Second annual Shakespeare Slam features Paul Gross, Steven Page, Hawksley Workman | Toronto event offers an evening of music and spirited debate

March 10, 2014Paul Gross, Steven Page and Hawksley Workman are headlining the Stratford Festival Forum’s Shakespeare Slam on Wednesday, April 23, at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. This celebration marking Shakespeare’s 450th birthday will be hosted by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, and will showcase the Festival’s 2014 season theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge.

Two teams of spirited debaters will square off on whether madness is inherent in the artistic process. On the one side are actor Paul Gross, famed for his portrayal of Slings and Arrows’ mentally overwrought artistic director Geoffrey Tennant, and Lisa Brown, founder and executive/artistic director of Workman Arts, which celebrates and promotes the work of artists living with mental-health and addiction issues.

Opposing them are Juno Award-winning musician, Festival composer and renowned troubadour Steven Page and the Festival’s resident Rhodes Scholar, the hilarious and erudite David Goldbloom, who, in addition to being past chair of the Festival’s Board, is the senior medical advisor for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Once they’ve hashed things over, the music begins! Hawksley Workman takes centre stage with his own brand of musical performance that is certain to leave you wanting more – which you’ll be able to find in Stratford, September 11 to 20, when he presents his Bacchae-inspired cabaret The God That Comes at the Forum.

Steven Page will also offer up one of his exuberant musical performances, featuring songs combining humour and pathos in a memorable exploration of the evening’s theme.

The event culminates in a truly joyous grand finale, featuring Slam headliners and members of the Festival company.

Tickets for the Shakespeare Slam go on sale March 11. They are priced from $39 to $54, with a student price of $29. To purchase, call the Stratford Festival box office at 1.800.567.1600. Tickets are also available through Koerner Hall.

The Shakespeare Slam serves as the launch of the Stratford Festival Forum, which will present more than 200 events this season, including featured speakers Margaret Trudeau, Jian Ghomeshi, Muhammad Robert Heft and Camille Paglia, as well as concerts, comedy shows, screenings and performance showcases exploring the playbill and the theme of Minds Pushed to the Edge.

The Stratford Festival Forum is very pleased to welcome Bell Let’s Talk as a new partner and the Host Sponsor for the Shakespeare Slam as well as selected Forum events that focus on mental health throughout the 2014 season.

Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Foundation.

Support for the 2014 Forum is generously provided by Nandita & Julian Wise.

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Press Release | Stratford Festival extends two Shakespeares | Venue set for Peter Sellars’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

February 24, 2014… The 2014 season is off to a strong start, with brisk advance ticket sales. To meet demand, the Stratford Festival is adding performances of Antony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play.

“It is encouraging to see such strong endorsement at our box office this early in the season,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney. “And we’re delighted that the first shows we’ve had to extend are two of our Shakespeare offerings – very fitting as we mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth this year.”

“We have presented Antony and Cleopatra just four other times in our history,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Audience members who have been eagerly awaiting a Stratford Festival production of this title will be justly rewarded. We could not hope for two more passionate and charismatic actors to play the title roles than Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh.

“The demand for Peter Sellars’s re-imagined Dream also speaks to the fact that our audiences are actively seeking out Shakespeare productions that they cannot see anywhere else. The Chamber Dream promises to delight and challenge theatregoers with a new take on a Shakespearean favourite.”

In this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream four actors – Sarah Afful, Dion Johnstone, Trish Lindström and Mike Nadajewski – will explore the multiple worlds of Shakespeare’s play. It will reflect on Shakespeare’s intertwining of pagan and Christian spirituality and venture into the inner realms of the play’s supernatural elements.

Community-based venue confirmed

for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play

The Festival has confirmed that A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play will be staged in Stratford’s Masonic Concert Hall, located downtown, at 15 Church Street, across from the library and court house.

“The Masons were very quick to support our use of the venue, and we give them our thanks,” says Ms Gaffney. “They have agreed to complete a number of renovations to make the building accessible, including adding a ramp and accessible washroom, renovations that will be of great benefit to the community and all those who wish to use the facility in the future.”

