Nell Gwynn  
Nell Gwynn

by Jessica Swale

Directed by Roger Beaumont

Evenings at 7.30
Wednesday 6th - Saturday 9th December and Tuesday 12th - Saturday 16th December
Matinées at 3.00
Saturday 9th and Saturday 16th December

The Tower Theatre performing at the Bridewell Theatre, off Fleet Street

It is 1660. The Puritans have run away and Charles II has exploded onto the scene with a love of all things loud, French and sexy. And at Drury Lane, a young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence. Little does she know who's watching.

Premiered at The Globe and winner of the 2016 Olivier Best Comedy award, Nell Gwynn charts the rise of an unlikely heroine, from her roots in Coal Yard Alley to her success as Britain's most celebrated actress, and her hard-won place in the heart of the king. But at a time when women are second-class citizens, can her charm and spirit protect her from the dangers of the court? And at what cost?

Photography by David Sprecher

Cast List

Nell Gwynn : Grace Wardlaw
Rose Gwynn : Julia Flatley
Nancy : Valerie Antwi
Ma Gwynn : Jeanette Clarke
Queen Catherine : Ros Reeder
Lady Castlemaine : Emily Barnes
Louise de Keroualle : Clare Dodkins
King Charles II : James Dart
Charles Hart : Mike Hadjipateras
Thomas Killigrew : Simon Vaughan
Edward Kynaston : Simon Brooke
John Dryden : Felix Grainger
Lord Arlington : Daniel Watson
Ned Spigget : Adam Hampton-Matthews
William : Christian Search

Ensemble : Vanessa Renforth, Harriet Watson, Madeleine Gordon, Jonathan Brandt, Alice Boorman, Annie O'Brien, Rachel Berg

 

Production Team

Director : Roger Beaumont
Musical Director : Jonathan Norris
Set Design : Roger Beaumont
Costume Design : Lynda Twidale
Lighting Design : Robert Irvine
Sound Design : Leon Chambers
Choreographer/ Movement / Foley Sound : Ruth Sullivan
Stage Manager : Dinah Irvine
Assistant Director : Harry Reeder



Having just graduated from Guildford School of Acting (GSA) with an MA in Acting, Grace Wardlaw is thrilled to be taking on the role of Nell Gwynn in her first production with the Tower Theatre. She's delighted to play such a complex and challenging female character, which Jessica Swale has brought to life. As Nell says, this goes to show that we women are as "knotty and tangly" as men! Previous credits include the Duchess of Berwick in Lady Windermere's Fan at the Bridewell, Lady Sneerwell in The School For Scandal at the Waterloo East Theatre, and Anya in The Cherry Orchard and Ruth/Kirsty in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - both at GSA.
 
Julia Flatley is new to the Tower Theatre Company and this will be her first production in ten years. She has a degree in English Literature and studied acting for a year at AADA in New York. She is excited to be a part of this production.
Valerie Antwi is thrilled to be part of the Nell Gwynn company. This is her first production with the Tower Theatre; previous fringe productions include Macbeth, The Government Inspector and Clybourne Park (SEDOS), Anna Karenina (Putney Arts), Sweet Charity (GEOIDS), Blood Wedding and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (KDC Theatre)
 
Jeanette Clarke has been a Tower Theatre member since 1992. She performed until 2001 then took a long break during which she trained in the additional skill of improvisation. She returned to the Tower to play Dorine in Tartuffe (2016). Her favourite Tower appearances have been in Two (the 1995 production), The Winter's Tale, Relative Values and Greek. Credits elsewhere include The Seagull at the Ognisko Polskie Theatre (the Polish Hearth Club Theatre).
Rosalind Reeder graduated in Creative Arts after which she performed her own one-woman show around various London Fringe theatres. She has been a Tower member since 2000 and has performed in a wide range of roles including works by Noël Coward, Tennessee Williams, Neil Simon, Brian Friel and David Mamet.
 
