Backstage at the Festival – Part II!

by Lisa Middleton

AHOY, MATEY!  Cap’n Lisa Middleton here fer’yer backstage voyage – part two!

Earlier this season we took you on a backstage tour of the Festival Theatre, if you missed the first part of the tour catch up here. It’s time to finish the tour, so let’s pick up where we left off…

The bijoux room! We have an incredibly talented group of people working to create all of the beautiful jewelry and ornamentation that you see on stage – from earrings, to rings, to necklaces, to the fine details that you see on hats, gloves and hairpieces!

And we have just about everything a girl could wish for when it comes to earrings!

Gigantic ring, anyone? And believe me, there are lots more!

Sorry. Button break! Let’s move on!

One of my favourite places backstage is the millinery room! When we say that we do it all here in Stratford, we really mean it! From the heels of the boots to the feathers on top of the hats, we’re making it all in-house – sized to fit!

Do you recognize these hats from Pirates and 42nd Street ?

I tried my hand in the dye room – a vat of vino? Nope, we’re cooking t-shirts today!

And the finished product:

 See if you can recognize any of the shoes from our 2012 season in the photos below:

I thought I would try making a pair of shoes… they kicked me out pretty quickly!

Gorgeous…  When can they custom-make me a pair?

Let’s move back to the prop shop!

So lifelike – and yet, no odour!

Served on a silver platter twice weekly at the Harmonia Gardens Hotel, on the set of The Matchmaker!
 If only this were made of actual silver.  Then I’d be in the money!

Our properties assistants are amazing at making something that looks very heavy feel very light! Ahhh, the magic of theatre!

The ladies of 42nd Street are oh-so syncrohnized in the “Dames” scene!  Me, not so much.
Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “a pat on the back.”

These shields from Cymbeline are built for battle – and they’re heavy. Kudos to the actors who carry them!

One of my favourite props from the season is this steampunk-inspired “boat” from The Pirates of Penzance!

And that brings us to end of the tour – and the end for this unfortunate fellow, as well!
Thanks for joining me backstage at the Festival! Don’t forget to come see all of these amazing pieces on stage before they’re gone forever!

Have you been backstage at the Festival before?

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Come fall in love with Cymbeline | 3 performances added

by Christi Rutledge

One of the last plays Shakespeare penned before his passing was Cymbeline, a stunning romance filled with dense, rich language and seemingly impossible twists of fate. It has a little bit of everything in it— love, war, dreams, betrayal and, most enchantingly, resolution and forgiveness. There is something magical about the final works of a playwright, and Shakespeare certainly gave us magic in Cymbeline, which feels beautifully personal.

In case you haven’t had a chance to see Cymbeline yet, here’s a sneak peek:

This production, helmed by our General Director and Artistic Director designate, Antoni Cimolino, has captivated audiences since it began previews. Critics, Shakespeare lovers and newbies have all raved about it. Most recently, New York Times theatre critic Charles Isherwood wrote this glowing review of our Shakespeare productions, including Cymbeline.

Come and escape into a Shakespearean dream with us! Cymbeline is a gorgeous play that should not be missed – especially when the cast features Cara Ricketts, Graham Abbey, Tom McCamus, Geraint Wyn Davies, Nigel Bennett, IanLake, Yanna McIntosh, Mike Shara, E.B. Smith, Brian Tree and John Vickery.

Because most performances are sold out or nearly sold out, we’ve added three more shows to Cymbeline’s run: October 3 at 2:00 p.m., October 5 at 2:00 p.m. and October 6 at 8:00 p.m. These seats won’t last, so book yours now to experience this spectacular production!

Photo credits: Foreground: Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Geraint Wyn Davies (centre) as Cymbeline and Mike Shara as Cloten with Brad Hodder and Naomi Wright (background) in Cymbeline. Photo by David Hou.

Cymbeline to be extended to October 6

August 28, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is extending the run of its critically acclaimed production of Cymbeline, directed by Antoni Cimolino, General Director and Artistic Director designate.

Because of exceptional demand, the following performances have been added to the schedule:

  • Wednesday, October 3, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, October 5, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 6, at 8 p.m.

