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Our Team


Management Team

Creative Team

Adam Nichols

Artistic Director and Founder

Adam is the Artistic Director of OVO, the company he co-founded with Simon Nicholas in 2003.

Since 2011 he has led The Maltings Theatre in St Albans, turning a loss making venue which had been dark for two years into a profitable and critically acclaimed producing theatre.

In 2014 he co-founded the summer Open Air Festival at the historic 2,000 year old Roman Theatre of Verulamium which has grown to become one of the largest outdoor theatre festivals in the country, attracting over 12,000 visitors in 2022.

Directing credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Roman Theatre of Verulamium); The Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It (Minack Theatre, Cornwall); Peter Pan (Alban Arena), Mosquitoes (National Tour), Beginning, Middle, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The 39 Steps, Contractions, Macbeth, The Ladykillers (The Maltings Theatre), Twelfth Night (Rose Playhouse), The Importance of Being Earnest, Twelfth Night (Bridewell Theatre) and The New World Order (Edinburgh Fringe). Adam’s production of As You Like It won the 2016 Minack Trophy and was named as one of The Guardian’s top shows of 2019.

In 2020 Adam co-founded the Coalition for Open Air Theatre which was instrumental in persuading the government to reopen theatres after the first Covid lockdown.

In 2021 Adam was named in The Stage 100, the definitive guide to the most influential figures working in the UK theatre and performing arts industry today. He also featured in the UK Social Entrepreneur Index in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

These days Adam is rarely seen on stage but he had a successful career as a child actor, the highlight of which was being murdered by Antony Sher as one of the princes in the tower in the seminal Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard III in 1985.

Away from the world of theatre, Adam has forged a successful parallel career in the education sector. He created a chain of schools across East Africa, spent 8 years as CEO of youth leadership charity Changemakers, was an advisor to Prime Ministers Brown and Cameron on education and youth policy and serves on the boards of a number of education organisations in the UK and around the world.

David Widdowson


David is a Partner at Abbiss Cadres LLP. He qualified as a solicitor in 1985, having spent four years prior to that in HR management. He has built highly regarded employment law teams in two large commercial law firms in the City of London and enjoys a reputation as a leading employment lawyer. He has been a member of the Employment Lawyers Association since its inception and has served on its Legislative and Policy Committee since 1994, engaging regularly with Government on legislative reform. In addition to his legal skills David is a qualified mediator and a member of the World Association of Business Coaches.

As an actor, David made his OVO debut in The New World Order and followed this up with an acclaimed performance in the title role of Macbeth, for which he was nominated for Best Actor in the Barnet Drama Festival and which he subsequently reprised both indoors and open air. Other Shakespeare includes Jaques in As You Like It, Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Duke in Measure for Measure. Other OVO appearances include Sir William Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea, Oldridge in The Uninvited Ghost, and Robin in The Children.

Martin Sharman

Operations Director

Biography coming soon

Cecily Batten

Marketing Manager

Judy Lipsey


Judy Lipsey is a dynamic arts and entertainment publicist and is proud to be a member of the OVO team. A former music and film journalist, Judy’s PR experience was honed at various record companies including Sony, EMI, and BMG. She then co-founded The Works PR, working with a huge range of artists including Michael Ball, Elaine Paige, Wynton Marsalis, English National Ballet, and more. After a spell at Premier PR as Associate Director, she left in 2019 to set up Lipsey PR to specialise in theatre and dance; alongside OVO, her roster includes New English Ballet Theatre, Mark Bruce Company, Let’s Dance International Frontiers Festival, Lost Dog Dance and Didy Veldman among others.