This is Emily Barnes' first appearance with the Tower Theatre Company. Previously she indulged her love of acting by studying Drama at University, as a long term member of Finchley Youth Theatre and The Actors Company in North London, as well as successfully auditioning for plays with KDC and Chelmsford Theatre Workshop. With these companies she has enjoyed being cast in a variety of challenging roles over the years, including Margaret Hughes in The Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Lady Celia Cane in Her Naked Skin, Bride in Blood Wedding, Gertrude in Hamlet, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mephistopheles in Dr Faustus, Mary McGinty in Once a Catholic and Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project. When she's not scampering about on stage, she can be found supplementing her income as a mental health worker by decorating the hair and faces of Essex and North London as a Vintage Hair and Makeup artist.
Clare Dodkins is thrilled to be in her first production with the Tower Theatre. Previous roles include The Woman in The Pink Bedroom (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Asta in Little Eyolf (The University of Birmingham), Elaine in The Graduate (The University of Birmingham), Gabrielle York in When The Rain Stops Falling (The University of Birmingham), Helen Banner in After The Dance (The University of Birmingham), Debbie in Love and Money (Hurtwood House) and Viola in Twelfth Night (Hurtwood House).
 
This is James Dart's second production with the Tower Theatre Company after playing Stanley Stubbers in One Man, Two Guvnors. He is very excited to be returning to the Tower in a wig and tights for the role of King Charles II who has quickly become one of his favorite historical figures. James' other credits include Fagin in Oliver!, King Rat in Dick Whittington, Cassius in Julius Caesar, George Balfour in Posh and Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He is currently working on a production of Goethe and Christiane which will be at the Vaults festival in Feb 2018.
Mike Hadjipateras is an acting member of Questors' Theatre in Ealing and his favourite roles include Faustus in Dr Faustus, Trigorin in The Seagull, Louis Harvey in The Ladykillers and Proctor in The Crucible. As a "finatic" of Jaws, he is featured as a Quint impersonator in the blu-ray DVD version in the documentary The Shark is still Working. Mike teaches History at the Rudolf Steiner School in Hertfordshire.
 
Simon Vaughan is a new recruit and this is his first production with the Tower Company. He performed in a number of short films and theatre productions while at university, before being beaten into the life of a political journalist. Recent training at Central has prompted a return to the stage. When not acting, he can be found performing folk songs or sword dancing with his team, Thrales Rapper.
Simon Brooke's background is in screenwriting and script editing, but he has had the occasional dalliance with the world of stand-up comedy. He was in a drama club as a teenager, but after a very long gap he's thrilled to be in his first play.
 
Felix Grainger has just joined the Tower Theatre Company and this is his first production. A recent graduate from the University of Oxford, Felix is finding his feet in the London theatre scene with the hopes of training next year. Whilst at university he was involved in over ten stage productions and a few short films including Richard II, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus, Heaven Knows (short film) to name but a few.
Daniel Watson's previous roles include Montague in Romeo and Juliet, Grumio and Vincentio in The Taming of the Shrew, Ross in Macbeth, Oliver in As You Like It, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Theseus, Oberon, Egeus and Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and not being keen on type casting unless it pays the rent he has also played a singing Roman slave, Cockney tap dancer, Welsh ballroom dancer, newspaper proprietor, Victorian husband, arrogant earl, timid vicar, Yorkshire pit miner, ship's purser, Pinterian professor, grovelling Dickensian clerk, and a lycra clad Hamlet on ice skates amongst others.
 
Nell Gwynn is Adam Hampton-Matthews' fifth appearance for the Tower Theatre Company having joined in 2014. His previous roles were Edgar in King Lear Lomax in Major Barbara, George in Sons of Paradise and numerous roles in the award-winning production of The Producers both in London and at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall. Other credits include Lawrence in Calendar Girls, Uncle Max in The Sound of Music, Jekyll & Hyde, Daddy Warbucks in Annie and Leaf in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Nell Gwynn is Christian Search's first performance with the Tower Theatre. Over the last few years, he has performed with theatres across London including the Questors, where his roles have ranged from the tragic (Malcolm, Macbeth), to the ridiculous (Major Saranoff, Arms and The Man) and from the law-abiding (Constable MacDonald, The Ladykillers) to the downright criminal (Ensemble, She Stoops to Conquer). Christian has flirted with musicals (Choir, How to Succeed in Business ... and Dick Barton in Dick Barton, The Tango of Terror), one-act plays (Talk to Me Like the Rain ...) and occasionally new writing (Captain Marshall, Slave : Escaping the Chains of Freedom).
 
