Christmas casting at Northern Stage
28 October 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan
Northern Stage has announced the casting for its Christmas production, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, adapted by Laura Lindow who wrote 2019’s Christmas show, The Snow Queen.
Beth Crame, who grew up in the North East and went to Newcastle Collage to study Musical Theatre, will play Hatty Rabbit, the little girl who has a big job to do after she receives a mysterious letter inviting her to an interview for a sorcerer’s apprentice.
She is joined by Talia Nyathi, a South African born Zimbabwean who is making her stage debut, having trained at Manchester School of Theatre where she won a Laurence Olivier Bursary; Nick Figgis (War Horse, West End) who played Scrooge in Northern Stage’s 2019 production of A Christmas Carol; Jessica Johnson, most recently seen starring in the 40th anniversary tour of Educating Rita with Stephen Tompkinson, who first appeared at Northern Stage in 2007 while studying at Newcastle College in A Christmas Carol adapted by Stephen Sharkey and directed by Erica Whyman; Hong Kong born, British-Thai Patrick Munday (West Side Story, BBC Proms); Heather Dutton (Treasure Island, National Theatre; Primetime, Royal Court); and Alice Blundell (The Winter’s Tale, Royal Shakespeare Company; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Northern Stage).
Maria Crocker will direct her first main stage show for Northern Stage. She trained on the theatre’s first NORTH programme in 2013 where she met her fellow founders of The Letter Room, appearing in The Man Who Thought the Moon Would Fall out of the Sky, and has performed in several Christmas productions there, including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. An associate artist at Headlong, her credits include associate director on the Tony Award-winning Hadestown for the National Theatre and Local Hero for The Lyceum.
The designer is Amanda Mascarenhas (Run It Back, Talawa Theatre Company, Cuttin’ It, Royal Exchange Theatre), with lighting design by Jai Morjaria (Wuthering Heights, National Theatre & Bristol Old Vic), sound design by Matthew Tuckey (Wolf!, Kitchen Zoo; Repeat Signal, November Club), movement direction by Gavin Coward—a performer, member and collaborator with balletLORENT—and original music by Katie Doherty who has created music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, five family Christmas productions for Northern Stage and the award-winning musical Beyond the End of the Road.
Molly Barrett-Manasseh will design and make the puppets, with puppetry direction by Thomas Walton, and associate director is North East dramaturg and director Rachael Walsh, one of two recipients of the 2021 JMK Victoria Wood Bursary.
Magic is a key part of the production, so Dr Will Houstoun has been enlisted as illusion designer and director. As well as numerous theatre credits with the Royal Shakespeare Company, West End shows, Northern Ballet and the Royal Opera House, he has worked on film and TV shows including Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, award-winning BBC drama series Wolf Hall starring Mark Rylance and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for Netflix. He said, “I’ve missed theatre enormously during the pandemic, so I can’t wait to be back using magic to help share astonishing moments in magical stories. And The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is full of magic, so I can’t imagine any illusionist who wouldn’t want to try and bring some of that to life on stage!”