Press Release | Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello begins previews

August 3, 2013… Shakespeare’s Othello, the classic tragedy of an interracial marriage fatally undermined by the deadly insinuations of a master manipulator, begins previews at the Avon Theatre on Sunday, August 4.

Award-winning theatre and film director Chris Abraham returns for his fourth season at the Festival. Following his popular staging of The Matchmaker, as well as audience favourites The Little Years in 2011 and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again in 2010, this production will be Mr. Abraham’s first Shakespearean assignment at Stratford.

“Othello, like Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear, struggles to locate the truth in an uncertain world,” says Mr. Abraham. “How is one to know anything about anybody? What is true and what is false? How can you know for sure? Are we fundamentally that mysterious to each other? It’s a terrifying question and one of ultimate importance, hinting that the dynamics of doubt and faith, more than jealousy, constitute the maddeningly dangerous subject of the play.”

The play centres on the Moorish general Othello, whose valiant exploits have earned him the gratitude of the Venetian state he serves – and the love of Desdemona, who defies social convention and her father’s will to marry him. But Othello’s ensign, Iago, harbours a secret resentment – and during a mission to Cyprus, he plants the seed that will destroy Othello’s love.

In a season built around a cluster of inter-connected themes, Othello is one example of how this year’s playbill becomes more than the sum of its parts.

“In assembling this season, I wanted to offer plays that reflect, complement and comment on each other,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “For instance, The Merchant of Venice and Othello are two very different plays, but both informed by the same themes – specifically, the role of the outsider. Each offers a fulfilling experience on its own, but those who see both productions will have a fuller opportunity to draw connections between them.

Othello is one of the great plays in the world – both for its language and its characters, and ultimately for what it has to say about overcoming our differences and how hard that can be. I am thrilled to have this production in the very capable hands of Chris Abraham, who has quickly become one of our principal directors. His work is always entertaining and his bold staging of this powerful production is no exception.”

The play features Graham Abbey as Iago, Bethany Jillard as Desdemona and Dion Johnstone as Othello, with Shauna Black as Bianca, Deborah Hay as Emilia, Brad Hodder as Cassio, Peter Hutt as Brabantio, Mike Shara as Roderigo and Brian Tree as Gratiano.

The artistic team features Designer Julie Fox, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Composer and Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne, Dramaturge Robert Blacker and Fight Director John Stead.

Othello Forum Highlights 

The Forum, the new festival within the Festival, is a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. Through debates, talks, concerts, comedy nights, hands-on workshops and more, The Forum offers theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

Othello will be explored through several Forum events, including: Honest Villains and Noble Killers: The Iago/Othello Character Dynamic, the second annual Stratford Festival symposium, in which leading artists and scholars express their views on the play; Othello vs Otello, in which Verdi aficionado John Zaretti of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan and Othello director Chris Abraham discuss the play and the operatic adaptation and their respective strengths and genius; and Sex and Love in Verona, Venice and Vienna, a talk by Stanley Wells, Honorary President, Life Trustee and former Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares.

Support for the inaugural season of The Forum is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Philip Hayman. Support for the Symposium is generously provided by Dr. Jules and Josephine Harris.

Othello officially opens on August 14 and runs until October 19. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Othello is sponsored by BMO Financial Group. Production support is generously provided by Larry Enkin & family in memory of Sharon Enkin and Martie & Bob Sachs.

Support for the 2013 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by the Birmingham Family.

The Festival’s new Toronto bus service, Stratford Direct, is now available twice daily on performance days for only $20 return. Reservations can be made through the box office.

Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill, along with more than 150 Forum events.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Iago……………………………………………         Graham Abbey
Understudy……………………………………         Sarah Afful
Ensemble………………………………………         Karl Ang
Bianca…………………………………………         Shauna Black
Montano…………….…………………………         Keith Dinicol
Ensemble………………………………………          Paul Duncan
Ensemble………………………………………          W. Shaw Forgeron
Ensemble………………………………………          Carmen Grant
Emilia…………………………………………          Deborah Hay
Cassio…………………………………………          Brad Hodder
Brabantio………………………………………         Peter Hutt
Desdemona……………………………………         Bethany Jillard
Othello…………………………………………         Dion Johnstone
Ensemble………………………………………         Ruby Joy
Ensemble………………………………………         Josue Laboucane
Gentleman #3………………………………….         Ian Lake
Lodovico………………………………………         Gareth Potter
Senator #1……………….…………………….         Christopher Prentice
Duke of Venice………………………………..         Stephen Russell
Roderigo………………………………………         Mike Shara
Gentleman #1………………………………….         E.B. Smith
Gratiano………………………………………..        Brian Tree
Ensemble………………………………………         Dylan Trowbridge

