Shakespeare casting update

More than 5,000 actors have applied for roles in this year’s Stafford Shakespeare production – the biggest response since the company was founded in 1991.
Auditions were taking place in London over the past week after 14 roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream were advertised in theatre press and stage directories.
The production has a full professional cast of 17, with three of the roles already allocated to Australian actor Jonathan Hyde (Titanic, Jumanji) who will play Nick Bottom, Broadway star Kerry Ellis (Wicked, Les Miserables) as Tatania and Milly Zero (All at Sea, EastEnders) who will play Hermia.
Producer Mike Groves (pictured) said: ‘We were expecting around 1,500 applications for roles in the Stafford Shakespeare production, but we ended up with 5,132. The response was incredible and it just goes to show how highly regarded these plays are on a national level.
‘Everyone knows that the production values will be spot on and standards will be incredibly high.
‘We have whittled it down to 150 auditionees, with some fairly well-known names in among them, so it’s very exciting to be down in London seeing who could be in our cast. We actually had to extend our stay because there were so many people we wanted to see.’
Director Sean Turner and Company Stage Manager Wesley Carter make up the casting team with Mike.
As well as the principal cast members, the producers are planning one or two big name surprises for the show, which runs at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre from June 23 – July 9.
Marketing manager Keith Harrison said: ‘I don’t think the Gatehouse will ever have seen a show like it and there’s a real buzz about the place as the opening night draws nearer.’
More than 2,000 tickets have already been sold and the producers have also announced a spin-off production called The Fairy Academy for younger theatre-goers.
Mike Groves explained: ‘It’s linked to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is a great introduction to the theatre for children aged 5-9. The youngsters join in and complete various tasks before a full graduation ceremony where they receive their fairy wings, which they get to keep, of course.
‘It will all be staged in a magical setting with a beautiful sound and light show so we are really excited to be welcoming some younger theatre-goers alongside our main production.’



Broadway star Kerry joins Shakespeare cast

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is proud to announce that Broadway and West End star KERRY ELLIS has joined the cast of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

Award-winning Kerry will play Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in the town’s prestigious annual Shakespeare production.

She recently completed a headline run in Anything Goes at the Barbican in London and her other credits include Fantine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London, Nancy in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal and Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium, taking over from Nicole Scherzinger.

She is perhaps best known for her role in the original cast of Wicked as witch Elphaba. After taking over the lead role from Idina Menzel she became the first West End actor to transfer the role to Broadway in 2009. She has also appeared as Meat in We Will Rock You and performed live with her long-time musical collaborator, Queen guitarist Brian May. In May, her fifth studio album – Kings and Queens – will be released after being produced by Mike Stevens, who has worked with Take That and ELO.

Kerry said: ’I am so excited to be joining the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to play Titania, Queen of the Fairies. This will be a new challenge for me and I cannot wait to get going on my first Shakespeare play.’

Producer Mike Groves said: ‘We are beyond delighted to have Kerry in our cast; she is a huge talent and it’s a real coup for Stafford to get someone of her international standing on board.

’We are looking forward to delivering something special in Stafford this summer.’

The production runs from July 23 – July 9 at the theatre.


Money off drinks this February

Fancy a drink? Get 10 per cent off when pre-ordering through our app in February. Plus, it’s a nifty way to beat the queues. Here’s how to do it:
1) Download the Gatehouse Theatre app from the app store…/gatehouse-caf%C3…/id1581481300
or GooglePlay…
2) Select your event
3) Choose your drink and order for pre-show or interval
4) Collect from opposite the Box Office
5) Enjoy ten per cent off!
For further information, visit or call 01785 619080.



University joins panto team

Staffordshire University has raised the curtain on an exciting new educational initiative with Stafford’s Gatehouse Theatre.

The University, which this year launched the UK’s first degree dedicated to the art of pantomime, is to sponsor the Gatehouse pantomime Cinderella which runs from Friday 9 December – Saturday 31 December.

Directed by Richard Cheshire – Course Leader for the MA Contemporary Pantomime Practice and MA Collaborative Theatre Practice – Cinderella is expected to attract more than 18,000 visitors to the county town over the festive period.