“I welcomed the opportunity to direct Cymbeline because it is a play that resonates with me personally,” says Mr. Cimolino. “It has been most gratifying to see how it has touched the hearts of our audiences. Though fashioned as a magical fairy tale, it nonetheless has universal appeal with its themes of loss, reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Cymbeline has something for everyone: suspense, humour, fantasy and lively action, all couched in some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful language,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “I am delighted that Antoni’s thrilling production has caught the imagination of audiences and hope that it will help bring this wonderful play to broader attention.”

Cymbeline features Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen and Geraint Wyn Davies as King Cymbeline, with Nigel Bennett as Caius Lucius, Ian Lake as Arviragus, Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Mike Shara as Cloten, E.B Smith as Guiderius, Brian Tree as Pisanio and John Vickery as Belarius.

Production support for Cymbeline is generously provided by Barbara and John Schubert and Diana Tremain.

Tickets for are available through the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or online at www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street, The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; The Best Brothers; and Hirsch. A Word or Two, The War of 1812 and MacHomer have concluded their runs.

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Festival marks anniversary with opening of Henry V

July 9, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival continues to mark its 60th season this week with the world premières of three Canadian plays and the opening of Artistic Director Des McAnuff’s production of Henry V. The Festival has been heralded recently throughout North America as a top destination for travel and culture, giving it even more reason to celebrate.

Henry V, featuring Aaron Krohn in the title role, will open on Friday, July 13, the Festival’s anniversary. Wednesday sees the opening of Wanderlust, a new musical commissioned by the Festival from Morris Panych and Marek Norman, based on the poetry of Robert Service. Daniel MacIvor’s new play The Best Brothers, workshopped at the Festival and directed by Associate Artistic Director Dean Gabourie, opens Thursday afternoon, followed that evening by Hirsch, which celebrates the life and career of former Artistic Director John Hirsch. Developed at Stratford over the past three years, Hirsch was created and conceived by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson.

“One of my proudest achievements at the Festival is to have mounted a celebratory 60th season that features Canadian works in such abundance,” says Mr. McAnuff, who concludes his tenure as Artistic Director at the end of 2012 and was recently appointed to the Order of Canada. “Fully 50 per cent of the productions on our playbill this year are written by Canadians. They represent an enormous range of dramatic genres, showcasing the talent that has developed in Canada’s rich theatrical landscape since the founding of the Festival 60 years ago.”

“This second round of openings heralds the beginning of the summer season in Stratford,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino, who has been named the Festival’s next Artistic Director. “We have recently been showcased as a top destination by a number of influential media outlets, establishing even further the appeal of this idyllic city. We hope people recognize what an ideal vacation spot Stratford is and include a visit to the Festival in their holiday plans. This year’s productions have won critical acclaim across the board and have been delighting audiences since the season began in April.”

Inspired by the success of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, The New York Times visited Stratford this spring and trumpeted the joys of the city and the Festival in its travel section in June. NPR (National Public Radio) in the U.S. has chosen to include Stratford in a feature of five significant cultural destinations in North America, the only one in Canada. Frommer’s included Stratford as a Top 10 Canadian Summer Vacation Destination; Reader’s Digest featured Stratford in its Top 10 Canadian Road Trips; and Trip Advisor named Stratford one of Canada’s Top 10 Cultural Destinations. Stratford has also been chosen as an iconic Canadian experience for travel writer Robin Esrock’s upcoming book The Great Canadian Bucket List.

Next to open this season is A Word or Two, written, arranged and performed by Christopher Plummer, which is being presented as a special 60th season event. Directed by Mr. McAnuff, the production, which begins previews on July 25 and opens August 2, is an autobiographical journey through the literature that has stirred the actor’s imagination since youth. Mr. Plummer, who this year won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in the film Beginners, is one of the Festival’s most lauded alumni, first appearing at Stratford in 1956 in the title role of Henry V. This will be the third collaboration between Mr. Plummer and Mr. McAnuff at the Festival; their first two projects, Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Mr. Plummer played Julius Caesar, and The Tempest, in which he played Prospero, have also been captured on film for cinematic release.

The season’s final offering, Sophokles’ Elektra, translated by Canadian poet Anne Carson, will open August 11, featuring Yanna McIntosh in the title role and Seana McKenna as Clytemestra.

