Full cast for NI Opera's Into The Woods Announced

Northern Ireland Opera announces the full casting for its first musical production of 2022, staged at the Lyric, Belfast from 3 to 27 February. The 18 strong line-up, hailing predominantly from Northern Ireland, includes major West-End performers as well as stalwarts across Theatre, Musical Theatre and Opera genres.

Wendy Ferguson, who has appeared in major Musical Theatre shows in the West-End throughout her 25 year career including Phantom of The Opera (HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE), OLIVER! (THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE) and Mary Poppins (International Tour) will play Jack’s Mother and this marks her first production back in her native country. Well-known Northern Irish actor Sean Kearns who has also appeared in a variety of West-End roles including Comedy About A Bank Robbery (CRITERION); Wicked (APOLLO), The Commitments (PALACE), Billy Elliot (VICTORIA PALACE) and the 39 Steps (CRITERON) is the Narrator and leads a talented cast which also includes Alistair Brookshaw (Caroline or Change, PLAYHOUSE/HAMPSTEAD THEATRE, Sweeney Todd, ENO) and Sinéad O’Kelly (Michael Gallen’s Elsewhere, Glenarm Festival of Voice winner 2013) who have been cast as the Baker and Baker’s wife respectively. A surprise Cameo role will be announced shortly.

This new epic production of Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s Into The Woods, one of the most iconic and popular shows in the musical theatre canon, richly laden with symbolism, magic and metaphor, will be directed by NI Opera’s Artistic Director Cameron Menzies. His critically-acclaimed career spans the world of opera, theatre, musical theatre, film and cabaret.

Musicals performed at the Lyric by NI Opera, an award-winning national opera company, have become a cultural highlight of the season and Into The Woods follows on from three previous sell out NI Opera shows staged there - The Threepenny Opera in 2018, Sweeney Todd in 2019 and Kiss Me Kate in 2020.

Cameron will draw on his expansive skills and influences across the performing arts to create a showstopper, spotlighting the best of Northern Irish music and creative talent including Enniskillen-born designer Niall McKeever, who will be leading on a spectacular set and costume design.

Musical direction will be by Peter Mitchell (Snow White, Dick Whittington, LONDON PALLADIUM, Sister Act Tour, 42nd Street Tour) and movement direction by Jennifer Rooney.

Cameron describes Into the Woods as the ultimate ‘quest’ musical and says: “It’s a wonderfully intriguing story that brings together and intertwines some of the beloved Brother’s Grimm fairytales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel to ask what might have happened before ‘Once upon a time’ and after ‘Happily ever after’. We are thrilled to be introducing Belfast to some wonderful local talent, while also showcasing some of the West End’s finest performers, some originally from Northern Ireland making their long-awaited debut performances back home. We will endeavour to create a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest musical theatre composers/lyricists of all time. There is truly now a Giant in the Sky.”

Into The Woods will be Cameron’s second live production since he took the helm at NI Opera mid-pandemic in 2020. His first show was a critically-acclaimed staging of Puccini’s La Bohéme (“Opera at its Finest” Opera Now Magazine, Dec 2021) n Belfast’s Carlisle Memorial Church in September 2021 and he also produced the acclaimed cinematic experience Old Friends And Other Days which was selected for the Belfast Film Festival, the London International Short Film Festival and is a Finalist in The British Short Films Awards 2021.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera at the Arts Council Northern Ireland comments: “Despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic, Northern Ireland Opera has offered audiences world-class performances and opportunities for our talented singers to perform and gain employment. This company has delivered really exciting and impressive work and The Arts Council is hugely proud to support them. What a fantastic start for opera in NI for 2022!”

Cameron joined the organisation mid-pandemic in November 2020, and is leading this award-winning national opera company, widely acclaimed as one of the most exciting operatic start-ups in UK and Irish history into an exciting new era. It’s philosophy of artistic excellence and risk-taking, is underpinned by a bold and imaginative approach to programming and productions.

Listings information:

Venue: The Lyric

Dates: 3 – 27 February 2022

Times: Evenings 7.30pm and Matinees 2.30pm

Prices: Previews: £15, £24, £31. Performances: £15, £27, £35

Booking Link: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/whats-on/into-the-woods   

Address: 55 Ridgeway St, Belfast BT9 5FB

Box office: 028 9038 1081

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