THE 14 people who will form the Everyman’s first rep company in 25 years were revealed today.
The actors will perform in five productions in a season running from February tp July, kicking off with Fiddler On The Roof, "inspired by the migration crisis", in February.
“With a mix of local voices, renowned performers and emerging talent… the company will connect with the city’s communities while continuing to create inspirational and ground-breaking work on stage.” said a statement.
The 14 include Patrick Brennan, renowned for his work at the National Theatre and in ensembles at the RSC, Tom Kanji, who has worked extensively at Shakespeare’s Globe, and Asha Kingsley who recently appeared in Coronation Street and The Queen and I at the Arcola.
Laura Dos Santos, Keddy Sutton, Liam Tobin, and Pauline Daniels are among the faces familiar to Liverpool theatregoers.
Those with longer memories will recognise Melanie La Barrie who appeared in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2004, one of Gemma Bodinetz’s first productions as artistic director of the Everyman and Playhouse; Richard Bremmer was last at the Everyman for Macbeth, the closing production of the old building in 2011. Dean Nolan returns after appearing at the Everyman last year as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Zelina Rebeiro will make her Liverpool stage debut in the company. Three others making their professional debuts are 19-year-old Elliott Davis who came through the theatre’s Young Everyman Playhouse auditions, Emily Hughes who applied through open auditions this summer, and 2016 RADA graduate George Caple.
Associate Director Nick Bagnall said: “Through an incredibly rigorous casting process I believe we have found a group of multi skilled and agile performers who will tell these beautiful stories with joy and an open heart. I cannot wait to see how the city responds to them and the tales we are about to tell together.”
All five productions in the season, Fiddler on the Roof, The Conquest of the South Pole, The Story Giant, The Sum and Romeo and Juliet, will be directed by Bodinetz, Bagnall and YEP Director Matt Rutter. The three-person design team of Michael Vale, Jocelyn Meall and Molly Elizabeth Lacey Davies have created all five productions to be performed in the round.
Those with very long memories will recall how the Everyman's rep companies, particularly in the 1970s and early 1980s, were the cornerstone of the theatre's success and filtered into every other area of life around the building and Hope Street.
While it might be too much to hope to replicate those dancing days and nights entirely (there were elements that simply would not be allowed today) the reintroduction of the rep will, hopefully, bring with it a welcome sense of continuity going forward.
Critics will undoubtedly say there aren't enough Liverpool actors. However with the city being a broad church of backgrounds, dialects and experiences, the Everyman should not be aiming for a 2017 version of Brookside if it is going to make a credible stab at things.
What mustn't be forgotten, on the other hand, is that this is the same politically fearless city as it was in 1975.
Elsewhere, the move will be watched by provincial theatres who for too long have relied on touring shows and co-productions - often with venues hundreds of miles away - to put the bums on seats.
The old model could well prove the new, opening up a lost path to actors everywhere.