Kelly Stewart

Marketing and Operations Officer

A recent University of Cambridge graduate, Kelly specialises in sign-integrated theatre and is currently undertaking further BSL training. Her past Assistant Director roles include Singin’ in the Rain (ADC Theatre, Cambridge) and multiple Oxford Shakespeare Festival productions. Having studied acting at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, her previous on stage roles include Hermione in Andromache, Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Kate in King Charles III (OTG), Varya in The Cherry Orchard (Corpus Playroom, Cambridge), Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Dorchester Festival) and Claire in Yes Prime Minister (Fiasco Theatre). For OVO, Kelly was Assistant Director for Beginning/Middle and played a multiplicity of roles in A Christmas Carol.

Stephanie Allison

Associate Artist

Stephanie studied Drama at Exeter University and specialised in directing, choreography and applied theatre.

In 2014 she made her debut with OVO playing Ariel in The Tempest, with notable other performances including Phoebe in As You Like It, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mrs Marshall in Playhouse Creatures, Leah/Laura in Fugue and Katie Howard in The Regina Monologues.

Over the last few years, Stephanie has been part of the company's creative team. She was Adapter, Co-director and Choreographer for Little Women, Co-director for Poison and Scissor Sisters and Movement Director for Peter Pan and Mosquitoes.

Tom Cagnoni

Associate Artist

om trained as a jazz guitarist, before turning his hand to many other instruments including piano, drums and double bass. During his time studying Maths and Music at the University of Leeds he developed a love for musical theatre, performing regularly at the Edinburgh Festival as a member of Hungry Bitches Productions. He joined OVO as Musical Director for As You Like It in 2016, following that up as MD for a new open-air musical every summer since including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (twice), Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Peter Pan and The Winter’s Tale. Tom has also composed original music for Peter Pan and The Winter’s Tale.

Amy Connery

Associate Artist

Biography coming soon

Simon Nicholas

Associate Artist and Founder

As a Co-Founder of OVO, Simon pioneered the innovative use of film in the company’s work, including Romeo and Juliet, The New World Order, The Ladykillers, Betrayal and the lockdown Zoom sensation, Twelfth Night Live. He has also integrated film into the musicals Chess and Jesus Christ Superstar and, most recently, for Sir Trevor Nunn’s Beckett Triple Bill at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre. For the last five years, Simon has built the theatre inside the remains of the Roman Theatre of Verulamium for our annual festival. He has created the sets for dozens of OVO shows including the award winning production of As You Like It, which gave him the challenge of creating a life-size VW campervan, and Much Ado About Nothing, for which he built an authentic 1950s American diner. His acting career now spans four decades, most recently in OVO's highly acclaimed production of The 39 Steps, described as "A tour de force.” (★★★★ The Stage). He has fond memories of playing the shadowy Historic William Tell in the controversial 2015 Royal Opera House production of Guillaume Tell – although he wasn’t singing!

Janet Podd

Associate Director

Janet began her acting career in Oxford where roles included Sonya in Uncle Vanya and Virgilia in Coriolanus. She has worked as a freelance theatre and opera director in Oxford, Edinburgh and London - productions include Don Giovanni (Scottish Sinfonia), The Birthday Party (Oxfordshire Touring), Dido and Aeneas (Scottish Music School) The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni (Harrow Opera) and The Marriage of Figaro (Prior Park College, Bath). Directing credits for OVO include Landscape, A Kind of Alaska, La Boheme, Playhouse Creatures, Hold off the Earth, Splendour, The Crucible and Hedda Gabler. With Adam Nichols she has co-directed OVO’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter's Tale. Janet created the Drama Department at the North London Collegiate School and acts as Drama Consultant for the Maru-a-Pula School in Botswana.

Matt Strachan

Associate Director

Matt is a freelance director originally from Yorkshire. Credits include head/lining (Pleasance), Beyond Neverland (Theatre503), Tier Three Sisters, Starved (Hope) and An Ode to Modern Democracy and the Hairdresser (BBC). He directed The Chimes for OVO and has assistant directed OVO's productions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Vinegar Tom as well as numerous productions at London's West End and Fringe theatres. Matt is also currently an Associate of the King’s Head Theatre and his recent work has been recognised by the Offies and London Pub Theatre's Standing Ovation Awards.
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