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Mark Benton and Nicola Hughes at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Mark Benton

Casting news

REGENT’S Park Open Air Theatre has announced principal casting for Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice (June 12 to July 12) and the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (July 17 to August 23, 2014).

In Hobson’s Choice, Nadia Fall (The Doctor’s Dilemma, National Theatre) will direct Mark Benton as Henry Hobson and Jodie McNee as his daughter Maggie.

Hobson’s Choice is set in Lancashire, where bombastic boot-shop owner Henry Horatio Hobson takes umbrage to his daughter’s intention to marry long-suffering boot-maker Willie Mossop. Through her determination, they wed, set up a rival establishment and orchestrate Hobson’s fall from grace.

But it is Willie who triumphs in this unlikely love story, as newfound fortitude deals a resolution that is – Hobson’s choice.

Although Mark Benton’s stage credits include performances at the RSC, National Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse, he is perhaps best known for his television work – in Waterloo Road, Northern Lights and the 2013 season of Strictly Come Dancing.

Jodie McNee has previously appeared on stage in King Lear (Shakespeare’s Globe), Twelfth Night (Liverpool Everyman) and A Life of Galileo and Written on the Heart (RSC).

In Porgy and Bess, Timothy Sheader will direct Rufus Bonds Jr, who received a Drama Desk nomination for the original US production of Parade, as Porgy and Nicola Hughes will revisit the role of Bess following her Olivier Award nominated performance in Trevor Nunn’s 2006 production.

Phillip Boykin will reprise the role of Crown for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle nominations for the 2012 Broadway production and double Olivier Award nominee Sharon D Clarke (Ghost The Musical, We Will Rock You) will play Mariah.

A powerful story of love and betrayal, Porgy and Bess is celebrated as a landmark piece of American theatre. Porgy, a crippled beggar, is devoted to taming wild Bess and saving her from a life of ruin. However, new beginnings give way to temptation as Bess is haunted by the demons of her past.

It includes the musical numbers I Got Plenty of Nothing, It Ain’t Necessarily So, I Loves You Porgy and the poignantly beautiful Summertime.

Further casting for the Open Air season will be announced shortly.

Read more about the 2014 Open Air Season.