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The Royal Shakespeare Company has today announced further casting for The Magician’s Elephant, a new musical by Nancy Harris (book/lyrics) and Marc Teitler (music/lyrics) based on the novel by prize-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo which will make its world stage premiere in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 14 October 2021 – 1 January 2022.

Actor, writer, storyteller Renu Arora will play the role of Madame LaVaughn, who tragically finds her herself paralyzed after an elephant – conjured by The Magician of the play’s title – crashes through the roof of an opera house, crushing her legs in the process.

Renu has worked extensively in the arts as an actor, singer, composer, director and writer for over 16 years. Her writing credits include Women of Hope; a verbatim music-theatre show funded by Arts Council (and supported by Tamasha, Amnesty and Rich Mix) exploring domestic violence in minority communities and The Crossing, a devised show about her grandmother’s experiences of the Partition of India and her co-writers’ family’s experience of the Vietnam War, supported by Arts Council England (The London Hub Mosaic Bursary), Tamasha and Rich Mix.

As an actor and musician, Renu has performed at theatres including the New Vic Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre and Theatre Royal Stratford East. As a director, Renu’s work includes performances at Arcola Theatre, Soho Theatre, Tamasha, Tara Arts, Riverside Studios, Oval House and The Kings Head Theatre. As a composer, Renu wrote and recorded the vocal soundtrack for Rani Moorthy’s ‘Who’s Sari Now’ at Leicester Curve and Stratford East.

After a life changing accident and near-death experience in 2017, Renu acquired a disability, changing the way she works as an artist. Her lockdown-inspired audio work reflecting on the parallels of her accident and the pandemic was broadcast by BBC Sounds. Renu’s new 12-part arts podcast; The Burgundy Book, in which she reflects upon her life-changing experience, will be available in Spring 2022 and is funded by Arts Council England (with additional support from Graeae, The Space, and Disability Arts Online).

As a public speaker, Renu talks openly about her accident, near-death experience and artistic practice both in UK and overseas and is scheduled to take part in the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS) virtual conference in September 2021.

She will be joined by Amy Booth-Steel in the role of Narrator. Amy is perhaps best known to musical theatre audiences for her roles in Heathers, Sister Act and The Sound of Music in the West End, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Leicester Curve); Betty Blue Eyes (Mercury and West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Watermill Theatre).

Other theatre credits include Dick Whittington, A Pacificist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, The Light Princess, One Man, Two Guvnors (Tour) and She Stoops to Conquer Other (National Theatre), #HONESTAMY at the Pleasance; As You Like It (Regent’s Park) The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatr Clwyd); Anita and Me (Birmingham Rep and Theatre Royal Stratford East); Ex (Soho Theatre) Nicked (HighTide) and Swallows and Amazons (Bristol Old Vic).

Returning to the RSC this Christmas is Miriam Nyarko who will play Adele following her appearance as Lisa James in the 2019 RSC musical adaptation of The Boy in the Dress based on the novel by David Walliams. Miriam also played Lavender in the West End production of Matilda the Musical, also for the RSC. Other theatre credits include Our Town (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal), The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre).

Miriam is perhaps best known to TV audiences for playing Miri in the popular CBBC series Almost Never (Series 1-3). Other television credits include The Voice Kids, Blue Peter and Saturday Mash Up.

Also confirmed are Lauren Jones (Lisette) and Chrystine Symone (Lamplighter)

They join the previously announced cast which includes; Sharif Afifi (Milliner), Marc Antolin (Leo Matienne), Alison Arnopp (Baker), Hannah Brown (Swing), Keisha Amponsa Banson (Gloria Matienne), Michael Carolan (Swing), Lucca Chadwick-Patel (Fishmonger), Stephen John Davis (Doctor), Zoe Halliday (The Elephant), Sam Harrison (Count Quintet), Forbes Masson (Police Chief), Wela Mbusi (The Elephant), Mark Meadows (Vilna Lutz), Suzanne Nixon (The Elephant), Alastair Parker (Magician), Wendy Somerville (Mrs Griswald) Summer Strallen (Countess Quintet) and Mandi Symonds (Sister Marie) and Jack Wolfe (Peter Duchene).

The Magician’s Elephant was originally due to run from October 2020 – January 2021 but was postponed due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, which included the temporary cancellation of all RSC performances, events and other activities.

The production will mark the re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – which marks its 60th anniversary in 2021 - and the return of audiences to indoor performances at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time since March 2020.

The Magician’s Elephant tells the story of orphan Peter Augustus Duchene, who lives a frugal life in the lonely town of Baltese. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky. The animal’s appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever. Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

This new adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s heart-breaking and darkly magical children’s book by Nancy Harris (book/lyrics) and Marc Teitler (music/lyrics) will be directed by Sarah Tipple, Associate Director to Gregory Doran on The Boy in the Dress. The production will feature design by Colin Richmond whose previous RSC credits include Wendy and Peter Pan and Vice Versa. Lighting is by Oliver Fenwick, Music Supervision and Musical Direction by Tom Brady, Orchestrations by Sarah Travis and Marc Teitler, vocal arrangements by Tom Brady and Marc Teitler, sound by Paul Groothuis andmovement by Francesca Jaynes. Dramaturgy is by Réjane Collard-WalkerPuppetry direction is by Mervyn Millarwith puppetry design byMervyn MillarandTracy Waller.The Magic Consultant is John Bulleid whose previous RSC credits include #WeAreArrested, and video is by Douglas O’Connell.

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For further information, please contact Kate Evans 01789 412622 or 07920244434

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Kate DiCamillo’s

The Magician’s Elephant

A new musical by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler

Book and Lyrics by Nancy Harris

Music and Lyrics by Marc Teitler

Thurs 14 Oct 2021 – Sat 1 Jan 2022

Press performance: Tues 26 Oct, 7pm

“Magic is always impossible. That’s what makes it magic.”

Baltese is a town where nothing extraordinary ever happens. Recovering from a recent war, it is a lonely place, where young Peter lives a frugal life. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky, whose appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever. Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

This brand-new musical for all the family reminds us that even the impossible can be possible when we open our eyes and hearts to those around us

BOOKING INFORMATION: 01789 331111 or


Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

The work of the RSC is supported by the Culture Recovery Fund

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

The Magician's Elephant is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award

The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by The Drue and H.J. Heinz II Charitable Trust


The Royal Shakespeare Company creates world class theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world, performing plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning an exceptionally wide range of original work from contemporary writers.  Our purpose is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, and we do that by unlocking the power of his plays and of live performance, throughout the UK and across the world.

We believe everybody’s life is enriched by culture and creativity.  We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future.  Our transformative Learning Programmes reach over half a million young people and adults each year, and through our Placemaking and Public Programme we create projects with and for communities who have not historically engaged with our work.  We are a leader in creative immersive technologies and digital development. 

We have a proud record of innovation, diversity and excellence on stage and are determined to grasp the opportunity to become an even more inclusive, progressive, relevant and ambitious organisation. 

We recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice, making a commitment to continually reduce our carbon footprint.

Registered charity no. 212481

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