Artistic Credits

Director…………………………………………        Chris Abraham
Designer………………………………………..        Julie Fox
Lighting Designer………………………………        Michael Walton
Composer and Sound Designer………………..        Thomas Ryder Payne
Dramaturge…………………………………….        Robert Blacker
Fight Director………………………………….        John Stead
Producer……………………………………….         David Auster
Casting Director……………………………….         Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director…………………….        Jason Miller
Associate Fight Director……………………….        Geoff Scovell
Assistant Director………………………………        Andrea Donaldson
Assistant Set Designer…………………………        Devon Bhim
Assistant Costume Designer……………………        Kimberly Catton
Assistant Lighting Designer……………………       Jareth Li
Assistant Fight Director………………………..        Anita Nittoly
Fight Captain…………………………………..        Ian Lake
Stage Manager…………………………………        Anne Murphy
Assistant Stage Managers………………………        Michael Hart, Kristopher Weber
Apprentice Stage Manager…………………….        Kenilee Kehler
Production Assistant…………………………..         Katie Honek
Production Stage Manager…………………….        Julie Miles
Technical Director……………………………..         Elissa Horscroft

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for Othello:
http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=20300

Headshots:
http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14315

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Festival announces key casting for 2013

October 16, 2012… With the 2013 box office opening to Members in just a few weeks, the Stratford Festival is pleased to announce key casting for the 2013 season, featuring the return of many Festival favourites.

Jewelle Blackman, Michelle Giroux, Jonathan Goad, Kate Hennig, Dion Johnstone, Jeremy Kushnier, Mike Nadajewski, Paul Nolan, Stephen Ouimette, Steven Sutcliffe, Sara Topham and Scott Wentworth will be returning to the Festival in 2013, joining current company members Graham Abbey, Nigel Bennett, Michael Blake, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Jacquelyn French, Carmen Grant, Deborah Hay, Randy Hughson, Luke Humphrey, Peter Hutt, Keely Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Gabrielle Jones, Ian Lake, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Chick Reid, Tom Rooney, Steve Ross, Stephen Russell, Mike Shara, Jennifer Stewart, Brian Tree and Geraint Wyn Davies.

Also joining the company are newcomers Daniel Briere, Nehassaiu deGannes, Kira Guloien, Hannah Miller, Andre Morin and Robert Markus. As previously announced, Brian Bedford, Brian Dennehy and Martha Henry will also return in leading roles.

“At the heart of the Festival stand extraordinary artists,” says Antoni Cimolino, who will take over as Artistic Director on November 1. “I am immensely proud of the company we have assembled for the 2013 season, bringing together some of our finest actors as well as some exceptionally promising newcomers. We look forward to working with them to present the most exciting stories ever told.”

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham to play Romeo and Juliet

ROMEO AND JULIET | DIRECTED BY TIM CARROLL | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 1 | OPENS MAY 27 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SUN LIFE FINANCIAL
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: M. VAILE FAINER

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham will play the title characters in Tim Carroll’s production of Romeo and Juliet. They will be joined by Nehassaiu deGannes as Lady Capulet, Jonathan Goad as Mercutio, Kate Hennig as the Nurse, Tom McCamus as Friar Laurence and Scott Wentworth as Capulet.

Daniel Briere will make his Stratford debut as Romeo. A graduate of the National Theatre School, Mr. Briere has played such roles as Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew and Paris in Romeo and Juliet at Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park, Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing at Driftwood Theatre, Number One in Lebenstraum at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Art in The Mail Order Bride at the Blyth Festival.

Sara Topham will return for her 13th season to play Juliet. After her Stratford and Broadway turn as Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Ms Topham returned to Stratford in 2010 to play Wendy in Peter Pan and La Présidente de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons, followed by Olivia in Twelfth Night and Célimène in The Misanthrope in 2011. This past year has seen her in leading roles at the Hartford Stage Company, McCarter Theater Center and Shakespeare Theater Company.  Other key Stratford credits include Miss Mabel Chiltern in An Ideal Husband, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Grace Harkaway in London Assurance, Cordelia in King Lear and Rosalind in As You Like It.

Fiddler on the Roof to feature Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF | DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY DONNA FEORE | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START APRIL 23 | OPENS MAY 28 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION CO-SPONSOR: UNION GAS LIMITED
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: THE HARKINS FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SUSAN HARKINS

Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth will take the leading roles of Golde and Tevye in Donna Feore’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Jacquelyn French has been cast as Hodel, Keely Hutton as Chava, Gabrielle Jones as Yente, Andre Morin as Motel, Mike Nadajewski as Perchik, Paul Nolan as Fyedka and Jennifer Stewart as Tzeitel.

Kate Hennig, who is returning for her fourth season at Stratford, is well remembered for playing the dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, in Broadway’s Billy Elliot: The Musical, a role she also played in Toronto, winning a Dora Award for her performance. Most recently she was seen as Emma Goldman in this season’s Shaw Festival hit, Ragtime, as well as in A Man and Some Women. She was also in the wildly popular première of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Arts Centre. Ms Hennig was last in the Stratford company in 1991, playing Mrs. Mullin in Carousel, Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing and the Player Queen in Hamlet. She can currently be seen playing Adele Witham in Bomb Girls on Global Television.