Staffordshire University Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to connect with families and theatre-goers over this year’s pantomime.

“We have invested nearly £50m into our two Staffordshire campuses this year alone, using next generation teaching and facilities to inspire and nurture the talent of the region. Arts and culture have an important part to play in enriching the lives of people living in our communities and we want to play a starring role.”

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Manager Gary Stevens added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Staffordshire University for this year’s Cinderella pantomime. The University plays a big role in Stafford and its Masters course in Contemporary Pantomime Practice is an example of the innovation that makes Staffordshire such a creative county.

“We hope as many people as possible will join us for a family visit to the theatre for a panto that has something for everyone – oh yes it does!’

Staffordshire University’s Blackheath Lane campus in Stafford is currently the study base for more than 2,000 student nurses, midwives, operating department practitioners and paramedics.

Featuring the most advanced health simulation technology, the Centre for Health Innovation has benefited from £5.8 investment from the government’s Getting Building Fund and offers a series of flexible and immersive simulation spaces designed to enhance clinical competency and the learning experience for students.

Professor Jones added: “Our new sector-leading facilities in Stafford will help drive the digital health agenda and accelerate the transformation of the health workforce using immersive technology and advanced teaching. We’re also delighted that the Centre will play a key role in supporting start-ups and SMEs through the facilities, expertise and support we have to offer, driving new innovations and promoting new product development and research.”

Staffordshire University will also use the Gatehouse sponsorship opportunity to promote its courses across a broad range of subject areas including Business, Computing, Criminology, Law, Psychology and Sport and Exercise. Campus tours and subject showcases are taking place at Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent throughout December and January.

For Cinderella tickets and information click here


Gary takes the helm

We are delighted to announce that Gary Stevens has been appointed as General Manager of the Gatehouse Theatre.

Gary, who was formerly Operations Manager, takes on the role with immediate effect.

He said: ‘I am delighted to have been appointed to lead the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford as the new General Manager.

‘The Gatehouse has established itself as a creative force, and it is an honour to be entrusted to continue to build on this.

‘I will remain invested in the company’s continued success and look forward to seeing it continue to evolve and inspire audiences across the county of Staffordshire and beyond.’

Vastly experienced, Gary was previously General Manager and Operations Director of The Old Rep in Birmingham and also Head of Front of House at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton, among other roles.

He replaces Tim Ford, who has left to pursue new opportunities and leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the Gatehouse and Freedom Leisure.


Programme Update

In accordance with guidance issued by the Government, Buckingham Palace and governing body UK Theatre, performances at the Gatehouse will continue as scheduled during the period of mourning for HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Theatres across the country will continue with their performances, but will be dimming their lights and observing a minute’s silence beforehand.
They will also be playing the National Anthem and opening books of condolences prior to performances as soon as possible as a mark of their respect to Her Majesty.
A statement from Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre said the theatre industry is “deeply saddened” by the news of the Queen’s death.
The message, from Stephanie Sirr and Jon Gilchrist, joint Presidents of UK Theatre and Eleanor Lloyd, President of SOLT, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“The theatre industry is thankful for all the support and patronage Her Majesty has shown throughout her lifetime. We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to the Royal Family at this time of national mourning.”
They added that, in accordance with advice from the DCMS, scheduled theatre performances will go ahead during the official period of mourning.


REVEALED: Our Cinderella cast

Our brilliant cast for this year’s CINDERELLA pantomime can now be revealed. Who’s coming to have a ball with us?

First up is the absolutely fabulous HARRIET THORPE from, errrr, Absolutely Fabulous and loads more besides. Harriet will play the Fairy Godmother this Christmas and can’t wait to cast her spell on Stafford.

Then there’s our very own TOM VAUGHAN as Prince Charming. Fresh from ROMEO + JULIET where he met a sticky fate as the Prince of Cats, will Cinderella have a happy ending for Tom? (Hey, we can’t give away the plot already!)

AYA ELMANSOURI is our Cinderella; a ‘stunning new talent’ with the voice of an angel and a huge personality to match. We can’t wait to see Aya make her Gatehouse debut.

