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The Importance of Being Earnest Kerry Ellis will star as Gwendolen, her first non-singing role, in the 2018 UK tour of Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford, Courtyard Theatre Hereford, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Belfast Grand Opera House, Theatre Royal Bath and Manchester Opera House. Hannah Louise Howell will play Gwendolen at all other venues. They will be joined by Geoff Aymer, Louise Coulthard, Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke and Simon Shackleton, playing Chasuble, Cecily, Algernon, Jack and Lane/Merriman respectively.

They join the previously announced Gwen Taylor as Lady Bracknell and Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism. The tour will begin on24 January at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, ending on 28 April in Eastbourne.

Renowned theatre star and recording artist, Kerry Ellis is best known for originating the role of Meat, in Queen’s We Will Rock You and was the first British actress to play Elphaba in Wicked, for which Kerry won the 2008 What’s on Stage Award for ‘Best Takeover in a Role’. She then played the role at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway for six months, where she won the Audience Award for ‘Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance’. Her other West End theatre work includes Sara in Murder Ballad at The Arts Theatre, Nancy in Oliver!, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Fantine in Les Misérables and she took over from Nicole Scherzinger in the role of Grizabella in Cats. Kerry has achieved chart-topping success as a recording artist, releasing four albums and touring the UK and Europe with Brian May of Queen.

Hannah Louise Howell’s theatre credits includeThe Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Alastair Whatley earlier this year at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Engineer's Blue (Brass Works Theatre, Bristol), Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Ludlow Assembly Rooms), Mermaid  (Swan Theatre, Worcester),Much Ado About Nothing (The Regal, Tenbury Wells) andGhosts(Courtyard Theatre).

Geoff Aymer most recently appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Young Vic. His other theatre credits include To Kill A Mockingbird (Regents Park Open Air, National Tour, Barbican),The Lightning Child and MacBeth (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Driving Miss Daisy (The Canal Cafe and Frinton Summer Theatre). Geoff’s Television credits include Guerilla (Sky Atlantic and Showtime) and Eastenders (BBC 1).

Louise Coulthard won the Lustrum Award at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe for her play,Cockamamy. Her theatre credits includeHouse and Garden (The Watermill Theatre), The Late Wedding (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Dreams of Home (Theatre Royal Stratford East).

Thomas Howes is best known for playing William Mason in ITV’s Downton Abbey. He has since appeared as Yashvin in the 2012 film adaptation of Anna Karenina and played Winston Churchill in Murdoch Mysteries (ITV). His theatre credits include Ratty in The Wind in the Willows: The Musical (UK Tour), The Mousetrap (Original UK Tour), The Winslow Boy  (Theatre Royal Bath) and The History Boys (National Theatre/ West End).

Peter Sandys-Clarke’s theatre credits include Ronald Storrs in Ross (Chichester Festival Theatre), Peter Gilbert in The Browning Version (Theatre Royal Bath and tour), Gerald in When We Are Married (Garrick Theatre), Jerry in A Daughter’s a Daughter (Trafalgar Studios), Withers in The Letter (Wyndham’s Theatre and tour) and Raleigh in Journey’s End (Playhouse Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre). His TV work includes The Royals (E!), The Crown (Netflix) and Indian Summers (Channel 4).

Simon Shackleton most recently played Professor Christopher Riley in the UK tour of Shadowlands, directed by Alastair Whatley. His other theatre credits include Journey's End (West End and UK tour), An Ideal Husband (Northampton Repertory Theatre), As You Like It (Bridewell Theatre), Blithe Spirit (Chichester Festival Theatre). Simon has appeared inEastEnders (BBC),Silk (BBC),The Queen (Blast Films),Lewis (ITV) andTorchwood (BBC).

Oscar Wilde’s greatly admired and much loved comedy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST follows Jack Worthing’s endeavours to marry Algernon’s cousin, the beautiful Gwendolen. But first he must convince the fearsome Lady Bracknell of his respectability. Wilde’s classic play looks at the clash of town and country in a story of romance, identity, perambulators and capacious handbags.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST will be directed by The Original Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Alastair Whatley, with set and costume designs by Gabriella Slade, sound and music by Giles Thomas and lighting by Alan Valentine. The UK tour is produced by Tom Hackney for The Original Theatre Company.