Scott Wentworth, who marks his 18th season in 2013, was last seen at Stratford in 2008, playing Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán in Fuente Ovejuna and Claudius in Hamlet. His musical credits at Stratford include playing Clifford Bradshaw in the 1987 production of Cabaret and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in both 1990 and 2004 – a role he is currently reprising at the Segal Centre in Montreal. His other Stratford credits include the title roles in Macbeth, Richard III, Henry IV Part 1 and The Merchant of Venice, Iago in Othello, David Cutrere in Orpheus Descending and Theseus in Phèdre. Mr. Wentworth has also written a number of musicals in collaboration with his wife, Marion Adler, including Enter the Guardsman, which was nominated for an Olivier Award for best musical in 1997.

Musketeers Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Mike Shara joined by Luke Humphrey as D’Artagnan

THE THREE MUSKETEERS | DIRECTED BY MILES POTTER | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19

Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad and Mike Shara headline Miles Potter’s production of The Three Musketeers, with Luke Humphrey playing D’Artagnan. They will be joined by Michael Blake as Count de Rochefort, Nehassaiu deGannes as the Queen of France, Deborah Hay as Milady de Winter, Bethany Jillard as Constance Bonacieux and Steven Sutcliffe as Cardinal Richelieu.

Graham Abbey, who will play Athos, returned to the Festival in 2012 for the first time since 2006 to play Posthumus in Cymbeline and Aigisthos in Elektra. His extensive television career includes the series lead, Gray Jackson, in The Border, Glen Martin in Degrassi and George Thomey in Republic of Doyle. His Stratford credits include Henry V, Macbeth, Romeo and Henry VIII, as well as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Happy in Death of a Salesman and D’Artagnan in the 2000 production of The Three Musketeers.

Jonathan Goad will play Porthos. Mr. Goad was last seen at Stratford in 2009, playing Quarlous in Bartholomew Fair, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and Hippolytus in Phèdre. In 11 Stratford seasons, his credits have included Harold Hill in The Music Man, Iago in Othello, Angelo in Measure for Measure, Theseus and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title role in Pericles. Mr. Goad can also be seen on CBC TV, where he plays Christian Doyle in Republic of Doyle.

Luke Humphrey made his Stratford debut in 2010, appearing in The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. This season he played Michael Williams in Henry V. He will also be remembered as the shirtless tango dancer in Much Ado About Nothing. His other credits include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Highland Hall Theatre, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at the Stella Adler Studio.

Mike Shara will return for his fifth season at Stratford to play Aramis. Mr. Shara is currently playing Cloten in Cymbeline and Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker. His Stratford highlights include Teddy in The Homecoming, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. Mr. Shara is a veteran of the Shaw Festival and has performed across the country. His television work includes Little Mosque on the Prairie, Queer as Folk and Due South.

Tom McCamus to play the Merchant

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 30 | OPENS AUGUST 15 | CLOSES OCTOBER 18
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SCOTIABANK
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: CATHERINE & DAVID WILKES; JANE PETERSEN-BURFIELD & FAMILY; BARBARA & JOHN SCHUBERT

Tom McCamus will once again collaborate with Antoni Cimolino in next season’s The Merchant of Venice, in which he will play Antonio. Mr. McCamus gave a searing performance as Iachimo in Mr. Cimolino’s production of Cymbeline this year and beautifully portrayed Jim Casy in 2011’s The Grapes of Wrath and Justice Overdo in 2009’s Bartholomew Fair. His portrayal of Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker continues to delight audiences. In his 12 seasons at Stratford, Mr. McCamus has played a vast number of leading roles including Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, Master Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Arthur in Camelot, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

As previously announced, Brian Bedford will play Shylock. They will be joined by Michelle Giroux as Portia, Jonathan Goad as Gratiano and Hannah Miller as Jessica.

Stellar cast for Blithe Spirit features Ben Carlson, Michelle Giroux, Seana McKenna and Sara Topham

BLITHE SPIRIT | DIRECTED BY BRIAN BEDFORD | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 16 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: JOHN H. WHITESIDE; NONA MACDONALD HEASLIP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT FOR THE AVON THEATRE 2013 SEASON: THE BIRMINGHAM FAMILY

Brian Bedford will direct a stellar ensemble in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, with Ben Carlson as Charles Condomine; Michelle Giroux as Elvira, the ghost of Charles’s deceased wife; Seana McKenna as the medium, Madame Arcati; and Sara Topham as Charles’s second wife, Ruth. They will be joined by James Blendick as Dr. Bradman and Chick Reid as Mrs. Bradman. Mr. Bedford worked with Mr. Carlson and Ms Topham most recently in the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest in 2009.

