News: Cassie and the Lights reveals its cast

3 Hearts Canvas and Patch of Blue in association with Southwark Playhouse and Verse Unbound have announced casting for Cassie and the Lights that plays Southwark Playhouse Borough this spring. Alex Howarth directs Alex Brain (Cassie), Helen Chong (Tin), Emily McGlynn (Kit), and Martha Walker (Swing), with voiceovers by Bethany Antonia (Jasmine), Louisa Harland (Alice), Oli Higginson (Mark) Wendi Peters (Teacher) and John Thomson (Lawyer).

Following critically acclaimed runs in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this enchanting play created and directed by Alex Howarth features live music and is based on real-life events and interviews with children in care. Original Scenic Design by Alex Howarth, Set and Costume Design by Ruth Badila, and Composition by Imogen Mason and Ellie Mason.

Cassie and the Lights opens at Southwark Playhouse Borough, in the Little Auditorium, on 5 April, with previews from 3 April and runs until 20 April 2024.

Can kids be parents?

When Cassie’s mother disappears, the teenager wants to care for her sisters on her own. Is she the right person to be a parent now, or should she let foster parents adopt her sisters and create a new family?

Based on real-life events and interviews with children in care and featuring live music, this play celebrates the resilience of teenagers. Cassie and the Lights is a tender and playful examination of what makes a family and what holds it together.

Alex Brain plays Cassie. Their theatre credits include The Railway Children (York Theatre Royal), Back to Blackbrick (Arts Theatre, UK tour), When We Ran (The Pleasance Edinburgh), The Tortoise and The Hare (UK tour), We Live By The Sea (59E59 Theatres New York, Arts Theatre, SoHo Playhouse New York, Adelaide Festival Australia, China National Tour, Greenwich Theatre, Pleasance Edinburgh), and The Gods The Gods The Gods (Australia and New Zealand Tour). Their television credits include Primeval and Enid.

Helen Chong plays Tin. Her previous theatre credits include the Off-Broadway production of Cassie and the Lights (VAULT Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and 59E59, New York), A.L.I.C.E. in Wanderlust (Lawrence Batley Theatre), Four Models in Bright Hats Think About the Future (Live Theatre), and Jack and the Beanstalk (Applecart Arts). Her television credits include The Dumping Ground, and The Hermit.

Emily McGlynn plays Kit. Her previous theatre credits include the Off-Broadway production of Cassie and the Lights (Vault Festival, London, Adelaide Fringe Festival and 59E59, New York), The Fall (Old Red Lion Theatre), Long Joan Silver (Hope St Theatre), Oh! You Pretty Things (Southwark Playhouse), Aladdin (Palace Theatre), Jose (Liverpool Fringe), and Piramania! The Swashbuckling Pirate Musical (Upstairs at the Gatehouse and Edinburgh Festival Fringe).

Martha Walker makes her professional stage debut.

Bethany Antonia plays Jasmine. Her previous television credits include House of the Dragon, Doctor Who, Nolly, LAVAStay Close, and Get Even; and for film The Velveteen Rabbit, Sense and Sensibility and Pin Cushion.

Louisa Harland plays Alice. Her previous theatre credits include Cotton Fingers (National Theatre Wales), GlassKillBluebeard, Imp (Royal Court), Dancing at Lughnasa (National Theatre), and Ulster American (Riverside Studios). Her television credits include Love/Hate, The Deceived, Harley and the Davidsons, Big Boys, and Derry Girls; and for film Lost in London, Boys from County Hell, and  Joy. Her upcoming credits include Renegade Nell and Long Days Journey into Night.

Oli Higginson plays Mark. His previous theatre credits include Othello, Julius Ceasar (Shakespeare’s Globe), Smoke, The Last Five Years (Southwark Playhouse Borough), Lava (Soho Theatre), A Christmas Carol (The Old Vic), The Last Five Years, Maggie and Ted (Garrick Theatre), The Haystack (Hampstead Theatre), Napoleon Blown Apart (Arcola Theatre), and The Assassination of Marcus Garvey (Theatre 503). His television credits include Julia, The Chelsea Detective, Bridgerton, This England, The Pursuit of Love and Cursed. He is also an emerging writer, currently developing his debut play alongside the Orange Tree Theatre as part of the Orange Tree’s Writers Collective.

Wendi Peters plays Mrs Jacobson. Peters has performed in her one-woman show Let Me Sing And I’m Happy (St James Theatre), and mostrecently Wendi Peters: Live at Zédel (The Crazy Coqs). Her theatre credits include You Are Here (Southwark Playhouse), Big! The Musical (Dominion Theatre), White Christmas (Dominion Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Lowry, Manchester), The Clockmaker’s Daughter, State Fair (Cadogan Hall), Is There Anybody There? (New Adelphi Theatre, Manchester), Hatched ‘n’ Dispatched (Park Theatre), Our House 10th Anniversary Concert (Savoy Theatre), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Arts Theatre), April in Paris (Hull Truck, UK tour), Grumpy Old Women Live 2 – Chin up Britain (UK tour, Novello Theatre), The Vagina Monologues (Tivoli Theatre, Dublin), Children Will Listen – celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday (Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Follies in Concert (London Palladium). Her television credits include Doctors (as series regular Nina Balsara), Coronation Street (as series regular Cilla Battersby Brown), Celebrity Sewing Bee for Children in Need,  Keep it in the Family, Adrenaline Junkie with Jack Osbourne, Hetty Feather, Phoenix Rise, Lynda Babbage in Midsomer Murders, Hacker Time, Sadie J, Crime Stories, Bad Girls, Out of the Blue and Cardiac Arrest; and for film Gyppo, Coronation St- Out of Africa and In Love and War.

John Thomson plays Lawyer. He is a comedian and actor best known for his roles in The Fast ShowMen Behaving Badly, Spitting Image, Cold FeetThe Brothers Grimsby, and Coronation Street (as series regular Jesse Chadwick); and for film 24 Hour Party People alongside Steve Coogan. This year he will be starring as Detective Warren Bull in BBC’s Silent Witness

Alex Howarth is a writer, director and designer. He was named one of ‘Ten Stage Sensations to Watch Out For in 2023’ by The Guardian.  With a background of working in care, Howarth is passionate about amplifying under-represented and northern voices. His play Cassie and the Lights is based on a true story and interviews with children in the care system. Nominated for the BBC Writer’s Room Popcorn Award and the SitUp Award for social change, it ran at 59E59 Theaters, Off Broadway New York in 2023. A former drama therapist for the charity Sense, he has worked extensively with disabled artists, and recently co-created one man show Strictly Lawrie with disabled artist Lawrie Morris. His play about a girl with autism, We Live By the Sea, received Critic’s Pick and Top Theatre of the Year in The New York Times, won the Best Theatre Award and the Critic’s Choice Award at Adelaide Festival, the Grahame F. Smith Peace Foundation Award for promoting human rights through theatre, and was nominated for a Fringe First and the Off West End Awards for Best Production and Best Ensemble. He was the assistant director on La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and regularly directs at drama schools including Italia Conti, Central School of Speech and Drama, Mountview Theatre School, and Chichester Conservatoire. He adapted and directed the world stage premiere of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, alongside the film’s writer and director, Oscar nominee Peter Hedges. He is the Artistic Director of multi-award-winning Patch of Blue, who create original theatre pieces with live music for festivals and touring.

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