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Behind the scenes at The Dukes play in the park

Members of The Dukes community company.
Members of The Dukes community company.
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It’s now less than a two weeks before rehearsals begin for Lancaster’s biggest theatrical event of the summer – The Three Musketeers.

The cast arrives on June 5 and although most of them have appeared at The Dukes before, none have ventured outside with the Lancaster theatre. Among the familiar faces returning to the city to act in Williamson Park is Delme Thomas who was a hit as the Genie in The Dukes Christmas production of Aladdin. He will play King Louis and Buckingham this summer.

Another veteran of past Dukes festive productions is Nisa Cole who appeared in Treasure Island in 2012, just months after playing Jennet Preston in the revival of Sabbat to mark the 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witches trial. She will play Constance in The Three Musketeers. They will be joined by Helen Katamba who takes the roles of Porthos and Queen Anne. A Lancaster-based actor, she was most recently seen at The Dukes in April in One Book, One Pen. It’s 12 years since Christopher Bianchi appeared in Dukes homegrown productions – The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Charlotte’s Web – though he did tour to the theatre in Waiting For Godot last year. He will play Cardinal Richelieu and Planchet. Making their Dukes debuts will be Lucy Parkinson who will play D’Artagnan, Milton Lopes(Athos) and Rebecca Banatvala(Aramis and Milady).

The professional cast will begin rehearsals indoors but soon will be spotted in the park as they get to know the environment which will be their stage from July 3-August 18. However, rehearsals have already begun for the community company which supports the cast by playing various roles.

In past park shows, the community company has been made up entirely of young people from The Dukes youth theatre but this year the opportunity has been opened up to people of all ages.

Many of those taking part caught the acting bug when they appeared in Blackout, The Dukes community play about the impact of Storm Desmond, last autumn.

If you’d like to play your part in what is the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre season, The Dukes is hiring stewards. Applicants must be available from June 30-August 18 and there’ll be a training day on June 23. Anyone interested should contact Karl Roe on kroe@dukes-lancaster.org by May 25.

The Three Musketeers, which is recommended for anyone aged 5+, opens on July 3 and runs until August 18. For tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.