Ben Carlson, currently playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Captain Fluellen in Henry V, returns for his sixth season at Stratford. Highlights of his time here include Feste in Twelfth Night, Alceste in The Misanthrope, 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. He has worked throughout Canada and the U.S., and spent 12 seasons at the Shaw Festival, where he is well remembered for his marathon Man and Superman, The Return of the Prodigal and All My Sons, among other performances.

Michelle Giroux will celebrate her 10th season at Stratford in 2013. She was last here in 2007, when she played Jean Louise in the celebrated production of To Kill a Mockingbird and Julia in A Delicate Balance. Her Stratford credits also include Queen Isabella in Edward II, Katerina in The Brothers Karamazov, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Daphne in Present Laughter, Olivia in Twelfth Night and Gwendolen in the 2000 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

After her hilarious turn as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker, Seana McKenna will return for her 22nd season to play Madame Arcati. Stratford audiences will also remember Ms McKenna’s lighter side from such performances as Amanda Prynne in Private Lives, Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Dotty Otley in Noises Off and Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance. Her other Stratford credits include her remarkable portrayals of Richard III in 2011 and Clytemestra in this season’s Elektra, as well as moving portrayals of Medea, Andromache and Phèdre. She has played every one of Shakespeare’s leading ladies, many of them here at Stratford, as well as his wife, Anne Hathaway, in the one-woman show Shakespeare’s Will, which was produced at Stratford in 2007 and 2011.

Newcomer Robert Markus to play Tommy

TOMMY | DIRECTED BY DES McANUFF | CHOREOGRAPHED BY WAYNE CILENTO | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 4 | OPENS MAY 30 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: RICHARD ROONEY & LAURA DINNER

Newcomer Robert Markus will play the title role in Des McAnuff’s production of Tommy. Mr. Markus graduated from the University of Alberta’s acting program in 2010. His credits include Gabe in Next to Normal at the Citadel Theatre and Theatre Calgary, Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show and Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, also at the Citadel, and Angelo in The Comedy of Errors at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival.

He will be joined by Jewelle Blackman as the Gypsy, Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker, Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker, Paul Nolan as Cousin Kevin and Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie.

Dion Johnstone takes title role in Othellowith Graham Abbey as Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona

OTHELLO | DIRECTED BY CHRIS ABRAHAM | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START AUGUST 4 | OPENS AUGUST 14 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: BMO FINANCIAL GROUP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: LARRY ENKIN & FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SHARON ENKIN;
MARTIE & BOB SACHS

Dion Johnstone will return to Stratford to take on the title role in Chris Abraham’s production of Othello, with Graham Abbey playing Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona. They will be joined by Deborah Hay as Emilia, Peter Hutt as Brabantio, Mike Shara as Roderigo and Brian Tree as Gratiano.

Dion Johnstone comes to the role of Othello at the Festival, having turned in a number of memorable classical performances here, including Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Caliban in The Tempest, opposite Christopher Plummer’s Prospero, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Des McAnuff’s production of Macbeth, Edmund in King Lear, Iachimo in the 2004 production of Cymbeline and Orestes in the 2003 productions of The Flies and Electra. He has a vast television career as well, most recently including Harold Kalb in The Listener, Tyrone Evans in King and Barnaby Howe in Flashpoint.

Bethany Jillard made her Stratford debut in 2010 as Cécile Volante in Dangerous Liaisons and has since shone in both classical and contemporary roles as Lady Anne in Richard III, Young Kate and Tanya in The Little Years, Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Catherine in Henry V. Her other credits include Miss Julie in the MTC Warehouse production of After Miss Julie, the title role in My Name is Rachel Corrie at Theatre Panik and Brooke in How It Works at Tarragon. She won the Equity Emerging Theatre Artist Award in 2010.

Seana McKenna plays Elizabeth to Lucy Peacock’s Mary Stuart

MARY STUART | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 3 | OPENS MAY 31 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. M.L. MYERS & DR. W.P. HAYMAN; ALICE & TIM THORNTON; DIANA TREMAIN; DR. DENNIS & DOROTHEA HACKER

Lucy Peacock will take on the title role in Antoni Cimolino’s production of Mary Stuart opposite Seana McKenna as Elizabeth.

It will feature Ben Carlson as Lord Burleigh, Geraint Wyn Davies as the Earl of Leicester and, as previously announced, Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury. James Blendick will play Amias Paulet, Peter Hutt will play Count Aubespine, Ian Lake will play Mortimer and Brian Tree will play Melvil.

Lucy Peacock celebrated her 25th season and 60th production with the Festival this season, playing the Hostess in Henry V and Mrs. Munsch in the new musical Wanderlust – as well as producing and starring in the cabaret series Late Night with Lucy. Last season she also combined musical theatre and Shakespeare, playing Morgan le Fey in Camelot and the delightfully scheming Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Her career at Stratford has been studded with brilliant performances, including Nana in For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Audrey in As You Like It, Masha in Three Sisters, Emilia in Othello, the title roles in The Duchess of Malfi and Hello, Dolly!, and a tour-de-force performance of all of the characters in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.

