I joined The Maskers in 1969 wanting to act. My first role was a character named Vermin, which says it all really. Over the years I gathered a fair number of vicars, stiff upper-lip Englishmen, and Regency fops to my repertoire. This will be my eighth attempt at direction since 2003 including Chekhov, Vanbrugh, Russell, Fielding, and four Shakespeares. I hope to get it right soon.
King Richard II played by William Baggs
This is the second time William has played a monarch in a Maskers production - in 2013 he played James I in Anne Boleyn. Before that he squeaked his way around the stage as Pricklemouse in Can You Hear The Music; pranced around as Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was suitably mischievous as Algernon in The Importance of Being Ernest. But Richard II offers the greatest challenge yet, and he's looking forward to the demands of returning to the throne while touring the South of England.
The Queen Isabelle played by Lydia Longman
Lydia is accustomed to working with her company, Shakespeare in a Week, and so is looking forward to having more time to get to know her character in depth! Having just come off the Nuffield Theatre in her Maskers debut as Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights, she's also looking forward to a role that doesn't regularly prompt people to sing Kate Bush at her. She's excited to be royalty and excited to tour a show - both new but welcome challenges.
Henry Bolingbroke played by Ian Wilson
Ian has been with Maskers since 2007 and has played a range of roles from the owner of a strip club in The Graduate, to a lepidopterist in Butterfly Kiss, Brendan the Barman in The Weir, and Parris in The Crucible. He has also directed for the company and had a spell as Productions Manager. This is the first Shakespeare Ian has appeared in since college and he is very much looking forward to becoming king.
John of Gaunt & Gardener played by Eric Petterson
Eric started a late acting career with the Maskers in A Christmas Charivari in 2012. His straight acting roles included the guard in Forward to the Right and Jack in The Weir. He also played James in The 13th Floor and a manic mass murderer in the latest Christmas offering. In 2014, he acted in two plays at the Chesil Theatre, and is really pleased to be back at Maskers and touring in Richard II.
Duke of York played by John Souter
John has many years' experience with Maskers, including major Shakespearean roles at the Nuffield Theatre and in outdoor productions. In the 2007 Curtain Call awards, he was voted best actor in a Shakespearean play as King Lear; this was also under the direction of Ken Hann, so John knows how Ken works and is looking forward to an intensive period of rehearsals and an exciting run of this touring production.
Duchess of York played by Hazel Burrows
Hazel has been a Masker since the 70s and has enjoyed taking part in many of the rich variety of productions: Mai in Our Lady of Sligo, Hannah in Little Women, Piggy in the Owl and the Pussycat, and last summer Lady Bracknell in the Importance of Being Earnest to mention a few. A year ago, Hazel directed the successful comedy Sitting Pretty at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton. Hazel looks forward to sharing this challenging play and taking a break away from her studio as a commercial artist.
Duke of Aumerle & Lord Ross played by Peter Ward
Peter, or Peewee as he is generally known, is a recent engineering graduate, originally from North East England. Quite how he ended up going into theatre, therefore, is a mystery to many people, including himself. Perhaps he got a bit overzealous when watching an Alan Bennett play. Whatever the reason, Peewee is now a regular performer with several companies in the local area with aspirations to go professional in the near future.
Duchess of Gloucester & Scroop played by Marie McDade
Marie’s first ever production with Maskers was touring with Mitchell’s Wings and she is looking forward to going on the road again. Apart from playing a mad fairy/clown in the Maskers' A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her previous Shakespearian outings have been in two very different productions of The Tempest – the first one, a long time ago now, touring to schools and village halls in Devon, so she is used to working with minimal sets!
Thomas Mowbray & Exton played by Stephen Ward
This is Stephen's first production with Maskers. He has had previous roles with other companies in Macbeth, The Crucible and The Dumb Waiter. His interests include running, eating, sleeping, talking and people. Stephen lives by the motto of "What happens on tour, stays on tour!"
The Earl of Northumberland played by Adam Taussik
Since Adam was the King of England a couple of years ago, he was demoted to the lower classes for a while, but hard work and dedication (and fortunate casting) has brought him back to the nobility. When not in ermine, he has another life in Student Services at the University of Southampton.
Bagot & Captain played by Adam Warren
Adam has been looking forward to taking part in another Shakespeare play since his first appearance on stage in 2004 as a servant moving the buck-basket containing Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor with SUP at the Nuffield. A couple of years ago he played Sir Robert Cecil in the Maskers production of Anne Boleyn at Hamptworth, and thought that had many Shakespearean qualities – but it is great to be involved in the real thing again!
Bushy & Lady played by Jill Desborough
Jill's first acting role for decades was as a rather dim-witted house-keeper in the 2014 Maskers Christmas Show. She enjoyed the experience enormously. Having taught Shakespeare to teenagers in the classroom for many years, she is looking forward to the challenge of working as a group to bring his words to life on the stage.
Greene & Marshall played by David Jobson
This is David’s first acting role at the Maskers, having only previously played a lurker for Anne Boleyn. He has performed in many productions during his time at Winchester University, particularly as General McKenzie in And Then There Were None, and Porthos in The Three Musketeers. He is a devoted fan of Shakespeare, having seen most of the plays at the RSC since 2006. He is thrilled to be in this production of one of his most poignant plays.
Live Music played by The Melting Pot Theatre Band (Jane Warren & Mark Littleton-Gray)
The band was originally formed to provide incidental music for a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor by the Southampton University Players in January 2005. It has had several other incarnations since then, with Southampton University Players in Lark Rise to Candleford in January 2006 and Molière’s Tartuffe in February 2007, and as the show band for the Gantry Youth Theatre’s rock pantomime Cinderella Rocks in January 2007. In 2013 Anne Boleyn was its first collaboration with the Maskers, returning, as it were, to its Tudor roots. This was followed by a contribution to the annual Christmas show the same year.
Jane Warren (vocals, recorders) has been playing and singing mostly early music around Southampton since the early eighties. She was a founder member of the Frescobaldi Consort, Quattrio and the Melting Pot Theatre Band and currently sings with Southampton Choral Society. Mark Littleton-Gray (percussion) came to the Melting Pot Theatre Band via prog, punk, avant garde and finally folk. He has previously participated in the Lark Rise and Cinderella Rocks incarnations of the Melting Pot Theatre Band.