In addition to Henry V, the season features two other Shakespeares – Cymbeline, directed by Mr. Cimolino, which is being praised as one of the finest ever productions of this challenging classic, and Much Ado About Nothing. Three musicals are also on stage – 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – as well as Thornton Wilder’s comedy The Matchmaker, which is being hailed as the feel-good show of the year. The War of 1812, by Canadian playwright Michael Hollingsworth, opened on Canada Day, and MacHomer, created and performed by Rick Miller, enjoyed a limited engagement at Stratford in May.

The Festival marked its 60th season by publishing Stratford Behind the Scenes, a full-colour book that reveals the complexities of season planning and captures the superb artistry carried out by the Festival’s costumes, props, sets and wigs departments. An ebook of Stratford Behind the Scenes will be launched this summer.

An archival exhibition, Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, is open to the public daily at 104 Downie Street, across from the Avon Theatre. It features costumes, unique artefacts and props, plus rare footage and new interviews with key players in the Festival’s history

Since its founding 60 years ago, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival has welcomed more than 25 million visitors. Originally conceived as an economic stimulus for the community, the Festival now generates about $140 million in economic activity annually. It employs 1,000 people and creates 3,000 full-year jobs.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28. To purchase tickets, visit www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com or call 1.800.567.1600.

ADVISORY | Festival adds two new Cymbeline performances

June 13, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is adding two new performances of Shakespeare’s romance Cymbeline, to meet demand for this production, which has received overwhelmingly positive response from critics and audiences since it began previews on May 10.

The two additional shows will be held on the following days:

  • Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 29 at 8 p.m.

Directed by General Director Antoni Cimolino Cymbeline tells the story of Innogen, the remarkable daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, who has married against her father’s wishes. Banished by Cymbeline, Innogen’s “poor but worthy” husband, Posthumus, finds refuge in Italy, where the villainous Iachimo tricks him into believing that his new wife has been unfaithful. Flying into a jealous rage, Posthumus orders his servant, Pisanio, to kill Innogen; instead, however, Pisanio helps Innogen undertake a harrowing journey to reunite with her husband and win back his love.

The play features Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen and Geraint Wyn Davies as King Cymbeline, with Nigel Bennett as Caius Lucius, Ian Lake as Arviragus, Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Mike Shara as Cloten, E.B Smith as Guiderius, Brian Tree as Pisanio and John Vickery as Belarius.

Tickets are on sale now.  To order contact the Box Office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

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Opening week in review!

by Christi Rutledge

Opening week has flown by, but not without a lot of hard work and celebration! If you weren’t able to make it out, or haven’t had a chance to crack open a newspaper, here’s a bit of what you missed!

Monday: Opening Night – Much Ado About Nothing
There is always an extra special buzz of excitement in the air on opening night (perhaps it’s the bagpipers :)). The pomp and circumstance, the glamour and the sense of anticipation all make your skin tingle. If you weren’t able to be there for the opening of our 60th season, or if you want to take it in again, here are some highlights from the evening.

Opening Night Red Carpet Live Stream

What were people saying about Much Ado About Nothing
“Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay are brilliant together” – Twitter

“Much Ado is a must see! For brevity’s sake let it suffice to say the star studded cast pays tribute to the vast depth of this great company.” – Facebook

“Tears of laughter, sadness and joy… it’s hard to ask for much more from a night at the theatre.” -Kelly Nestruck, THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Check out some of these beautiful production photos!

Tuesday: 42nd Street

All that glitters is theatrical gold in 42nd Street! Here’s what you had to say about this dazzling tap musical!

“We were blown away by 42nd Street!! Awesome production!” – Facebook

“I smiled through the entire show! Cannot recommend #ssf42nd highly enough. Entire cast were amazing!” – Twitter

Wednesday: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

It’s hard not to smile when you’re watching Charlie Brown. This show is the entire cast’s Stratford début (with the exception of Stephen Patterson) and boy, did they rock it!

Here is the cast of Charlie Brown singing “Beethoven Day” (#SQUEE, seriously!)

“@stratfest I laughed so hard during #ssfCharlie I cried. Tears. Pouring down my face. Brilliantly done. Also: best Snoopy ever. Thanks!” – Twitter

“LOVED Charlie Brown last night 🙂 I usually just see the Shakespearean productions but this was such a treat . I am going to recommend it to everyone!” – Facebook

Thursday: Cymbeline

The rarely staged Cymbeline opened to rave reviews from critics and fans alike. This beautiful late Shakespearean romance stole my heart from the first line – don’t miss seeing it at the Tom Patterson Theatre!

