Regent's Park Open Air Theatre announces lead cast

Rufus Bonds Jr, Sharon D Clarke and Mark Benton

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has announced the lead cast for two of its summer 2014 productions.

Mark Benton will lead the company of Hobson's Choice in the role of Henry Hobson. He will be joined by Jodie McNee in the role of his daughter Maggie.

Rufus Bonds Jr and Nicola Hughes will play the title roles in Porgy and Bess, alongside Sharon D Clarke as Mariah and Phillip Boykin as Crown, for which he was nominated for the 2012 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Hobson's Choice opens at the Open Air Theatre on 17 June 2014, following previews from 12 June. Directed by Nadia Fall, this new production of Harold Brighouse's 1916 play runs until 12 July 2014.

Mark Benton is a Northern actor who is best known for his television roles in 'Waterloo Road', 'Northern Lights' and 'Strictly Come Dancing'. He recently played the role of Edna Turnblad in the 2013 UK tour of 'Hairspray'. Jodie McNee has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe and was recently seen in the West End in 'Written on the Heart'.

Porgy and Bess opens at the Open Air Theatre on 28 July 2014, following previews from 17 July, and runs until 23 August 2014. The production is directed by Artistic Director of the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Tim Sheader and features an adapted score by Diedre L.Murray, based on the Gershwin original.

Rufus Bonds Jr is an American actor who has starred in productions of 'The Color Purple' and 'The Lion King' as well as the original Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown's 'Parade'. Nicola Hughes will revisit the role of Bess which she originally played in Trevor Nunn's 2006 production at the Savoy Theatre, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. She was most recently featured in the Menier Chocolate Factory's production of 'The Color Purple'.

Phillip Boykin reprises his Tony nominated performance of Crown, which he originally played in the 2012 Broadway production of 'Porgy and Bess' which went on to win the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. They are joined by Sharon D Clarke whose West End credits include 'Ghost' at the Piccadilly Theatre and the original cast of 'We Will Rock You'.

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