The clock has been turned back almost 100 years at Stafford Castle as the popular Shakespeare Festival opens today.
Thousands of people are expected to descend on the landmark to enjoy outdoor performances of The Bard’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, which takes centre stage at the 25th Stafford Festival Shakespeare.
Work to build a main stage started on June 1 – the same day as rehearsals began. Around 16,000 theatre goers are set to enjoy the comedy throughout the duration of the festival, which runs until mid July. The show, produced by Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, will be set in Stafford in 1918 at the close of the First World War. The set and costumes designs have been created by critically acclaimed designer Dawn Allsopp, who is new to the creative team this year.
A cast of 14 actors and musicians will bring the show to life and they will be playing a wide range of instruments during the show, including violin, trumpet, flute, clarinet, mandolin, banjo, drums and piano.
The show is directed by Peter Rowe. It will be his seventh production, after first joining the team to direct Twelfth Night in 2009. Producer Derrick Gask said: “The show is in great shape, everyone is really proud. “The weather is looking good too so the audience are in for a real treat.”
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Musical director Greg Palmer added: “As we’ve set the show in the aftermath of the First World War, the soundworld I’ve chosen to use is that of the music hall.
“So the pre-show sequence will include songs that would have been popular in theatres in the first couple of decades of the 20th century.”
The production will run at Stafford Castle until July 11.
Tickets are £12 from the box office on 01785 619080.