January 3, 2013… The Stratford Festival’s box office opens to the public this Saturday, January 5, at 9 a.m., with an online advance sale beginning at noon on Friday. Facebook fans, who want to use the Festival’s new social ticketing app will be able to purchase tickets as of 9 a.m. today. Tickets are being offered at up to 25% off until January 31, with an opportunity to exchange dates with no added expense.
This season, the first under Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, features 12 productions, from classical to contemporary, with Shakespeare as the centerpiece, and a new initiative, The Forum, which offers an extraordinary series of events to enrich the play-going experience. The playbill and The Forum have been designed to explore a number of themes related to community, and especially to communities in conflict and the role of the outsider in those communities.
“The plays and musicals we’re presenting in 2013 are extraordinary creations that explore the human condition in very different ways,” says Mr. Cimolino. “Presented by an exceptional company of actors and directors, who are among the finest in the world, these productions will open up lively conversations that can be further pursued through our many Forum events.”
Mr. Cimolino will himself direct The Merchant of Venice, with Brian Bedford as Shylock and Tom McCamus as Antonio, and Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart, featuring Seana McKenna and Lucy Peacock with Ben Carlson, Brian Dennehy and Geraint Wyn Davies.
Mr. Bedford will also serve as director of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit with Ben Carlson, Michelle Giroux, Seana McKenna and Sara Topham. Mr. Dennehy will play Pozzo in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, with Stephen Ouimette as Estragon and Tom Rooney as Vladimir, under the direction of Jennifer Tarver. And Ms Peacock will take the lead in the world première of Judith Thompson’s The Thrill, an inspiring love story about two people on opposing sides of the right-to-die movement.
Martha Henry returns to direct Carmen Grant, Stephen Ouimette, Tom Rooney and Geraint Wyn Davies in Measure for Measure. Ms Henry will also play the Prof in Taking Shakespeare, a new play by John Murrell, directed by Diana Leblanc, which is an exploration of another 2013 production, Othello, which will be directed by Chris Abraham and feature Graham Abbey, Bethany Jillard and Dion Johnstone.
Rounding out the Shakespeare offerings is Romeo and Juliet, featuring Daniel Brière and Sara Topham and directed by Tim Carroll, who returns to Stratford hot on the heels of his stunning success with Twelfth Night and Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
Des McAnuff returns to blow the roof off the Avon Theatre with his production of Tommy, the blockbuster musical he created with The Who’s Pete Townshend, winning five Tony awards, including best director and best score.
The main-stage musical, Fiddler on the Roof, is directed and choreographed by Donna Feore and features Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth. Also at the Festival Theatre is the family favourite The Three Musketeers, directed by Miles Potter and featuring Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Luke Humphrey and Mike Shara.
Advance ticket-buyers will be among the first to use the Festival’s new Social Ticketing app, which allows people to purchase tickets through their personal Facebook page. The app allows users to create a Festival Facebook Event, where they can coordinate visits to Stratford with friends and family. It offers a seat selection function through which users can see where their Facebook friends will be sitting and select their own seats accordingly. The free app can be downloaded at http://apps.facebook.com/stratfordsocial/.
The Festival is also introducing a Pre-Season Promise, which allows advance ticket buyers to exchange their tickets without incurring additional costs. Those who order before January 31 will keep their pre-season ticket price while being able to exchange for the same performance type and seating zone without paying exchange fees.
In addition to holding ticket prices at last year’s levels, the Festival is offering the following:
- A new $20 ticket price for students (down from $25).
- A 50% reduction in handling fees for all online purchases.
- A two-for-one promotion for tickets to Tuesday evening performances all season long (except opening nights).
- Twice-daily bus service from Toronto at a cost of $10 each way.
“Our goal is to enhance the Stratford experience in as many ways as possible,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney. “We want people to enjoy not only the productions, but also the many Forum events we have planned. We hope that by introducing such things as Two-for-one Tuesdays, along with lower prices for students, reduced fees and an affordable twice-daily bus from Toronto, people will be able to come to Stratford more often or stay longer and immerse themselves in the theatre and the city.”
The Festival’s recently announced Stratford Direct bus offers direct travel between Toronto and Stratford at a cost of just $10 each way. Buses leave Toronto at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and return after the shows, at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. on performance days between May 27 and September 29. From May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20, there will be one return trip daily, on performance days only, with buses leaving Toronto at 10 a.m. and departing Stratford at 5 p.m.
Once in Stratford, theatre-goers will be invited to fully engage with the Stratford experience. With more than 100 events already scheduled, The Forum will address the themes of classical theatre as seen in our world today through music, interactive discussions, comedy, panels, debates, dramatic readings and keynote speakers.
“We are building a festival within our Festival to complement the work on our stages and we’re very proud of the exceptional program for the inaugural Forum,” says Mr. Cimolino. “It includes speakers such as John de Chastelain and Adam Gopnik, musical performances by Cynthia Dale, the ARC Ensemble and others, as well as special presentations by key members of our company, including Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock and Geraint Wyn Davies.
“Our patrons hunger for opportunities to reflect on the work they see on our stages. They seek out opportunities that provide context, insight and illumination. The Forum is designed to feed that desire and to give people something they can’t get anywhere else: a chance to become fully immersed in theatre and the thoughts and feelings that it provokes.”
The 2013 season begins on April 23 and runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof, The Three Musketeers, The Merchant of Venice, Tommy,Blithe Spirit, Othello, Measure for Measure, Mary Stuart, Waiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill. To order tickets, call 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.