Cast announced for return of The Wicker Husband at Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre

Casting has been announced for the return of The Wicker Husband at Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre.

The musical was forced to close prematurely on its original opening night in March 2020 due to the pandemic. It will return to the venue from 11 March, running to 26 March 2022.

Directed by Charlotte Westenra, with Book by Rhys Jennings, Music and lyrics by Darren Clark and based on an original short story by Ursula Wills, the folk-inspired new musical tells the timeless tale of the outsider.

Joseph Alessi (Moonlight and Magnolias – Nottingham Playhouse and The Lorax – Old Vic and Toronto) will play ‘Cobbler’, Gemma Sutton (Sweet Charity – The Watermill, The Girl from the North Country – Gielgud and Toronto) will play ‘Ugly Girl’, Olivier Award winner George Maguire (Sunny Afternoon – West End, 20th Century Boy – touring) as ‘Wicker Husband’ and Angela Caesar (Caroline or Change – Playhouse Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and National Theatre, Rags – Park Theatre) as ‘Cobbler’s Wife’.

Further cast includes Jonathan Charles (The Butterfly Lion – Barn Theatre Cirencester, War Horse – national tour) as ‘Innkeep’, Claire-Marie Hall (Operation Mincemeat – Southwark Playhouse, The Colours – Soho Theatre) as ‘Innkeep’s Wife’, Jack Quarton (Amélie – Criterion, Assassins – Watermill) as ‘Tailor’ and Davina Moon (The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson – Park, Privates on Parade – Noel Coward) as ‘Tailor’s Wife’ and Julian Forsyth (Local Hero – Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, Sunset Boulevard – ENO) as ‘Old Basket Maker’.

They’ll be joined by Jon Whitten as on-stage band playing the Hammered Dulcimer, Rachel Barnes also as on-stage band, and Pat Moran as onstage Musical Director.

Nisha Anil (Rhia and The Tree of Lights – Quirk Theatre and Dr. Dolittle – Illyria Theatre) and Sebastian Charles (Puppeteer for ‘Amal’ in The Walk – Good Chance and Handspring Puppet Company) and Puppeteer and cover ‘Aslan’ in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – The Bridge) will be the puppeteers of The Wicker Husband, with Tom Norman (War Horse, UK and international and Circus 1903 – Southbank) as Swing.

Darren Clark (writer, music & lyrics) said: “The Wicker Husband was one of many shows that closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and sadly many of those will never get the chance to be performed again. We feel so incredibly fortunate that the Watermill Theatre continues to put its faith in our story and for its continued perseverance and commitment to supporting quality work by new British writers in remounting the show this coming March.

“When we go into rehearsal, it will be nearly 10 years since we originally began working on this beautiful, ambitious show and we simply cannot wait to share it with you at the stunning Watermill with this extraordinary cast.”

Paul Hart, Artistic Director, added: “It’s been a long road since The Wicker Husband, a piece that is so perfect for The Watermill’s stage, opened and was forced to almost immediately close, in March 2020. With its beautiful score, and incredible puppets, I can’t wait to welcome back the whole team for this remarkable show.”

The show will feature handcrafted wicker puppets created by Puppetry designer and director Finn Caldwell whose credits include War Horse (West End & International), Life of Pi (Sheffield Crucible) and The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic & West End), with highly skilled puppeteers from Handspring, War Horse and Good Chance, bringing The Wicker Husband to life.

In a superficial world, where beauty is only skin-deep, meet the so-called ‘Ugly Girl’.

Ostracised by the shallow townsfolk because she doesn’t fit in, the Ugly Girl becomes the envy of her neighbours when the mysterious Old Basketmaker makes her a strong and loving husband woven from living wicker. As bitter rivalry and jealousy threaten to tear the community apart, the townsfolk embark on a cruel and destructive plan. Will the Ugly Girl’s happiness be ruined forever?

The Wicker Husband will have set design by Anna Kelsey, choreography by Steven Harris, lighting design by Hartley T A Kemp, sound design by Ella Wahlström, with Gregory Clarke as Associate Sound Designer. Musical direction is by Pat Moran, with Gareth Aled as Associate Puppetry Director.

The Stage Management team consists of Emily Stedman as CSM, Alex Berridge-Schuter as DSM, Caitlin Ravenscroft and Eleanor Walton as ASMs.

For tickets and more information, visit

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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