Opening Week

It was a triumphant opening week for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and everyone here is delighted with the success of the season so far – and eagerly looking forward to all the openings still ahead.

For the gala season opening night on Monday, June 7, we held a live video feed from the red carpet at the Festival Theatre entrance. The webcast was hosted by Stratford favourite Bruce Dow (who is back this season in The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona). It was a great opportunity to meet Festival actors and other artists, and also some of the many people who work behind the scenes. We’ve put together a little montage of people Bruce spoke to:

After everyone was ushered to their seats and we sang the national anthem, the productions of opening week got underway.

Monday night the audience was treated to a wonderful production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Set in the 1920s, it has a fabulous cast and an irresistibly tuneful score to accompany the many songs that Shakespeare incorporated into the play. Tuesday, the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, dazzled us in a bold and colourful interpretation by Tony Award-winning director John Doyle.

The middle of the week brought us a rarely produced Shakespeare drama, The Winter’s Tale. Beautifully staged in the intimate Tom Patterson Theatre, it had a warm reception from both patrons and critics. Thursday, the Festival rocked out with Evita at the Avon theatre – the first rock opera Stratford has ever staged.

Friday’s opening show, the revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, was a real treat for music lovers – and then, to round off the week, patrons were whisked off with Wendy, Michael and John to the Never Land in J. M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. The obvious excitement of the younger theatregoers (and the not-so young ones too) was a clear sign that the week had come to a suitably thrilling conclusion.

But opening week is just the beginning of the excitement here at Stratford: there’s lots more to come. Next to open, for instance, is a production that many newspapers – and even National Geographic – are calling the must-see event of the summer. That’s The Tempest, with the internationally renowned Christopher Plummer in the role of Prospero.

We look forward to seeing you before the season’s up at the end of October.

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The Winter’s Tale ~ Dress Rehearsal

From left: Yanna McIntosh as Hermione, Seana McKenna as Paulina and Ben Carlson as Leontes. Photo by: Andrew Eccles

The Winter’s Tale

by William Shakespeare

May 27 to September 25 – Opens June 9

Do you remember the last time you sat around the campfire and told stories?  Tales you’ve heard so often that they’re like old friends – yet you still enjoy hearing them every time?  Shakespeare would have been familiar with a few stories told by the fire on those cold English winter nights.  Perhaps it was in the spirit of these winter tales that he wrote The Winter’s Tale, now playing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

If you’re not familiar with The Winter’s Tale, don’t be alarmed – it’s not produced very often. In fact, this is only the fourth time we’ve done it at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  To help you with the story, here’s a short presentation I found online.

Like The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale was written toward the end of Shakespeare’s career and displays his artistry at its most mature.  Effortlessly exploring the full range of human emotion, it’s a story of love, betrayal, deceit and – most important of all – reconciliation.

Seeing this particular production, you cannot help but be in awe of the amazing cast director Marti Maraden has at her disposal.  It includes Ben Carlson, Ian Lake, Cara Ricketts, Yanna McIntosh, Seana McKenna, Tom Rooney and Mike Shara, to name just a few.  Each of these actors is amazing in his or her own right; together, they’re simply magical.  In each case, their strengths have been drawn out by Maraden, who has interacted with this script a number of times over her career as an actor and director.  She weaves this winter’s tale masterfully.

John Pennoyer’s simple yet exquisite design transports you to the two worlds of the play – Sicily and Bohemia – and shows you the huge contrast between them.  Sicilia is very courtly in its design: it’s an orderly world with a traditional elegance.  Bohemia, on the other hand, is a land of bright vibrant colours, as seen in the clothing of the somewhat quirky characters who inhabit it.  Pennoyer is in his 25th season at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and many of us have come to adore his work.  The Winter’s Tale is sure to delight his fans.

This is a chance to catch a rarely produced masterpiece with an amazing cast and a great artistic team, all brought together under the direction of Marti Maraden.  The Winter’s Tale runs in rep from May 27 through September 25.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Camillo………………………………………………………………………. Sean Arbuckle

Second Lady………………………………………………………………. Dalal Badr

A Gaoler/First Gentleman………………………………………………. Skye Brandon

Leontes………………………………………………………………………. Ben Carlson

Polixenes……………………………………………………………………. Dan Chameroy

First Officer………………………………………………………………… Victor Dolhai

A Mariner/Paulina’s Steward/Third Gentleman…………………… Victor Ertmanis

Cleomenes………………………………………………………………….. Xuan Fraser

Dorcas ………………………………………………………………………. Alana Hawley

Antigonus/Time……………………………………………………………. Randy Hughson

Florizel……………………………………………………………………….. Ian Lake

First Lord…………………………………………………………………… Roy Lewis

Mamillius……………………………………………………………………. Luke McCarroll

Hermione……………………………………………………………………. Yanna McIntosh

Paulina……………………………………………………………………….. Seana McKenna

Emilia…………………………………………………………………………. Ginette Mohr

Second Officer/Second Gentleman………………………………….. Paul Nolan

Dion………………………………………………………………………….. Christopher Prentice

Second Lord……………………………………………………………….. Jonathan Purdon

Perdita……………………………………………………………………….. Cara Ricketts

Autolycus……………………………………………………………………. Tom Rooney

Mopsa……………………………………………………………………….. Andrea Runge

Young Shepherd………………………………………………………….. Mike Shara

Archidamus/Old Shepherd…………………………………………….. Brian Tree

Young Shepherdess……………………………………………………… Abigail Winter-Culliford

Artistic Credits

Director……………………………………………………………………… Marti Maraden

Designer…………………………………………………………………….. John Pennoyer

Lighting Designer………………………………………………………….. Louise Guinand

Sound Designer……………………………………………………………. Todd Charlton

Composer…………………………………………………………………… Marc Desormeaux

Movement………………………………………………………………….. Shona Morris

Stunt Coordinator………………………………………………………… Simon Fon

Aerial Effects………………………………………………………………. Sven Johansson

Assistant Director…………………………………………………………. Thomas Morgan Jones

Assistant Designer………………………………………………………… Devon Bhim

Assistant Lighting Designer…………………………………………….. Michael Franzmann

Fight Captain………………………………………………………………. Xuan Fraser

Movement Captain……………………………………………………….. Victor Dolhai

Stage Manager…………………………………………………………….. Ann Stuart

Assistant Stage Manager……………………………………………….. Corinne Richards

Assistant Stage Manager……………………………………………….. Melissa Rood

Apprentice Stage Manager…………………………………………….. Katherine Arcus

Production Assistant……………………………………………………… Emilie Aubin

Production Stage Manager…………………………………………….. Julie Miles

Production Stage Manager…………………………………………….. Marylu Moyer