After his stirring portrayal of King Cymbeline, Geraint Wyn Davies will again collaborate with Mr. Cimolino, playing the key role of the Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart. Mr. Wyn Davies will celebrate his 10th season at Stratford in 2013. He began his Stratford adventure in 1986, playing Pericles and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys from Syracuse. Since then he has played a number of major roles, including Stephano in The Tempest, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the title roles in Julius Caesar and Henry V, Polonius in Hamlet, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady and Dylan Thomas in the one-man show Do Not Go Gentle. His stage career has taken him throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. and he has dozens of film and television credits, including key roles in Republic of Doyle, ReGenesis, 24, Slings and Arrows, Airwolf, Forever Knight and American Psycho II.

Measure for Measure to feature Carmen Grant, Stephen Ouimette,

Tom Rooney, Geraint Wyn Davies

MEASURE FOR MEASURE | DIRECTED BY MARTHA HENRY | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS MAY 29 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: RBC
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: KARON BALES & CHARLES BEALL

Martha Henry’s production of Measure for Measure will feature Carmen Grant as Isabella, Stephen Ouimette as Lucio, Tom Rooney as Angelo, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Duke Vincentio, with Randy Hughson as Pompey, Peter Hutt as Escalus and Stephen Russell as Provost.

Carmen Grant made her Stratford debut in 2010, after completing her first year at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, where she played such roles as Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Goneril in King Lear. At the Festival she has appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, The Matchmaker, Titus Andronicus and Richard III. She received a Dora nomination for her portrayal of the title role in The Miracle Worker at YPT and won the Rising Star Award for playing Ruth in the ATP production of Zadie’s Shoes.

Stephen Ouimette recently gave an acclaimed performance as Harry Hope in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. Mr. Ouimette and Mr. Dennehy had performed together at Stratford in 2011’s outstanding productions of The Homecoming and Twelfth Night. Mr. Ouimette was also featured in the West End and Broadway productions of La Bete and is well-known for his portrayal of Oliver Welles in the television series Slings and Arrows. He has spent 18 seasons entertaining Stratford audiences with such performances as Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest and Touchstone in As You Like It. He has directed a number of productions, including Timon of Athens in 2004, and has played the title roles in Hamlet, King John, Amadeus and Richard III, as well as many other leading roles.

Tom Rooney will return for his sixth Stratford season, after delighting audiences as Robert Service in the 2012 première of Wanderlust and as Ensign Pistol in Henry V. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Rooney has fast become a favourite on the Festival stage, 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.

Stephen Ouimette and Tom Rooney lead cast of Waiting for Godot

WAITING FOR GODOT | DIRECTED BY JENNIFER TARVER | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JUNE 13 | OPENS JUNE 27 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: SYLVIA D. CHROMINSKA

Jennifer Tarver’s production of Waiting for Godot will feature Stephen Ouimette as Estragon and Tom Rooney as Vladimir. As previously announced, Brian Dennehy will play Pozzo. Randy Hughson will play Lucky.

Lucy Peacock stars in Judith Thompson’s The Thrill

THE THRILL | DIRECTED BY DEAN GABOURIE | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 28 | OPENS AUGUST 13 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22

Lucy Peacock will play the leading role of Elora in the world première of Judith Thompson’s The Thrill, which was commissioned by the Festival and will be directed by Dean Gabourie. She will be joined by Nigel Bennett as Julian.

Luke Humphrey to take Shakespeare from Martha Henry

TAKING SHAKESPEARE | DIRECTED BY DIANA LEBLANC | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 13 | OPENS JULY 30 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. NANCY EPSTEIN & DR. DAVID GOLDBLOOM

As previously announced, Martha Henry will play the Prof in John Murrell’s new play Taking Shakespeare, directed by Diana Leblanc. Luke Humphrey has been cast as the student, Murph.

Tickets for the 2013 season will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11 and to the public on January 5. The 2012 season concludes on October 28, with tickets still available for Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street, The Matchmaker, The Pirates of Penzance and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Much Ado About Nothing begins previews at the Festival!

by Lisa Middleton

Much Ado About Nothing is Shakespearean comedy at its finest!  I had the great pleasure of attending the first preview of Much Ado yesterday, and it was positively enchanting.  Here are a few highlights of the show that I think you’ll enjoy… regardless of your age!

  • Real-life couple Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay bring their marital experience to the stage as the feuding Benedick and Beatrice. What are their thoughts about working together in these roles? Check out this great article from the Toronto Star. It is fabulous to watch the scornful Benedick and quick-witted Beatrice turn from enemies to lovers!
  • Beeeeautiful Brazilian-inspired costumes and set! Santo Loquasto’s design for the production is stunning. You can almost feel the sea breeze through the theatre. The stage floor really sets the mood (the 30-foot palm trees help, too)! Check out this fabulous time-lapse video as the stage floor is painted — two weeks of work narrowed down to three minutes!