View more production photos from Cymbeline here!

This is what you thought of Cymbeline

“#ssfCymbeline a moving, funny, beautifully staged production. The actors are inspiring, reminds me why I want to be one. Get your tickets!” – Twitter

“Just left the theatre after seeing Cymbeline. WOW! Loved it!” – Facebook

Friday: The Pirates of Penzance

The beloved Gilbert and Sullivan made a fabulous, splashy reappearance on Friday night at the Avon Theatre. I couldn’t wait to see this personal favourite of mine on opening night! If you’re into fabulous music, comedy, steampunk design and magnificent casting (and really, who isn’t) you’re going to loooove this show!

Here’s a bit of what you can expect to see on stage:

More of your reviews from Pirates!
“I saw [The] Pirates of Penzance today and it was PHENOMENAL!!! It was the first play I’ve ever seen and my mum and I were fortunate enough to get seats 2nd row from the front. I’ve heard amazing things about the Festival but what I experienced today went WELLLLLL above and beyond my expectations. I will absolutely go back and bring all my friends and family with me!!” – Facebook

“#SSFPIRATES of PENZANCE is a GLORIOUS thing! See it now so you’ll have time to see it again & again b/c it’s extraordinary!” – Twitter

Saturday: The Matchmaker

On Saturday afternoon we launched our beautiful 60th season book, Stratford Behind the Scenes. If you haven’t had a chance to peruse it yet, you need to! Stratford Behind the Scenes explores the process of building a season, from choosing the playbill to set construction to performance. Filled with interviews, observations and breathtaking full-colour photography, this new coffee-table book will lead readers on a fascinating journey into corners of the Festival seldom seen by members of the public. Keep watching for the interactive digital version of this book filled with exclusive video footage from behind the scenes!

From the launch we were off to our last opening (at least for this month!), The Matchmaker. It has been a long time since I’ve heard an audience laugh like they did during this performance. I had read the patron reviews, so I knew The Matchmaker would be amazing, but you really have to see it to understand how good it is!

Here’s a sneak peek at this show! (Seana McKenna and Tom McCamus together on stage – perfection!)

More patron reviews from The Matchmaker!
“The Matchmaker is one of the best productions we’ve seen at the Festival, and we’ve see a lot! ” – Facebook

“I saw “The Matchmaker” on Friday night and it really should be on everyone’s must-see list this summer. The whole thing just sparkles with wit and humour!” – Facebook

“@stratfest LOVED #ssfMatchmaker was hilarious, definitely taking more friends & family 2 see it and it is an excuse to go again!!” – Twitter

I’m not sure whether to cheer or cry – perhaps a bit of both! Opening week is always a highlight for me, so it’s sad to see it end, but it’s also exciting to have the season in full swing!

Do you have any favourite opening week moments? Let us know in the comment box below!

Happy 448th birthday, Shakespeare!

by Christi Rutledge

Monday, April 23, marks the date of Shakespeare’s birth! Interestingly, it also marks the date of his passing, 396 years ago (poetic to the very end). What better way to celebrate the Bard’s life than planning a trip to see some of his masterful work on stage!

We’re offering you a special 24-hour birthday promotion. You can attend all preview performances of Much Ado About Nothing, Cymbeline and Henry Vplaying April through June – for just $29!* This awesome birthday deal is only available online on April 23 from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. Be sure to use promotion code 43284!

Here are our preview performance dates:

Much Ado About Nothing:
April 26, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 1, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 4, 2012, 8:00 p.m.
May 8, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 11, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 14, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 17, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 22, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 26, 2012, 1:00 p.m.

Cymbeline:

May 10, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 11, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 15, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 18, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 22, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 24, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
May 26, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
May 29, 2012, 2:00 p.m.

Henry V:
June 24, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
June 26, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
June 28, 2012, 8:00 p.m.
June 30, 2012, 8:00 p.m.

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?  Share your favourite tradition with us in the comment box below and you and a friend could win a pair of tickets to any of performances listed in this post!  We’ll announce the winner on April 23, 2012 by 9:30 a.m. on our blog – be sure to check back!

*Promotion is only available from April 23, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. until April 23, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. and may expire without notice. Offer not available in conjunction with any other promotions including MMP performances. Only available online in A, B and C seating zones.