Next up is the hilarious RICKY K, who won the heart of the nation on Britain’s Got Talent and is sure to repeat the same trick in ST16 as Buttons.

Then there’s the multi-talented ALLAN JAY as the all-singing, all dancing, all-wisecracking Dandini, who makes sure everyone goes to the ball.

And finally, we’ve saved the ugliest to last – its JASON SUTTON and WILL PEACO as the Ugly Sisters (Boo! Hiss!). Will they give Cinderella time off to go to the ball? Will they charm the handsome prince? Will that glass slipper ever fit? What do YOU think?

Tickets are flying out for this spectacular pantomime, which runs from December 9-31. Group discounts are available and schools are welcome to give us a call to arrange a magical trip to the Gatehouse. Call 01785 619080 for details or book here


Blog News

Visiting Programme Call Out

The Gatehouse Theatre is doing an open call to find professional theatre companies, independent producers and individual performers around the UK and beyond who are touring professional shows in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

We’ve been open since 1982 so know a huge number of companies and our team regularly scouts new work. However we, of course, still miss finding out about some amazing shows until it’s too late.

If you’re a professional theatre company or an independent producer and you’d like us to find out more about your work then we’d love you to get in touch

Every year we programme hundreds of shows and events across a range of theatre spaces – from our front of house piano bar area for 50 people to shows for our 140 seat MET studio and our 535 seat main house theatre.

We’ve been open since 1982 so know a huge number of companies and our team regularly scouts new work. However, we of course still miss finding out about some amazing shows until it’s too late.

Our Venues

We have two venues that we’re mainly booking for; the main Gatehouse auditorium (535 seats) and The MET studio (140 seats).

Both have excellent sound and lighting facilities and generate fantastic atmospheres.

As an organisation we’re also interested in small-scale work that could tour and work in other spaces across the region.




Guidance Notes:

These notes are specific for this call out – we may do other calls in future for community companies, artists, actors, creatives or co-producing.

What we’re looking for…

 Work that is professionally touring

 Companies where everyone is paid at least Equity minimum

 Touring in 2023 and 2024

 Work that isn’t touring but might extend its run to tour to us

 New co-producing relationships

 All genres… Theatre, music, comedy, spoken word, Evenings With…, burlesque, dance, gig, jazz, family work, podcasts, talks and tribute acts.

What we’re not looking for…

 Unproduced scripts
 Shows currently with no attached creatives

Please send all submissions to Tim Ford C/o

Blog News


Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is delighted to announce AYA BENYAHYA will play CINDERELLA in this year’s spectacular Christmas pantomime.
Aya, a successful singer/songwriter who has featured on BBC Music Introducing will be making her Gatehouse debut in the pantomime, which runs from December 9-31.
She said: ‘I’m sooo looking forward to playing Cinderella at the Gatehouse this Christmas – it’s like a Fairy Godmother granted my wish! It’s a dream role, in an amazing theatre in a beautiful town that I’ve heard so many good things about.
‘I’ll be scrubbing up on my cleaning skills and polishing every pumpkin I can find to get ready for the panto. I can’t wait to meet everyone (even my Ugly Sisters!).
‘Hopefully as many people as possible will have a ball at the Gatehouse – we promise to have you back home by midnight!’
Theatre manager Tim Ford said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have Aya as our Cinderella in Stafford.
‘She has so much stage presence and charisma and we know audiences are going to love her – just like Prince Charming does.’ Producer Matt Brinkler said: ‘Aya just blew us away in her audition. It was one of those moments when we all just stood back, looked at each other and went ‘wow!’.
‘We are delighted to have snapped her up because she is going to be a big, BIG star and we cannot wait to introduce her to the people of Stafford.’
The Gatehouse is looking to set another new audience record with CINDERELLA and almost 4,000 tickets have already been snapped up.
Marketing Manager Keith Harrison said: ‘After everyone had such a great time with SNOW WHITE last year, people are buying their tickets earlier than ever. It may be August in sunny Stafford but Christmas will be on us before we know it, so don’t delay – book your tickets today.’
Contact the Box Office on 01785 619080 or book online here