EXCLUSIVE: Toheeb Jimoh, who plays AFC Richmond’s goal-scoring Sam Obisanya on Ted Lasso will tackle rhyming couplets when he and Red Rose actress Isis Hainsworth play William Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in what’s expected to be a sizzler of a Romeo and Juliet production in London this summer.
The scorching heat comes from its director Rebecca Frecknall, associate director of north London’s Almeida Theatre. She lit up the West End with an acclaimed 2021 revival of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret at the Playhouse Theatre, now transformed into the Kit Kat Club.
Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse) and Jessie Buckley (Women Talking) both won Olivier Awards for their performances as the emcee and Sally Bowles, respectively.
Those parts now are being played by John McCrea (Cruella) and Aimee Lou Wood (Living, Sex Education).
It doesn’t end there.
Frecknall also staged the extraordinary reimagining of Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire with Best Actor Oscar nominee Paul Mescal (Aftersun), tremendous as Stanley Kowalsaki.
It played a sold-out run at the Almeida and now has transferred to the Phoenix Theatre, where previews start Monday. It also stars an incandescent Patsy Ferran (Life After Life) as Blanche DuBois and Anjana Vasan (We Are Lady Parts) as Stella.
Romeo and Juliet also will run at the Almeida. Performances there run June 6-July 29.
When I saw Jimoh in Los Angeles last week, at the ace party AppleTV+ hosted to celebrate Season 3 of Ted Lasso, he expressed excitement about his next gig. However, he was forbidden from telling me what he’d be doing — though I had an inkling.
So I heard that Frecknall cast Jimoh a few months ago. The task after that was to find an actress to play Juliet.
Hainsworth officially was signed Wednesday night. Scottish-born Hainsworth is in the chilling BBC Three horror drama Red Rose, now streaming on BBCiPlayer and on Netflix. She also starred in Netflix film Metal Lords.
Her theater work includes Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in the West End, and she played Hermia in a lively, immersive interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at London’s Bridge Theatre.
The Almeida has confirmed both stars to Breaking Baz, and I’ve seen the Almeida’s tag line for the play.
“Verona is a powderkeg of blood-lust rage, with death treats proudly shouted in the streets. As two families wage war, will a young couple become the next sacrifice of this brutal feud?”
The two warring households of Verona are Romeo’s kin, the House of Montague, and Juliet’s family, the House of Capulet.
But you knew that, right? Not sure how much Shakespeare is taught in regular schools these days, but Romeo and Juliet was the first Shakespeare I essayed. I played stroppy Tybalt. Not my finest moment on the boards.
Other roles for the Almeida’s production of Romeo and Juliet are still being cast.
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