  • Music and dance are blended into the production seamlessly. You’ll be swaying your hips as you leave the theatre – in keeping with the Brazilian flavour!
  • The cast for Much Ado is both large and talented! Here are just a few of the Festival favourites you can expect to see on stage!
    -Gareth Potter as Don John – both sinister and hilarious!
    -Bethany Jillard as the sweet and innocent Hero
    -James Blendick as Leonato – in his 29th Festival season!
    -Juan Chioran as the prince Don Pedro
    -Tyrone Savage as the impressionable and impassioned Claudio
    -Richard Binsley as Dogberry, detective extraordinaire!
    And so many more…

Pssst, we’re giving away 10 pairs of tickets to the 2 p.m. performance of Much Ado About Nothing on May 1, 2012!  Tell us why you’re looking forward to seeing this performance in the comment box below, and then send an e-mail socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca to confirm your submission (you must do both to be eligible to win).  We’ll announce the lucky winners on our blog on April 30, 2012 and contact them by e-mail with their tickets!

Press Release: Festival casts title roles for Henry V, Cymbeline, Elektra, The Best Brothers, Charlie Brown

As casting progresses for 2012, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce that the following actors will return for the 60th season: Sean Arbuckle, Richard Binsley, Skye Brandon, Laura Condlln, Naomi Costain, Randy Hughson, Peter Hutt, Robin Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Aaron Krohn, Ian Lake, Yanna McIntosh, Stephen Patterson, Gareth Potter, Cara Ricketts, Steve Ross, Andrea Runge, Tyrone Savage, E.B. Smith, John Vickery, and Geraint Wyn Davies. Joining the acting company in 2012 are: John Beale, Andrew Broderick, Daniel MacIvor, Erica Peck, Ken James Stewart, Amy Wallis and Kevin Yee.

As previously announced, Kyle Blair, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Cynthia Dale, Deborah Hay, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Tom Rooney and Mike Shara are also key players in the 2012 season.

Aaron Krohn to play Henry V

After making a memorable Stratford debut as Lenny in The Homecoming, Aaron Krohn will return in 2012 to play the title role in Henry V, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff. Mr. Krohn’s New York credits include The Farnsworth Invention, also directed by Mr. McAnuff, the Tom Stoppard works The Invention of Love and The Coast of Utopia and Shakespeare’s Henry IV. He was also a member of the ensemble in the Broadway production of Julius Caesar featuring Denzel Washington and Colm Feore. Mr. Krohn is well known for his voice acting in a number of popular anime productions, most notably Neon Genesis Evangelion.

As previously announced, Ben Carlson has been cast as Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Lucy Peacock as the Hostess and Tom Rooney as Pistol.

Geraint Wyn Davies to play Cymbeline

Geraint Wyn Davies, featured this year as Falstaff and King Arthur, will return for the 60th season to play the title role in Cymbeline, directed by General Director Antoni Cimolino. In eight seasons at Stratford, Mr. Wyn Davies has played a number of major roles, including Stephano in The Tempest, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the title roles in Julius Caesar, Henry V and Pericles, Polonius in Hamlet, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady and Dylan Thomas in the one-man show Do Not Go Gentle. His stage career has taken him throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. and he has dozens of film and television credits, including key roles in Republic of Doyle, ReGenesis, 24, Slings and Arrows, Airwolf, Forever Knight and American Psycho II.

Ian Lake will mark his fifth season with the Festival playing Arviragus in Cymbeline. This season Mr. Lake was seen as Joey in The Homecoming and the Second Officer in Twelfth Night. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, Mr. Lake has played a number of key roles at Stratford, including Silvius in As You Like It, Florizel in The Winter’s Tale, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Cara Ricketts marks her fourth season at Stratford playing Imogen in Cymbeline. This season Ms Ricketts was seen as Ruth in The Homecoming and Maria in Twelfth Night. Her other Stratford credits include Perdita in The Winter’s Tale, Portia in Julius Caesar and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms Ricketts has worked extensively in Toronto theatre as well as in film and TV.

After making his Stratford debut in 2011, Birmingham Conservatory member E.B. Smith will return to play Guiderius in Cymbeline. This season he played the Marquess of Dorset in Richard III and Alarbus in Titus Andronicus. Mr. Smith’s credits include Seyton in Macbeth and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, as well as work at the Cleveland Play House and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

John Vickery, seen in the title role of Titus Andronicus this season, will play Belarius in Cymbeline. This year he also played the Camp Proprietor and the Officer in Mr. Cimolino’s production of The Grapes of Wrath. Returning for his fifth season at Stratford, Mr. Vickery has appeared as Antonio in The Tempest, the Duke in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Ross in Macbeth, Comte de Guiche in Cyrano, Victor in Zastrozzi, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Lucius Septimius in Caesar and Cleopatra. His Broadway credits include the original Scar in The Lion King, The Real Thing, The Sisters Rosensweig and Macbeth.

