This month we checked in with Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark about their 2018 Festival show The Wicker Husband. The show is about to have its world premiere at The Watermill Theatre.
What was the post-Festival response to The Wicker Husband like after the 2018 Festival?
The response to The Wicker Husband after the Festival in 2018 was overwhelming. The story of a young woman falling slowly in love with a man made of wood seemed to capture people’s hearts and imagination. We ended our NAMT Festival presentation with the burning of her husband (which serves as the end of act one in the full story) so people were keen to know what happened next! Did presenting The Wicker Husband at the Festival help you discover anything new about the show? What work have you done on the show since then?
Working with a hugely talented cast including Kerstin Anderson, Jordan Donica and Clifton Davis was a delight, and the experience we had in New York allayed any fears we had about American actors taking on such a uniquely British story.
The process of creating a 45-minute version of act one for the presentation also served as a lesson in the art of succinctness. It has been hugely rewarding when looking at what else needed cutting in the rest of the show.
The Wicker Husband is about to have its world premiere with The Watermill Theatre in Newbury, England. What have you been doing to prepare for the production, and what has your partnership with Watermill looked like?
The last few months in the lead up to the premiere here at The Watermill have been positively joyous. We’ve been busy assembling an exquisite cast of actors, musicians and puppeteers, and our wider creative team, led by the incredible Charlotte Westenra (who also directed our Festival presentation), has brought much creativity and imagination to the table.
How is the physical world of the musical going to be created, and what kind of puppets can audiences expect to see?
Working with the UK’s leading puppetry director Finn Caldwell (War Horse, Angels in America, The Lorax, Life of Pi) has been a particular highlight in bringing the Wicker Husband and our menagerie of other creatures to life! From the wicker dog (named Basket) to the monstrous Lady Blackthorn, our audiences are in for a treat.
What do you hope is next for the show, and how can NAMT members who are interested in its future development get involved now?
Our run at The Watermill is the first time audiences will get to experience the show in full. Watermill productions have a long history of touring the UK and internationally and of transferring to London and the West End. Artistic Director Paul Hart is open to speaking to any NAMT members wishing to be a part of that journey.
Why should people plan a visit to the UK to check out the world premiere?
England is indeed a long way to go for a show. But The Wicker Husband isn’t just any show. It’s an adventure deep into the darkest swamp, full of heart and woven with magic. We promise you will be enchanted.
For more information about The Wicker Husband, and to purchase tickets to the upcoming production, please visit The Watermill Theatre’s website.