The idea of presenting the show in a non-traditional venue was central to the vision of director Peter Sellars. He feels that the venue’s location in a combined commercial-residential neighbourhood makes it a perfect choice and he is delighted that the Masons are enthusiastic about making improvements to the building for its future use.

Performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play, directed by Peter Sellars, have been added as follows:

  • Friday, August 1, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, August 8, at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 14, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, August 22, at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 28, at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 11, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, September 19, at 2 p.m.

The following performances of Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Gary Griffin, have been added:

  • Friday, August 22, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, August 29, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, September 5, at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 13, at 8 p.m.

Tickets for these additional performances will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. on February 26, with advance sales to Members of the Stratford Festival beginning at the same time on February 25. Call the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca to purchase.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play is sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

Production support for Antony and Cleopatra is generously provided by M.E.H. Foundation. Support for the 2014 season of the Tom Patterson Theatre is generously provided by Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner.

The 2014 season of the Stratford Festival runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play; and more than 150 events in the Stratford Festival Forum.

Press Release: Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction welcomes new participants for 2014 session

February 14, 2014… The Stratford Festival welcomes five new directors to the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, along with three directors returning to the program for a second year.

New to the workshop are Christine Brubaker, Jessica Carmichael, Brett Christopher, Krista Jackson and Rona Waddington. Returning for a second season are Kevin Bennett, Mitchell Cushman and Birgit Schreyer Duarte.

The workshop, now in its fifth year, is intended for directors in the early and middle stages of their careers who have had some experience working with the classics, but not at a theatre of the complexity and scope of the Festival.

Participants will serve as assistant directors and are given the opportunity to showcase their work by presenting a classical piece of their own choosing to an invited audience later in the season. They will also participate in classes in text, voice, movement and other disciplines held by the Festival’s Coaching Department.

“I am delighted with the quality of the participants this year,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “They come from across Canada and have diverse backgrounds. What unites them is their love for theatre and a record of early accomplishments, which promises much for the future. I welcome them to Stratford.”

The workshop is overseen by Mr. Cimolino and Theatre Training Consultant David Latham. Associate Producer Bonnie Green is the coordinator of the program.

The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction is generously supported by Johanna Metcalf, the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation and The Philip and Berthe Morton Foundation. The workshop is sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artist Project.

Participants’ Biographies

Kevin Bennett

Second season: Assistant director of King John. Stratford: The Three Musketeers (assistant director), Macbeth (Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction Directors’ Workshop Presentation). Vancouver: Directing: Measure for Measure (Pacific Theatre); King Lear, Hamlet (The Honest Fishmongers); Fallout, Treasure Island (Studio 58); The Loudest Silence, 7 Stories (Templeton Secondary School); Cold Comfort, The Woman in Black (Yogurt Theatre); The Priory (United Players of Vancouver); Macbeth, Pet Stories (Limbo Circus Theatre); To Sea, or Not to Sea (Burnaby Summer Theatre); Paper Boats (Walking Fish Festival). Assistant director: She Stoops to Conquer (Arts Club); Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing (Bard on the Beach); NiX (The Only Animal, Cultural Olympiad); The Merchant of Venice, Heptademic, The Winter’s Tale, Lot’s Wife (Studio 58). Training: Graduate of Studio 58; RADA’s How to Rehearse directing course.

Christine Brubaker

Stratford debut: Assistant director of Alice Through the Looking-Glass. Elsewhere: An award-winning actor, director and teacher, Christine has performed nationally and internationally. She just completed a season in the National Arts Centre’s acting ensemble: Tartuffe, The Sound of Music and Enron. Acting: Fear of Flight (Artistic Fraud); The Vaudevilles of Chekhov (NAC); The Penelopiad (Dora Award) and The Danish Play (Nightwood Theatre); The Comedy of Errors (Canadian Stage); The Trials of John Demjanjuk (Theatre Asylum); The Babysitter (Theatre Direct – Dora Award); Schoolhouse (Festival Players PEC). Directing: Much Ado About Nothing (Nightwood Theatre); Madhouse Variations and Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show (Eldritch Theatre – resident director); Elle (Lab Cab). Assistant Director: Cinderella (YPT), Measure for Measure (Ryerson), Metamorphoses (NAC). Training: National Theatre School, University of Waterloo, MFA Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College. Awards: Fox Fellow. Et cetera: Christine is a regular instructor at Humber and Sheridan colleges.