As previously announced, Tom McCamus will play Iachimo in Cymbeline, in addition to Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker. Mike Shara will play Cloten, as well as Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker.

Yanna McIntosh to play Elektra

Yanna McIntosh will return for her eighth season to take on the title role in Elektra, directed by Thomas Moschopoulos, and to play the Queen in Cymbeline. This season she was seen as Queen Elizabeth in Richard III and Grace in The Little Years. Other Stratford credits include Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Lady Macbeth, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helen in The Trojan Women and Mme. Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. Ms McIntosh is a Dora and Gemini Award-winning actor, whose Toronto credits include Condoleeza Rice in Stuff Happens and the title roles in Mary Stuart, Hedda Gabler, and Belle.

Peter Hutt will play the Old Man in Elektra, after a season in which he was featured as Oronte in The Misanthrope and Muley and the Contractor in The Grapes of Wrath. In 12 seasons at Stratford, Mr. Hutt has been seen in such roles as Alonzo and Calilban in The Tempest, Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Macduff in Macbeth, William Shakespeare in Elizabeth Rex and Marcus Andronicus in Titus Andronicus.

The role of Chrysothemis in Elektra will be played by Laura Condlln and the role of Orestes will be played by Ian Lake. As previously announced, the role of Clytemestra will be played by Seana McKenna.

John Beale, Daniel MacIvor take on The Best Brothers

Daniel MacIvor’s new two-hander, The Best Brothers, will feature the playwright as Hamilton and John Beale as Kyle. The production will be directed by Dean Gabourie. Mr. Beale, who played Nurk in the world première of Mr. MacIvor’s play Bingo, comes to Stratford from his home base in Halifax, where his recent credits include Peggy and Manuel in The Peggy Show, Owen in Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, Wendell in Home, Swinburne in Brightest Red to Blue and Reverend John Hale in The Crucible, for which he received a Merrit Award.

Mr. MacIvor joins the Festival acting company for the first time in 2012. One of Canada’s leading playwrights, Mr. MacIvor is a recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, and has won several awards for his plays and films. He has written and performed in a number of solo shows, including House, Here Lies Henry, Monster and Cul de Sac. Most recently he directed the première of his play Bingo! for Forerunner Theatre in Halifax.

Key roles cast for The Matchmaker

Laura Condlln will return for her 11th season to play Irene Molloy in The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham. Ms Condlln, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, is currently playing Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor and also appeared in Richard III. Other highlights of her Stratford career include Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan, Polly in King of Thieves and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Geraint Wyn Davies will play Malachi Stack, in addition to the title role in Cymbeline.

Skye Brandon will return for his fourth season to play Ambrose Kemper in The Matchmaker. Mr. Brandon made his Stratford debut in 2009, when, as a member of the Birmingham Conservatory, he played Haggis and the Puppet Assistant in Bartholomew Fair, and Cinna in Julius Caesar. In 2010 he was seen as Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Dennis in As You Like It. This season he played the Duke of Norfolk in Richard III and Bassianus in Titus Andronicus.

Returning for a fourth season at Stratford, Andrea Runge will play Minnie Fay. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, Ms. Runge has taken on a number of key roles at the Festival, including Viola in Twelfth Night and Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Rosalind in As You Like It and Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Cara Ricketts will play Ermengarde, in addition to her role as Imogen in Cymbeline.

As previously announced, Tom McCamus will play Horace Vandergelder, Seana McKenna will play Dolly Levi and Mike Shara will play Cornelius Hackl.

Robin Hutton, Randy Hughson join cast of Wanderlust

Robin Hutton will return to the Festival for her fourth season to play the leading role of Louise in the new musical Wanderlust, opposite Tom Rooney’s Robert Service (as previously announced). The production will be directed by Morris Panych. Ms Hutton’s Stratford credits include Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!, Cinderella’s Stepmother in Into the Woods, and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof.

Randy Hughson will celebrate his fifth season at Stratford playing Mr. McGee in Wanderlust. He was seen this season as Uncle John in The Grapes of Wrath and the Host of the Garter Inn in The Merry Wives of Windsor. His other Stratford credits include Antigonus and Time in The Winter’s Tale, Corin in As You Like It and Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

As previously announced, Lucy Peacock will play Mrs. Munsch.

Three principals cast for Much Ado About Nothing

Richard Binsley, a company member in the 1980s, will return for the 60th season to play Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Christopher Newton. Mr. Binsley has worked at theatres across Canada and played Harry in both the Broadway and Toronto productions of Mamma Mia!. His recent stage credits include Bill in Having Hope at Home and Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie at the Globe Theatre, La Fontaine in Molière and Reinhard Wilke in Democracy at Tarragon Theatre.

