May 25, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival launches its 60th season on Monday, May 28, with a gala performance of Much Ado About Nothing. This is the final season under the artistic directorship of Des McAnuff, and one that promises an array of wonderful theatre for every taste and age group.
“The 60th season is representative of Stratford in all its glory,” says Mr. McAnuff, who is directing Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two, both of which open later in the season. “Embodying Stratford’s hallmark marriage of tradition and innovation, the Cplaybill ranges from the very roots of drama to some of the finest playwrights working in Canada today. Shakespearean comedy, history and romance are complemented by a hilarious contemporary pastiche of Shakespearean tragedy, while the season’s varied musical theatre repertoire acknowledges our own era’s great contribution to the western dramatic tradition. Meanwhile, the strength of our acting company is being showcased not only in Stratford but also on Broadway, with the Tony-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar.”
“As we celebrate our Festival’s 60th season, the glorious heritage of our past provides us with a clear signpost to the way ahead,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our pioneering artists and those who supported them sought to create in Stratford nothing less than the finest classical theatre in the world. Thanks to their vision and determination, the adventure that began in 1953 with two productions in a tent is now North America’s premier repertory theatre, featuring 14 productions in five venues. That same spirit drives us today as we explore the classics of the past and give birth to the classics of the future.”
Much Ado About Nothing is directed by Christopher Newton, who was a member of the Festival’s acting company from 1966 to 1968. It features Ben Carlson as Benedick and Deborah Hay as Beatrice.
Five other productions will open during the week: 42nd Street, directed by Gary Griffin and featuring Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor, Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, and Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Peggy Sawyer; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore, featuring Stephen Patterson as Snoopy, Erica Peck as Lucy and Ken James Stewart as Charlie Brown; Cymbeline, directed by Antoni Cimolino, featuring Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Cymbeline; The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny, featuring Sean Arbuckle as the Pirate King, Kyle Blair as Frederic, C. David Johnson as the Major General, and Amy Wallis as Mabel Stanley; and The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham, featuring Tom McCamus as Horace Vandergelder and Seana McKenna as Dolly Levi.
The 60th season will feature a number of special events, including Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two, which will run from July 25 to August 26. Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an exhibition of Festival artifacts, including rare footage of our pioneers, at a new space kitty-corner to the Avon Theatre, at 104 Downie Street. A symposium, Interpreting Shakespeare Across Settings and Media, featuring Colm Feore, Norman Lloyd, Dr. Katherine Lowe and the Festival’s Director of Archives, Dr. Francesca Marini, will be held on June 2. A dramatic reading of Edward Bond’s Bingo, about an aging William Shakespeare, will be held on June 15, with the playwright on hand for a Q&A with the audience. Lucy Peacock will hold a number of cabarets – Late Night with Lucy – in the new Studio Annex, in July and August, featuring music and conversation. The Celebrated Writers Series returns with Stephen Marche, author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything; Richard McCoy, author of Faith in Shakespeare; Michael Ondaatje, author of The Cat’s Table; and Margaret Atwood, author of In Other Worlds. Master voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenberg will present three special events from July 18 to 22, to mark 60 years of the Festival’s extensive actor training activities. The Festival will launch a special 60th season book on June 2, Stratford: Behind the Scenes, which will available through the Theatre Store. These special events are all in addition to the Festival’s usual enrichment activities.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.
Opening Week Itinerary
Sunday, May 27
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Festival Theatre lobby and gardens
Monday, May 28
Gala Opening of Much Ado About Nothing
Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford
6:30 p.m. Pipe Band parades to front of theatre and performs
7:00 p.m. Red Carpet arrivals
7:30 p.m. Performance of Much Ado About Nothing begins
10:10 p.m. Performance concludes
Tuesday, May 29
11:30 a.m. Book Launch – Festival Lobby
The Adventures of Adrian and Tiddlywinks by the late John Sullivan Hayes, former Producer of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Opening of 42nd Street
8:00 p.m. Performance begins
10:20 p.m. Performance concludes
Wednesday, May 30
Opening of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
9:55 p.m. Performance concludes
Thursday, May 31
Opening of Cymbeline
8 p.m. Tom Patterson Theatre
11 p.m. Performance concludes
Friday, June 1
Opening of The Pirates of Penzance
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
10:35 p.m. Performance concludes
Saturday, June 2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Symposium, Studio Theatre (please contact Andrea Smitko to reserve tickets)
1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Book Launch – Stratford: Behind the Scenes. Rehearsal Hall 3, Studio Theatre.
Opening of The Matchmaker
8 p.m. Festival Theatre
10:40 p.m. Performance concludes