Jessica Carmichael

Stratford debut: Assistant director of Christina, The Girl King. Elsewhere: Selected directing: Good Grief (Weesageechak Festival-26 – Native Earth Performing Arts); girls!girls!girls! (co-director, SummerWorks); The Ghost Sonata – an adaptation (Studio Theatre); Juliet – an adaptation, Skylight (UofA); The Sophocles Project (RADA). Assistant directing: Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee (Studio Theatre); Edward the Second (Jerwood Vanbrugh Studio, U.K.). Has acted with such companies as Theatre Junction, ATP, The Only Animal, Suitcase In Point, Northern Light Theatre. Film/TV: The Reporter, I Think I Do, Heart of the Sun. Recordings: The voice of Tiger Lily on The New Adventures of Peter Pan. Training: MFA in Directing (University of Alberta), MA in Text & Performance Studies (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/King’s College London), three-year Acting Program (The National Theatre School of Canada). Et cetera: Artistic Associate with Native Earth Performing Arts.

Brett Christopher

Stratford debut: Assistant director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Elsewhere: Direction: The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Shakespeare on Love (Theatre by the Bay); The Grandkid, Rat Snake (Theatre Kingston); Munschapalooza (Thousand Islands Playhouse). Performance: Boeing Boeing, The Clockmaker (TIP); Vigil (Theatre Kingston); I Am My Own Wife, Dangerous Liaisons (Segal Theatre); Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare in the Rough); Much Ado About Nothing (Canadian Stage); Family Stories: Belgrade, The Sea (ARC); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It (Theatre by the Bay); The Gladstone Variations, Autoshow (Convergence Theatre); Mary’s Wedding (Theatre & Co.). Training: Queen’s University, George Brown College. Awards: Masques Award and a MECCA Award for his performance in I Am My Own Wife, Segal Centre (Montreal). Et cetera: Brett is the Artistic Producer of Theatre Kingston.

Mitchell Cushman

Second season: Assistant director of The Beaux’ Stratagem. Stratford: Assistant director, The Merchant of Venice. Elsewhere: Directing: Vitals, Terminus, Mr. Marmalade, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Oh the Humanity and Other Good Intentions (Outside the March); New Jerusalem (Harold Green Jewish Theatre); The Last of Romeo and Juliet, Possible Worlds (Talk Is Free Theatre); The Cripple of Inishmaan (Studio Theatre, Edmonton); Oh My Irma (Edmonton Fringe); Seeds (touring director, Crow’s Theatre). Training: MFA in Directing, University of Alberta. Awards: Siminovitch Protégé Award; Dora Award for Outstanding Production (Mr. Marmalade); Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Director; Ken McDougal Award; SummerWorks Prize for Production (Terminus). Online: www.outsidethemarch.ca. Et cetera: Founding Co-Artistic Director of Outside the March; Associate Artistic Director of Crow’s Theatre; resident artist at Theatre Passe Muraille; faculty member at Act 2 Studio at Ryerson.

Krista Jackson

Stratford debut: Assistant director of Mother Courage and Her Children. Elsewhere: Directing: The Seagull, The Seafarer (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); Dying to be Thin (Manitoba Theatre for Young People); The Miser of Middlegate (zone41 theatre/Theatre Projects Manitoba); If Men Played Cards as Women Do, Overtones (Shaw Festival); Village Wooing (zone41 theatre). Assistant directing: Hedda Gabler, Misalliance, His Girl Friday (Shaw Festival); The Wizard of Oz (Globe Theatre). Training: Shaw Festival’s Neil Munro Intern Directors Project 2012, Rumble Directors Lab 2013 (Peter Hinton), Ryerson Theatre School. Awards: Gina Wilkinson Prize (2013). Nominated for: John Hirsch Prize (2014), Winnipeg Arts Council’s RBC On the Rise Award (2012). Online: www.zone41.ca. Et cetera: Founding artistic director of zone41 theatre.

