Oh Mr Bennet! Matthew Kelly leads Open Air Theatre Pride & Prejudice tour

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The Jane Austen bodice-ripper, Pride And Prejudice, returns to close the 2016 season at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and is set for a major UK tour this autumn and winter.

Simon Reade’s adaptation will star Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennet, Tafline Steen as Elizabeth Bennet, Benjamin Dilloway as Mr Darcy and Doña Croll as Lady Catherine De Bourgh. They join the previously announced Felicity Montagu as Mrs Bennet.

The costume drama played to sell-out audiences in 2013. It opens at OAT on September 2 and will tour into 2017.

Pride and Prejudice is the third Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production to tour the UK, following their smash hit productions of To Kill a Mockingbird in 2014/15 and Lord of the Flies in 2015/16.

One of the most universally loved and quintessentially English novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters.

A family of humble means, Mr and Mrs Bennet see the perfect opportunity to improve their social standing when the wealthy Mr Bingley and his eligible friend Mr Darcy move to the neighbourhood.

2013 Cast
2013 Cast

But while Bingley takes an immediate liking to their eldest daughter Jane, the dismissive Darcy instantly clashes with the Bennet’s headstrong second daughter, Elizabeth.

As the Bennet sisters haplessly search for love in Jane Austen’s ultimate romantic comedy, it is Mr Darcy who unwittingly finds his match.

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies and spawning numerous adaptations, most notably the 1940 film starring Laurence Olivier and the 1995 BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth.

The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice was first staged in 2013 and returns as we approach Jane Austen’s bicentennial in 2017.

Matthew Kelly has enjoyed huge stage success. His credits include playing the original Stanley in Funny Peculiar; Waiting For Godot with Ian McKellen; Tim Firth’s Sign of the Times and as Lennie in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of Of Mice and Men, at the Savoy Theatre, where his performance won him the Olivier Award for Best Actor.

His other most recent theatre credits include The Jew of Malta, Volpone and Love’s Sacrifice for the RSC, Toast (Park Theatre/59E59, New York), Twelfth Night (Liverpool Everyman) and The History Boys (Crucible, Sheffield).

Television work includes the award-winning thriller Cold Blood, Benidorm and Bleak House – although he is perhaps still best known for presenting ITV’s You Bet! and Stars in their Eyes.

Tafline Steen made her professional debut as Jess in King Charles III at the Almeida Theatre, before reprising her role in the West End and on Broadway.

Benjamin Dilloway has appeared on screen in Kingsman: The Secret Service, New Blood (BBC) and Silk (BBC), with stage work including Of Mice and Men (Birmingham Rep) and King Lear (Almeida Theatre).

Doña Croll is best known for her screen roles as Vera Corrigan in Doctors (BBC) and Pearl McHugh in Family Affairs (Channel 5), with theatre credits including All My Sons (Birmingham Rep), Heresy of Love (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Almeida Theatre).

The cast also features Hollie Edwin, Kirsty Rider and Anna Crichlow, making their professional debuts, Mari Izzard, Leigh Quinn, Jordan Mifsúd, Steven Meo, Daniel Abbott, Francesca Bailey, Charlotte Palmer and Mark Rawlings.

2016/17 UK TOUR (More dates to be announced)

September 2-17, REGENT’S PARK OPEN AIR THEATRE
September 21-24, BROMLEY Churchill Theatre
September 27-October 1, NORWICH Theatre Roya
October 4-8, CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
October 11-15, SALFORD The Lowry
October 18-22, LEICESTER Curve
October 25-29, WOKING New Victoria Theatre
November 1-5, TRURO Hall for Cornwall
November 8-12, BIRMINGHAM Rep
November 15-19, RICHMOND Theatre

January 17-21, BATH Theatre Royal
January 24-28, HIGH WYCOMBE Swan
January 31-February 4, CANTERBURY Marlowe Theatre
February 14-18, NEWCASTLE Theatre Royal
February 21-25, CARDIFF Wales Millennium Centre.

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