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More than 5,000 actors have applied for roles in this year’s Stafford Shakespeare production, the biggest response since the company’s first play in 1991.

Auditions were taking place in London over the past week after 14 roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream were advertised in theatre press and stage directories.

The production has a full professional cast of 17, with three of the roles already allocated to Australian actor Jonathan Hyde (Titanic, Jumanji) who will play Nick Bottom, Broadway star Kerry Ellis (Wicked, Les Miserables) as Titania and Milly Zero (All at Sea, EastEnders) who will play Hermia.

Producer Mike Groves said: "We were expecting around 1,500 applications for roles in the Stafford Shakespeare production, but we ended up with 5,132. The response was incredible and it just goes to show how highly regarded these plays are on a national level.

Everyone knows that the production values will be spot on and standards will be incredibly high.

We have whittled it down to 150 auditionees, with some fairly well-known names in among them, so it’s very exciting to be down in London seeing who could be in our cast. We actually had to extend our stay because there were so many people we wanted to see."

As well as the principal cast members, the production team are planning one or two big name surprises for the show, which runs at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre from 23 June - 9 July.

Marketing manager Keith Harrison said: "I don’t think the Gatehouse will ever have seen a show like it and there’s a real buzz about the place as the opening night draws nearer."

More than 2,000 tickets have already been sold and the producers have also announced a spin-off production called The Fairy Academy for younger theatre-goers.

Mike Groves explained: "It’s linked to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is a great introduction to the theatre for children aged 5-9. The youngsters join in and complete various tasks before a full graduation ceremony where they receive their fairy wings, which they get to keep, of course.

It will all be staged in a magical setting with a beautiful sound and light show so we are really excited to be welcoming some younger theatre-goers alongside our main production."

For further information visit gatehousetheatre.co.uk.