Birgit Schreyer Duarte

Second season: Assistant director of King Lear. Stratford: Assistant director, Mary Stuart (2013). Elsewhere: Most recently: Director/translator, Purgatory in Ingleton (Toronto SummerWorks Festival). Upcoming: Assistant director/dramaturge, To a Flame (Swedish/Finnish/Canadian co-production). Director, Little Pea’s Revolution (United Solo, New York); translator, The Test (Company Theatre), Life of Galileo (Small Wooden Shoe); director/translator, Kaspar & the Sea of Houses (SummerWorks); assistant director, The Cosmonaut’s Last Message, intern director, Fernando Krapp Wrote Me This Letter (Canadian Stage). Training: Theatre Ontario Professional Training Program Directing (mentor Josette Bushell-Mingo); University of Toronto (PhD, drama); Munich University (MA, dramaturgy). Awards: SummerWorks Festival Prize for Outstanding Production; nomination, Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize; Government of Canada Research Award. Online: www.birgitschreyerduarte.com. Et cetera: Literary associate, Shaw Festival. Currently: Artistic and dramaturgical consultant, Canadian Stage. Originally from Munich, Germany.

Rona Waddington

Stratford debut: Assistant director of Antony and Cleopatra. Elsewhere: Director: Hamlet (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival); The Tempest, King Lear (upcoming) (New Open Space Company, Paris); Trying (Centaur Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mousetrap, Steel Magnolias (Drayton Entertainment); Dry Streak (Grand Theatre); Apollo of Bellac (Shaw Festival Director’s Project); Oleanna (Sudbury Theatre Centre); Orson’s Shadow (Pilot Group); Chekhov’s The Bear, The SantaLand Diaries, Power Lunch (Lunchbox Theatre); Driving Miss Daisy (Port Stanley Festival Theatre); The Godot Cycle (Toronto Fringe); The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (American Conservatory Theatre, MFA program). Assistant Director: Age of Arousal, The Women (Shaw Festival); Night and Day (American Conservatory Theatre). Resident director: The Railway Children (Marquis/Mirvish). Awards: Ottawa Critic’s Circle Award, Best Director, Hamlet, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

Press Release: Chilina Kennedy withdraws from season Natalie Daradich, Robin Hutton step in

February 12, 2014Chilina Kennedy has had to withdraw from the 2014 season for the happiest of reasons: she and her partner, Jacob James, are expecting a baby. She was to play Polly Baker in Crazy for You and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, but she is now unable to undertake two such physically challenging roles. Ms Kennedy remains a valued member of the Festival family, and plans are underway to include her new concert as part of the 2014 Forum.

Natalie Daradich, most recently seen as Glinda in the U.S. tour of Wicked, will take on the role of Polly Baker. Ms Daradich, whose career took her to New York after she graduated from the Sheridan musical theatre program with Ms Kennedy more than a decade ago, will make her Festival debut in Crazy for You.

Robin Hutton will step into the role of Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and is also playing Irene Roth in Crazy for You.  Ms Hutton shone in the key roles of Louise in the 2012 production of Wanderlust, Irene in 2005’s Hello, Dolly! and Tzeitel in 2000’s Fiddler on the Roof, a musical she returned to last season, playing Rifka. Her other Stratford credits include Tommy, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Henry V, As You Like It and The Three Musketeers.

“We are absolutely delighted that Natalie and Robin are able to take on these roles,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “They are both exceptionally talented performers whom we are privileged to have on our stages. Our audiences have a real treat in store. I’m so happy for Chilina and look forward to welcoming her back to the company in future seasons.”

The first rehearsal for Crazy for You, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore with musical direction by Shelley Hanson, is on Monday, February 17. The production starts previews on April 21 and opens officially on May 27, running until October 12.

Man of La Mancha, directed by Robert McQueen and choreographed by Marc Kimelman with musical direction by Franklin Brasz, goes into rehearsal on March 1. Previews begin May 8 and the production opens on May 29, running until October 11.

The 2014 season of the Stratford Festival runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 150 events in The Stratford Festival Forum. Tickets are available through the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or online at www.stratfordfestival.ca.

