Gillian Elisa joins the cast of epic Welsh language musical ‘BRANWEN: DADENI’

Co-producers Wales Millennium Centre and Frân Wen have announced Gillian Elisa has joined the cast of the new epic Welsh language dramatic musical, BRANWEN: DADENI, as rehearsals begin in Cardiff.

A contemporary reimagining of the legendary yet tragic tale of Branwen, from the ancient mythical tales of the Mabinogion, BRANWEN: DADENI opens at Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre from 8 to 11 November 2023, before travelling to Aberystwyth Arts Centre from 15 to 17 November and ending at Pontio Arts Centre, Bangor from 22 to 25 November.

Gillian Elisa will play the role of Ena, a figure who provides counsel to Matholwch, King of Ireland.

An Octet of singers, who will form part of the musical fabric of the show, has also been unveiled. Joining the Octet are Lisa Angharad, Huw Euron, Steffan Hughes, Miriam Isaac, Elan Meirion, Niamh Moulton, Cedron Sion and Adam Vaughan. Two young actors from Cardiff have also been cast to share a significant role as Gwern/Plentyn. Mali Grooms and Tegwen Velios will each perform in all three tour venues, making their professional stage debuts.

They all join a talented cast led by award-winning musician and performer Mared Williams in the title role of Branwen. Caitlin Drake (Miss Littlewood, RSC & Cunard; Pavilion, Theatr Clwyd) will play Branwen’s sister Efnisien, while Cardiff’s Rithvik Andugula (professional debut) will play Matholwch – brushing up on his Welsh having not used it since school. Tomos Eames (BBC’s Shakespeare and Hathaway Private Investigators; S4C’s Gwaith/Cartref) will play Bendigeidfran – Branwen’s brother and King of Cedyrn – while Ioan Hefin (Netflix’s Apostle; BBC’s Steeltown Murders) will play Picell – a mysterious new presence in the story.

A shattered kingdom. A corrupt monarchy. A new generation desperate for change. Branwen: Dadeni is an epic Welsh language musical which brings one of our most well-known legends into the contemporary world.

After a bloody civil war, the Llŷr family control Cedyrn. Branwen, the charismatic young princess who has won the people’s hearts, is eager to move her country forward, but her brother, the king, won’t listen.

During an unexpected visit by the King of Ireland, she sees her opportunity: escape to a progressive and prosperous country where her voice will count and she’ll have the power to change things. But, as her star rises, every bargain, betrayal and body leads her deeper into the darkness, until, on the brink of ruin, the price becomes clear.

What would you sacrifice to create a just world? 

BRANWEN: DADENI is written by Hanna Jarman, Elgan Rhys and Seiriol Davies, with lyrics and music by Seiriol Davies, and is directed by Frân Wen’s Artistic Director, Gethin Evans.

The creative team includes Geraint Owen (Musical Director & Music Supervisor), Owain Gruffudd Roberts (Orchestrator), Elin Steele (Set and Costume Designer), Bretta Gerecke (Lighting Designer), Sebastian Frost (Sound Designer), Owain Gwynn and Nia Lynn (Movement Co-Directors), Llinos Griffiths (Costume Supervisor), Carys Jones (Assistant Director), Gwenno Morgan (Assistant Musical Director) and Hannah Marie Williams (Casting Director).

BRANWEN: DADENI is the latest in a run of Wales Millennium Centre Productions that nurture writers and creative talent in and from Wales.

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