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Thousands set to attend Stafford’s 30th anniversary Shakespeare production of Romeo + Juliet

More than 10,000 people are set to attend Stafford’s 30th anniversary Shakespeare production of Romeo + Juliet starting later this week.

ROMEO + JULIET starts on Friday and runs until July 9
ROMEO + JULIET starts on Friday and runs until July 9

The open-air event in the shadow of the town’s Norman castle is one of the biggest open air Shakespeare events in Europe, with around 250,000 visitors since first staging Henry V in 1991.

The play was originally scheduled for summer 2020, but was delayed for two years by the Covid pandemic.

Among the stars is Staffordshire actor Gill Jordan, better known as ‘lazy cow’ Doreen Tipton, who plays The Nurse in the famous love story.

She said: "I can’t wait to get started. It’s the perfect role for me.

"I got to a point with Doreen where I’d done almost 10 years and I was starting to think ‘where are we going with it?’.

ROMEO + JULIET starts on Friday and runs until July 9

"So it’s great to be back in mainstream acting for a while and I’m loving the classical work. Rest assured though, Doreen will be back for panto season!"

Gill has also been working on a new Netflix show, called Sandman, starring Charles Dance and Stephen Fry.

She said: ‘To be doing live theatre in Romeo + Juliet is amazing.

"The Sandman was all studio work and special effects. But to be doing these two different projects in the same year is great and I’m very excited by them both. If you’re not excited, it’s time to move on."

Romeo + Juliet starts on Friday and runs until July 9.

ROMEO + JULIET starts on Friday and runs until July 9

It stars Madeleine Leslay (from BBC Radio’s The Archers) as Juliet, Tom Lane as Romeo and Stafford’s own Tom Vaughan as Tybalt.

Director Tim Ford said: "Rehearsals have been going incredibly well and I couldn’t be happier with the cast.

"We’ve had Dr Ian Stapleton in as Fight Director and he’s been amazing. He has a PhD in Elizabethan Swordplay so the action is not only dramatic, but also very authentic, too.

"We move from The Gatehouse Theatre rehearsal stage to the castle next week and we can’t wait to get on the actual stage, which is stunning, especially with the castle as a backdrop."

A huge 25-metre set has been built for the event, along with two grandstands, offering improved sightlines and bringing the audience closer to the action than ever.

Bar and catering services are being provided by Boutique Events, the outdoor events arm of The Post House Bar and Grill in Stafford and the site has a new layout, with improved seating and toilet facilities.

Tickets are available from gatehousetheatre.co.uk or the Gatehouse box office in person, or 01785 619080.

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