Press Release | Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two to open in Los Angeles

January 22, 2014 … The Stratford Festival’s production of Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two opens at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles today.

The production, directed by Des McAnuff, was originally presented in 2012 as a special event to mark the Stratford Festival’s 60th season.

“I am thrilled to have the Stratford Festival represented in Los Angeles by Christopher Plummer in A Word or Two,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “He worked long and hard assembling this wonderful script and, together with Des, he has created a terrific evening in the theatre. We thank our friends and colleagues at CTG for their interest in this production.”

“I had the chance to see the show over the weekend in Los Angeles,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “and audiences at the Ahmanson Theatre are in for a real treat. Christopher Plummer dazzles with his wit and story-telling mastery. The show played to sold-out houses in Stratford and the creative team that mounted that production has been reassembled for this special engagement.”

A Word or Two runs in Los Angeles until February 9.

The Stratford Festival is garnering great interest in productions developed on its stages. Hirsch, by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson, developed through the Festival’s new play department and originally produced at the Studio Theatre in 2012, was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre last year, and will open at Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival next month. The Best Brothers, by Daniel MacIvor, another 2012 production developed by the Festival, was presented at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre and Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange in 2013. The Little Years, commissioned by the Festival from John Mighton, based on an earlier script, was originally produced in 2011 and was re-mounted at Tarragon Theatre in 2012, winning Dora Awards for Best Director for Chris Abraham and Best Actress for Irene Poole. The 2009 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum moved on to a Toronto run later that year with Mirvish Productions.

The 2009 production of The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, moved to Broadway in 2011, winning a Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Desmond Heeley and Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor for Brian Bedford. The 2011 production of Jesus Christ Superstar moved to Broadway in 2012, winning Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Josh Young.

The latest Festival commission, an English version of Michel Marc Bouchard’s Christina, The Girl King, translated by Linda Gaboriau, will open this summer at the Studio Theatre. Work continues on a number of other commissions, which the Festival hopes will soon come to fruition in Stratford and beyond.

The 2014 Stratford Festival season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 150 events in The Forum. Tickets are available through the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or online at www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Press Release: Casting begins for Festival’s 60th season

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has begun to confirm casting for its 60th season and is pleased to announce the return of the following actors: Kyle Blair, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Cynthia Dale, Deborah Hay, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Tom Rooney and Mike Shara.

“I am delighted to welcome all these superbly talented performers back to our stages,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “A theatre is defined by its artists, above all else, and I take great pride in knowing that we will be embarking on our milestone 60th season with an acting ensemble to rival any in the world.”

“This casting announcement is just a taste of what is to come for the Festival in 2012,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “With key players like these leading our ensemble, the 60th will be a season to remember.”

Kyle Blair takes musical leads in Pirates and 42nd Street

Kyle Blair will play the leading roles of Billy Lawlor in the tap spectacular 42nd Street and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance. Mr. Blair was last seen at the Festival in 2007, playing Will Parker in Oklahoma! and Achmed in My One and Only. In seven seasons at Stratford, Mr. Blair’s memorable musical credits include Jack in Into the Woods, Professor Hamilton Steeves in South Pacific, Ambrose Kemper in Hello, Dolly! and Noah Claypole in Oliver!

Blendick, Carlson, Chioran return for a season of Shakespeare

James Blendick will mark his 29th season at the Festival, playing the principal role of Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing and the Archbishop of Canterbury in Henry V. Mr. Blendick delighted audiences this season as Master Robert Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mr. Blendick has been a stalwart of the Festival stage, playing significant roles in both Shakespearean and modern classics, including Doctor Chebutykin in Three Sisters, Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1, Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Claudius in Hamlet and Matthew Brady in Inherit the Wind.

Ben Carlson, currently playing Feste in Twelfth Night and Alceste in The Misanthrope, will celebrate his fifth season at Stratford playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Fluellen in Henry V. Among the Festival’s finest young classical actors, Mr. Carlson has taken on an impressive list of key roles, including Touchstone in As You Like It, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title role in Hamlet.

