Comedians Tim Minchin, Al Murray, Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar are set to join David Tennant for a TV celebration of Shakespeare’s work.
The former Doctor Who star will host Shakespeare Live! from the RSC Theatre in Stratford on 23rd April for the BBC, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.
The other announcements include RSC performers Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Nixon, Alexandra Gilbreath (Monarch of the Glen), and Noma Dumezweni, who was also recently cast as Hermione in the new Harry Potter stage production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Rufus Wainwright (who has previously set Shakespeare sonnets to music), The Royal Ballet and The Orchestra of the Swan are the new musical additions to the billing.
The names will make up part of an already formidable ensemble, which boasts Dame Judi Dench (also starring in the new series of The Hollow Crown), Sir Ian McKellen, Joseph Fiennes, The English National Opera, The Birmingham Royal Ballet, tenor singer Ian Bostridge and rapper Akala, who is also head of the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company.
David Tennant, who has starred as Hamlet in the BBC’s 2009 production, will front the whole event. “It’s a variety bill, really,” he said. “Obviously the plays are a huge part of that. We will have some of the greatest classical actors around. But we have the other cultural arms he inspired, opera, ballet, hip-hop.”
Gregory Doran, artistic director of The Royal Shakespeare Company, added, “Shakespeare is for everyone so we want as many people as possible to have a chance to experience his work this year. We are thrilled to collaborate with the BBC in a fantastic initiative to bring Shakespeare’s legacy to audiences all over the UK, including work direct from the RSC’s theatres in his home town.”