Nell Gwynn is Vanessa Renforth's first production with the Tower. Previous productions at Newcastle's People's Theatre include Electra, Play it again Sam, and Vincent in Brixton. While living in Madrid, Vanessa performed in a selection of Spanish plays and was also a member of the National Youth Theatre. Along with acting, Vanessa has a passion for dancing and has performed in multiple dancing shows from a very young age. Off the stage, Vanessa is a Recruitment Officer for the world's largest cross-border law firm.
Harriet Watson was lucky enough to do a lot of acting at school but then there was a long gap before joining the Tower Theatre Company in 1998. Her first part was a wonderful character, Betty, in Good Fun and since then, she has played a variety of roles, notably, twice as an ambiguous man/woman! She was seen earlier this year as Mrs Soames in Our Town.
 
Nell Gwynn is Madeleine Gordon's second show with the Tower having appeared in Pravda in November. Her other recent credits include Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice (Richmond Shakespeare Society, Oct 2016), Anne Brontë We Three Sisters (RSS, March 2016) and Harriet in Teddington Theatre Club's production of Colder Than Here for which she was nominated for a Arts Richmond SWAN Award. She trained in Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.
Jonathan Brandt was born in Paris; he trained at The Bridge Theatre Training Company. When in France he played Orgon in Tartuffe, Arlecchino in Women's Gossip, Bacchus in The Frogs and Monsieur Hochepaix in Ne te promène donc pas toute nue. In England, he appeared in Romeo and Juliet, played Caliban in The Tempest and was Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He also played Man in Laughing Wild and was Cinderella's father, a dwarf and Clever Hans in Grimm Tales. Last year he did voice-over work for the BBC Radio 4 series Home Front. This summer he played Conrade in the Tower's production of Much Ado About Nothing. He has also directed his first theatre production, The Empire Builders, which was performed at the Hen and Chickens theatre.
 
Alice Boorman is a new member to the Tower Theatre, but has been part of amateur dramatics and musical theatre since she was a child having appeared in local productions of Much Ado about Nothing, Fame, Macbeth and My Mother Said I Never Should. This is her first dalliance back into the arts after having a short sabbatical that saw her complete her masters degree in history and work for a year in television production at the BBC. Now working for Warner Bros, when she's not on the stage, she spends her working hours coming up with ideas for new TV shows!
Annie O'Brien works in events and is a recent Theatre graduate from the University of Birmingham. This is her first Tower Theatre show but has recently Assistant Stage Managed Frankenstein for SEDOS.
 
Rachel Berg trained as a professional dancer in Covent Garden at the West Street School, where she was awarded a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Dancing and went on to win the Alicia Markova Cup, awarded by Ninette de Valois. As a dancer and choreographer her career took her all over the world, with highlights including Sadlers Wells, Abbey Road Studios, York Minster, KoKo in Camden and the inside of a hot air balloon to mention only a few. Whizz forward a decade and two sons later, Rachel decided to reopen the theatrical box and started to perform with her local dramatic society, Garden Suburb Theatre. She has enjoyed playing Mrs Bedwin in Oliver, Yvette in Allo Allo, Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing and one of 'Two Ladies' in Cabaret. Most recently, she played Cathy in The Regina Monologues at the Gaiety Theatre, for which she received an award for Best Actress at the Manx Amateur Drama Federation 2017. This will be her first production with the Tower Theatre and she is extremely excited to be treading the boards again in the West End.
Over his 24 Tower Company years, Jonathan Norris has been involved in about sixty productions - acting (Inspector Hubbard in Dial M For Murder, Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion), music-directing (A Little Night Music and Guys and Dolls) or helping to provide music on keyboard or trombone. By day, he and his wife Ruth commute in from fashionable Clapton to earn a crust as Administrators of the Company.
 
Roger Beaumont's directing credits include - For the Tower Theatre : Chapter Two, Aladdin, Neville's Island, Outside Edge, The Gay Detective, Speed-The-Plow, The Birthday Party, A Doll's House, Miss Julie, Blackbird, Endgame, The Winterling, The Last of the Haussmans, Hedda Gabler and Jeeves and Wooster in 'Perfect Nonsense'; For Questors Theatre : Design for Living, A Streetcar Named Desire, Closer, Duet for One, Waiting for Godot, Festen, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Humble Boy and All My Sons; For SEDOS : Three Sisters and Boeing Boeing. Acting credits for the Tower Theatre include Eddy in Greek, Burton in Burn This, Benny in My Night with Reg, Ray Say in Little Voice, Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, Laurent in Thérèse Raquin, Jake Blues in Tribute to the Blues Brothers, George in Kvetch, Ray in Blackbird and, most recently, Griffin in The Night Heron.