Juan Chioran will return for his 13th season to play Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing and Montjoy in Henry V. An award-winning stage and television actor, Mr. Chioran this season played Philinte in The Misanthrope and Fabian in Twelfth Night. He is admired by audiences for his musical and classical roles, both comic and dramatic, including last season’s Juan Perón in Evita and Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate, as well as Solyony in Three Sisters, Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well, Jaques in As You Like It and the title role in Man of La Mancha.

Cynthia Dale returns in 42nd Street; Deborah Hay returns to play Beatrice

Cynthia Dale’s eagerly anticipated return to the Stratford stage will see her take on the role of Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street. When last at Stratford, in 2007, Ms Dale starred in another tap musical, beautifully portraying Edythe Herbert in My One and Only. Ms Dale’s musical credits at the Festival also include leading roles in The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Man of La Mancha, Camelot and Anything Goes. 2012 will mark Ms Dale’s 11th season with the Festival.

Deborah Hay, most recently seen in leading roles at the Shaw Festival, will return for her fourth season at Stratford to play Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Alice in Henry V. A member of the Birmingham Conservatory in 1999, Ms Hay played such roles as Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew and Katharine in Love’s Labour’s Lost in Stratford. This season at Shaw, Ms Hay is playing Eliza Doolittle in their hit production of My Fair Lady, as well as Hesione Hushabye in Heartbreak House. Her portrayal of Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday was proclaimed as a standout at the Shaw in 2010.

Seana McKenna and Tom McCamus join forces in a lighter love affair

After his moving portrayal of Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath and his masterful turn as Master Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Tom McCamus will play the leading roles of Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker and Iachimo in Cymbeline. Last season, Mr. McCamus delighted audiences in the deliciously evil roles of Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons. In 11 seasons at Stratford, he has played a vast number of leading roles in such productions as Three Sisters, Bartholomew Fair, An Ideal Husband, The Threepenny Opera, Camelot, Waiting for Godot and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

After her triumphant turn as Richard III, Seana McKenna will make a welcome return to comedy, playing Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker. Stratford audiences will remember Ms McKenna’s lighter side from such productions as Private Lives, Present Laughter, Noises Off and London Assurance – and will be delighted to see her reunited with Mr. McCamus after their sizzling performances in Dangerous Liaisons. Adding to her acclaimed credits in classical tragedy, Ms McKenna will also play Clytemestra in the 2012 production of Elektra, having given moving portrayals of Medea, Andromache and Phèdre at the Festival, all of which were extremely highly regarded.

Tom Rooney and Lucy Peacock together again in Wanderlust

Celebrating her 25th season and 60th production with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Lucy Peacock will play the Hostess in Henry V and Mrs. Munsch in the new musical Wanderlust. Ms Peacock combined musical theatre and Shakespeare this season as well, playing Morgan le Fey in Camelot and the delightfully scheming Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, with Tom Rooney as her jealous husband. Last season the two actors appeared together in the moving production of For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again and in As You Like It, in which Ms Peacock played a memorable Audrey. In 2012 Ms Peacock and Mr. Rooney will again appear together.

Tom Rooney will take on the leading role of Robert Service in Wanderlust, the new musical commissioned from Morris Panych and composer Marek Norman. He will also play Pistol in Henry V. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Rooney has fast become a favourite on the Festival stage, most recently with his richly drawn portrayals of Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Master Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. He gave standout performances in 2009 as the Porter in Macbeth, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cassius in Julius Caesar. In addition to playing the Narrator in 2010’s For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Mr. Rooney played Duke Frederick and Duke Senior in As You Like It and Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale.

Mike Shara to play Cornelius in The Matchmaker

After making an impressive Shakespearean debut in 2010 as Oliver in As You Like It and the Young Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale, Mike Shara portrayed Orsino in this season’s Twelfth Night, and will return in 2012 to play Cloten in Cymbeline. Mr. Shara will also play the leading role of Cornelius in The Matchmaker. His Stratford credits also include an insightful portrayal of Teddy in this season’s acclaimed production of The Homecoming and the deliciously daft Algernon Moncrieff in the 2008 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Casting continues for the 2012 season.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs until November 6, featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Homecoming, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, The Little Years and Hosanna.