Romeo and Juliet rehearsing with Lou Merrifield

Beth Millward and Julian Laws rehearsing Romeo and Juliet with Director, Lou Merrifield

Tickets are now on sale for the first ever Wells Theatre Festival which launches an exciting programme of theatre and workshops today.

The programme includes a mix of world class theatre and performance as well as a series of workshops run by leading theatre practitioners including, Sir Richard Eyre, Clarke Peters, Dominic Mafham and Harry Burton. A percentage of the profits from this first year will go to Antony Nolan the charity that works to save and improve the lives of everyone who needs a stem cell transplant.

Jonathan Guy Lewis’ production of I Found My Horn, based on Jasper Rees’ best selling book about his experience of setting out to renew his relationship with the instrument he hadn’t touched for 31 years. “A thoroughly enjoyable account of his struggles with the horn he loves and mistrusts as if it were some wayward mistress” (The Times). “Lewis is terrific, playing not only the French horn – supposedly up there with the oboe for difficulty – but also a hilarious range of brass-playing eccentrics” (The Guardian).

Fresh from sell out shows on Broadway and the Edinburgh Fringe, acclaimed forensic mind reader Colin Cloud brings – Psycho (Logical) to the Wells Theatre Festival. Cloud’s astounding deductions and outrageous stunts have stunned audiences and intrigued sceptics from New York to Australia; from London’s West End to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Fellow mind reader and spoon-bender Uri Geller described him as “one of the greatest thought readers of all time”.

“You may find the answers to what you‘re looking for – if you can deal with the shock. For better or worse, you’ll be altered forever.” You have been warned. ***** (Edinburgh Evening News). ***** (Daily Record).

For young children, Wells Theatre Festival presents The Fabularium’s Reynard the Fox follows the woodland’s most infamous scoundrel who prides himself on being the trickster of the forest. Reynard the Fox, is a new piece of engaging outdoor theatre for family audiences of all ages, using The Fabularium’s unique aesthetic, strong imagery and all performed upon their traditional wooden cart. It will feature storytelling, puppetry, original live music and The Fabularium’s bespoke animal headpieces.

The centre piece of the Wells Theatre Festival is the community performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performed entirely by local residents. Beth Millward (16) from Shepton Mallet and Julian Laws (15) from Blagdon take the title roles. Beth says, “I am so excited to be playing Juliet. I can remember my family always watching me dance and sing in the living room. When I was eight years old, I was cast as Fagin for a class assembly on Oliver Twist. I was centre stage in front of my whole school and my parents, singing “Pick a Pocket or Two” and I wasn’t even nervous!  I enjoyed it so much and said to myself  – I want to be a star when I grow up!”.

Julian, who is a student at Churchill Academy has studied the play for GCSE. He said: “I became interested in theatre a few years ago thanks to my drama teacher at Churchill. I thoroughly enjoyed studying Romeo and Juliet, I think the play is a great representation of tragedy, fate and love.  My favourite quote from the play is ‘my lips two blushing pilgrims”.

Lou Merrifield and Ros-Johnson,Joint Directors of Romeo and Juliet

Lou Merrifield and Ros Johnson, joint directors of community production Romeo and Juliet

21 year old Finn Hazlewood, who plays Tybalt says, “I am really excited to be part of this production, from what I understand, Tybalt is aggressive, loyal and dangerous. Some of the elements of his character, I think I can identify with. Finn, who is the son of renowned British composer Charles Hazlewood was kicked out of drama class at school. ‘There was never a teacher who could harbour my energy but I know I have some raw attributes which need guidance so I am so excited to be working with the directors Ros Johnson and Louise Miller. They are very experienced and have worked with some incredible talent.”

Local writer Peter Kingston who plays Friar Lawrence said “I am thrilled to be in Romeo and Juliet, I only wish more of this could happen in Wells, because Wells deserves good theatre.”

Videos of interviews with members of the cast can be found here