Rima Te Wiata to Star in Shakespeare Spinoff

Press Release – Auckland Theatre Company


Rima Te Wiata to Star in
Shakespeare Spinoff

Auckland Theatre Company (ATC) will end its successful 2019 season with the award-winning and hilarious Tom Stoppard classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Oscar-winning playwright and screenwriter Sir Tom Stoppard’s (Shakespeare in Love) well loved absurdist romp is based on an inside-out telling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet which focuses on Hamlet’s student friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

In a reversal of misfortune, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern now find themselves as the headline act in Shakespeare’s greatest play. There’s no escaping their fate as pawns in Hamlet’s game of thrones but before they are outwitted the duo grab the spotlight and seize the moment as fearlessly funny commentators on their absurd predicament and the chaos of the universe. With cracking dialogue and a dizzying plot which dips in and out of Shakespeare’s original,Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a masterpiece of slapstick existentialism.

ATC’s Kensington Swan season of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead will be directed by the highly innovative and stylishly creative Benjamin Henson (Red Speedo, Titus, The Importance of Being Earnest). Henson comes straight from directing box office sensation Second Unit: What We Do In The Shadows for the New Zealand Festival.

Fully gender-blind casting has seen New Zealand’s beloved Rima Te Wiata ONZM (Billy Elliot the Musical, Hir, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Breaker Upperers) cast as The Player; a highly-coveted role for actors traditionally played by a male.

Dynamic comic duo Tom Clarke (Second Unit: What We Do In The Shadows, Macbeth, Shortland Street – The Musical) and Freya Finch (Second Unit: What We Do In The Shadows, BED, Shortland Street) will star in the leading roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, respectively.

Henson says, “Stoppard’s linguistic rollercoaster of a play is an extraordinary comedy classic. We’re honouring that while blazing forward with a fresh perspective. Freya Finch and Tom Clarke are modern clowns, overflowing with sparkle and charm, with the comic dexterity to juggle Stoppard’s acrobatic text. Combine that with stalwarts of stage and screen – including Rima Te Wiata, Lisa Chappell, Simon Prast and Bruce Phillips – original musical arrangements and a one-to-watch choreographer, we are looking forward to finishing ATC’s season on a wild ride.”

Joining Te Wiata, Clarke and Finch on stage are well-known actors Lisa Chappell (Shortland Street – The Musical, Fallen Angels, McLeod’s Daughters), Simon Prast (Othello, To Kill A Mockingbird, Filthy Rich), Bruce Phillips (The Wife Who Spoke Japanese In Her Sleep, Take A Chance On Me, 360) and Brynley Stent (Work Do, Funny Girls, Jono & Ben). Andrew Eddey(The Visit, Shakespeare and Love), Joe Witkowski (Filthy Business, Under the Mountain), dancer Matthew Moore (Rushes, Out of the Box), Grace Bentley-Tsibuah (Odd One Out, Rushes) and musician Robin Kelly complete the talented cast.

Henson leads a top team to bring his creative vision to life. It includes Set Designer RachaelWalker (The Daylight Atheist/Joan, Last Legs, Nell Gwynn), Lighting Designer Rachel Marlow(Red Speedo, My Own Darling, Sons), Costume Designer Nic Smillie (Filthy Business, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Doll’s House) and Sound Designer Robin Kelly (Amadeus, Guys and Dolls).

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was first performed in Edinburgh in 1966, with a recent Old Vic Theatre Company production, starring Daniel Radcliffe, receiving rave reviews. The play’s ongoing popularity is wrapped around its timeless themes of death and existentialism and its style of humour which is in a similar vein to Monty Python, The Goons, Blackadder and Waiting for Godot.

Stoppard’s play is a bucket list experience for any theatre lover.

Delivered in a bantering, bickering style with wit and wisdom to burn, the Kensington Swan season of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead will deliver a fresh take on a dazzlingly irreverent modern classic from Auckland’s premiere theatre company.


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