Bethany Jillard will return for her third season to play Hero in Much Ado About Nothing. After making her Stratford debut playing Cécile Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons in 2010, Ms Jillard was seen this season as Lady Anne in Richard III and Young Kate and Tanya in The Little Years. Her other credits include Miss Julie in After Miss Julie at the MTC Warehouse, My Name is Rachel Corrie at Theatre PANIK and Brooke in How It Works at Tarragon Theatre.

Gareth Potter will play Don John, after taking on the title role in Hosanna and the Earl of Richmond in Richard III this year. His eight seasons at Stratford have included such roles as Ferdinand in The Tempest, Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Malcolm in Macbeth, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Nathaniel in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Edgar in King Lear, Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice, Pierrot in Don Juan and Cromwell in Henry VIII. Mr. Potter is a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory.

Birmingham Conservatory member Tyrone Savage will return to play Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. Mr. Savage made his Stratford debut this season playing Floyd in The Grapes of Wrath. His film and TV credits include Wind at My Back, Instant Star, American Pie: Beta House, Stoked and Goosebumps.

As previously announced, Ben Carlson will play Benedick and Deborah Hay will play Beatrice. The production will also feature James Blendick as Leonato and Juan Chioran as Don Pedro.

Full cast named for Charlie Brown

Stephen Patterson will return for his third season to play Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore. Seen this season in Jesus Christ Superstar and Camelot, Mr. Patterson made his Stratford debut in 2010 in As You Like It. Mr. Patterson played Marius in Les Misérables on Broadway and the U.S. national tour. His other credits include Laurie in Little Women (first U.S. national tour), Bobby Strong in Urinetown for Canadian Stage, Bob in White Christmas for the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Neptune Theatre, Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for Drayton and the North American Tour, and, also for Drayton, Che in Evita, Chris in Miss Saigon, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jeff in Brigadoon.

The role of Lucy will be played by Erica Peck. A vocal student of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ms Peck played Mary Maguire in the Really Useful Group/Mirvish production of The Boys in the Photograph. Her other recent credits include Scaramouche in the Mirvish production of We Will Rock You, Penny Pingleton in the C.F.T. production of Hairspray, and Julia in The Wedding Singer at Stage West.

Ken James Stewart will take on the title role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Mr. Stewart comes to Stratford from the Shaw Festival, where he has spent five seasons playing such roles as Mr. Pinsky in The President, Hegarty in Drama at Inish – A Comedy, the Student in One Touch of Venus and Jake in Serious Money.

Andrew Broderick will take on the role of Schroeder. A finalist in the second season of Canadian Idol, Mr. Broderick has played Gilbert in Hairspray, for both Rainbow Stage and the Charlottetown Festival. His other credits include Motown Gold at Stage West, The Producers at Stage West Calgary and Dreamgirls at The Grand Theatre.

Amy Wallis will make her Stratford debut as Sally. Twice nominated for Jessie Richardson Awards, Ms Wallis was seen most recently at Drayton, playing Willie Cagney in Cagney! and the Snow Fairy in Robin Hood. She played the title role in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival from 2006 to 2009, and during that same period played Belle in Beauty at the Beast at the Arts Club Theatre Festival on the country’s other coast.

Kevin Yee, currently on Broadway in Mary Poppins, will play Linus. His other credits include the Chicago and second national touring productions of Wicked, the Canadian production of Mamma Mia!, and Livent’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Key roles cast for The Pirates of Penzance and 42nd Street

Sean Arbuckle will play the Pirate King in the 2012 production of The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny. Seen this season as William Catesby in Richard III and Saturninus in Titus Andronicus, Mr. Arbuckle played Clifford Bradshaw in the 2008 production of Cabaret. Mr. Arbuckle’s credits in 10 seasons at Stratford include Tuzenbach in Three Sisters, Camillo in The Winter’s Tale, Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Dazzle in London Assurance and Théramène in Phèdre. He has performed extensively in New York, both on and off-Broadway, and has a number of film and TV credits to his name, including Anything But Love, Law & Order and Sex and the City.

Amy Wallis will play the leading role of Mabel Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, in addition to playing Sally in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

The production will also feature Steve Ross as the Sergeant of Police. Seen this year as John Rugby in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Noah in The Grapes of Wrath and Clitandre in The Misanthrope, Mr. Ross is also well remembered by audiences for his musical performances in Kiss Me, Kate, Evita, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha and Camelot. His other credits over eight seasons at Stratford include Ragueneau in Cyrano de Bergerac, Dromio of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors and Mr. Gilmer in To Kill a Mockingbird.

As previously announced, Kyle Blair will play Frederic.

Sean Arbuckle has also been cast as Julian Marsh in 42nd Street. He will be joined by Noami Costain, who will play Anytime Annie. Ms Costain is returning for her seventh season, having appeared in Kiss Me, Kate, Evita, Cabaret, My One and Only, Oklahoma!, Don Juan, Oliver!, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gigi, The Threepenny Opera and My Fair Lady.

As previously announced, Kyle Blair will play Billy Lawlor and Cynthia Dale will play Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street.

Funding for the 2012 season has been provided by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.