Jack to make RSC debut in Magician’s Elephant

Published: 13 July 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Jack Wolfe who will make his RSC debut as Peter Duchene Credit: Leigh Lothian
Olivier Award-nominated Summer Strallen will play Countess Quintet Credit: Jon Holloway
Keisha Amponsa Banson takes the role of Gloria Matienne Credit: John Walker

Jack Wolfe is to make his Royal Shakespeare Company debut in the lead role in The Magician's Elephant, a new musical which will mark the reopening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford.

Twenty-six-year-old Wolfe will play orphan Peter Augustus Duchene. He took the role of Kai in The Snow Queen at Rose Theatre, Kingston in 2019 and two years before that he was Danny in Pinocchio at the National Theatre.

The Magician’s Elephant features Peter who lives a frugal life in the lonely town of Baltese. One day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky. The animal's appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable that it changes Baltese forever. Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

This new adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's children's story has book and lyrics by Nancy Harris and music and lyrics by Marc Teitler.

Nominated four times for an Olivier Award, Summer Strallen will make her RSC debut as Countess Quintet. She has performed various leading roles including Dale Tremont in Irving Berlin’s Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre in 2013 and Meg Giry in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies in 2010.

Marc Antolin will play Leo. He was an original member of the RSC’s Matilda the Musical and also played the painter Marc Chagall in the Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic production of Daniel Jamieson’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk in 2020.

Keisha Amponsa Banson takes the role of Gloria Matienne. She played Mrs Phelps in Matilda the Musical as well as one of the radio trio in the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tersori’s Caroline, or Change in 2019.

Returning to the RSC after his role as Mr Hawtrey, the headmaster in The Boy in the Dress in 2019, is RSC associate artist Forbes Masson who will play the police chief.

The cast also includes Sam Harrison (Count Quintet), Mark Meadows (Vilna Lutz), Alastair Parker (magician), Sharif Afifi (milliner), Alison Arnopp (baker), Hannah Brown (swing), Michael Carolan (swing), Lucca Chadwick-Patel (fishmonger), Stephen John Davis (doctor), Zoe Halliday, Wela Mbusi and Suzanne Nixon who play the elephant, Wendy Somerville (Mrs Griswald) and Mandi Symonds (Sister Marie).

The Magician's Elephant will be directed by Sarah Tipple, associate director to Gregory Doran on The Boy in the Dress. Design will be by Colin Richmond, lighting by Oliver Fenwick, music supervision and musical direction by Tom Brady, orchestrations by Sarah Travis and Marc Teitler, vocal arrangements by Tom Brady and Marc Teitler, sound by Paul Groothuis and movement by Francesca Jaynes.

Dramaturgy is by Réjane Collard-Walker, puppetry direction is by Mervyn Millar and puppetry design by Mervyn Millar and Tracy Waller. The magic consultant is John Bulleid and video is by Douglas O'Connell.

The world première of The Magician's Elephant will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Thursday 14 October until Saturday 1 January 2022 (press night on Tuesday 26 October).