costume designer for Henry V. Max Dorey will be scenic designer for Twelfth Night and Henry V.

On casting Maggie Bain in the role of Henry V, director Gemma Fairlie commented, “We auditioned a huge range of actors of all genders for this role, but no-one quite captured the complexity of the character like Maggie. Henry is such an iconic figure for the English, he is sometimes more myth than man. But we have to understand why thousands followed him into battle, whilst also seeing the weight of that responsibility for the nation on his shoulders. Henry has a wit, a charm and a charisma that is infectious, and Maggie has that in spades. I know that the audience will fall in love with Henry through her, while hopefully questioning how constructed the public persona of a King is by seeing a woman play a man.”    
Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE, said “I am absolutely delighted that once again the creative team has found a cast of such stunningly high calibre for our four new Shakespeare plays and I’m sure that the audiences in York will really enjoy and appreciate their talents.”

Damian Cruden, Artistic Director of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE said, “From our company of 34 actors last season, 14 have returned - we all so enjoyed the experience of performing in such a unique and intimate venue last year; there was a great team spirit and I’m thrilled that so many of the cast have decided to join our revels again this year.”

SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE - a 13-sided Elizabethan-style playhouse, complete with an Elizabethan village - will be constructed over a three-week period from the end of May, returning to the foot of 13th century Clifford’s Tower, where it will open on 25 June and run until 1 September 2019. 

SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE is also expanding this year, with a new site at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where two other companies will be performing the repertoire of plays from the first season in York: Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.

Both Shakespearean theatres will be constructed using state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber. Inspired by the famous London Rose Playhouse built in 1587, 12 years prior to The Globe, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE will house an audience of 900, with 560 seated in three covered tiers around an open-roofed courtyard with standing room for 340 ‘groundlings’. 

Both theatres will be located within a Shakespearean village, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the event, with ‘wagon’ performances of Elizabethan-style entertainment and the oak-framed and reed-thatched Bear Arms pub serving the best local food and drinks.  In York the village will feature an Elizabethan garden with ornate box-edged beds of flowers and herbs as well as a water fountain, while Blenheim Palace will feature a rustic rural scene complete with village pond, farm wagons and carts.  

The Blenheim Palace season will run from 8 July – 7 September, with casting to be announced.


SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE and Shakespeare’s Village are produced by Yorkshire-based Lunchbox Theatrical Productions. The Blenheim Palace season is presented in association with Raymond Gubbay Ltd and Blenheim Palace.

For more information on SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE or to book tickets at York please visit: 

York Listing Information
Clifford’s Tower, Tower St, York, YO1 9WD

Tuesday 25 June – Sunday 1 September 2019.
Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night
For full performance schedule please visit

York Booking Information
Book online 
By phone 0844 847 2483 
For Groups 0844 844 2121 or email 
Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. 
In Person SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, Tower St, York, YO1 9WD from 11am, Tues 25 June 2019 
Tickets also available from 
York Theatre Royal
Book online
By phone 01904 623 568
In person St Leonard's Pl, York YO1 7HD

All seats in SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE are the same – comfortably cushioned and backed, with plenty of leg room. Groundling tickets in the courtyard are open-air, all other seats are under cover.  Visit for seating plan and further details.
The York Experience £90.00*
Premium £65.95
A Reserve £54.95
B Reserve £43.95
C Reserve £32.95
D Reserve £27.45 (restricted view)
Groundlings £13.75
Wheelchairs - Courtyard £13.75, Premium £65.95.  Each wheelchair space includes carer seat free of charge. 
Children (17 and under) £3 off all seats, £2 off Groundlings.
Groups of 10+ receive 10% off and groups of 20+ receive 20% off Premium, A and B Reserve tickets.

Schools – Ten morning performances have been set aside for schools during July (see schedule), at £10 per ticket anywhere in the theatre, available by booking direct through Lunchbox Theatrical Productions on 01653 619650.  School tickets can be purchased for all other performances at the discounted price of £11.50 for Groundlings or £22 for best available B and C Reserve (limited to 50 tickets per performance). Teacher goes free with every 10 children.

Multi-Show Discounts: Buy tickets for 2 shows and enjoy 5% discount, 3 shows - 10% discount and all 4 shows - 15% discount. Only available through York Theatre Royal in Premium, A and B Reserve.

* The York Experience - 16 VIP seats are available for corporate entertainment or private parties, with an exclusive backstage experience and hospitality. Please contact Lunchbox Theatrical Productions on 01653 619650 for full details and to book tickets.
Prices inclusive of booking fee.  All transactions are subject to a single delivery charge, which varies by ticketing agent. 


About Lunchbox Theatrical Productions
Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, founded in 1992 by James Cundall MBE, has established an unrivalled reputation for producing top quality international entertainment in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia, Europe and South Africa.  

Producing West End and Broadway musicals, plays, boutique shows, spectaculars, concerts, children’s shows, ice shows and events across five continents, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions sells over one million visitor experiences per year.
In addition, from the company’s UK headquarters, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions has been delivering events in the UK and York region for over 14 years. This includes the award-winning Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland incorporating The Ice Factor; productions by The Imperial Ice Stars’ at Castle Howard, Royal Albert Hall, Chatsworth House and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland; THOR’S tipi bars in York, Leeds, Sheffield, Lincoln, London’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and Brighton; the Vintage Fun Fair in York City Centre; and Christmas at York Museum Gardens. In 2018, the company created SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE in York, which this year returns to York and makes its debut at Blenheim Palace.

For further information and interviews please contact:
Arabella Neville-Rolfe | |020 7052 1301