A Pinballapalooza Adventure | Jr. Guest Blogger Adam Leung

by Adam Leung

On May 16, my Grade 6 class from Runnymede Public School made the journey via subway to First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto to participate in Pinballapalooza. Pinballapalooza was an event organized by the Stratford Festival to promote this season’s production of Tommy. Since a big part of the play revolves around pinball, it made sense to use pinball, and Pinballapalooza, to promote Tommy.


When we arrived at First Canadian Place, it didn’t look like anything major was happening on the outside, but when you entered the building you could see that Pinballapalooza was there because of all of the signs advertising Tommy and the pinball machine sounds coming from the lobby. Once we were inside you couldn’t miss it as the pinball machines stuck out like a sore thumb in First Canadian Place. It was very intense and there were a hundred pinball machines being used at once. Everyone was paying so much attention to their pinball machines that you rarely ever heard people talking. All you could hear was the dinging of the pinball machines and clicking of the flippers. There were all kinds of pinball machines there with the themes from Lord of the Rings and Avengers to Metallica, Spider-man, AC/DC, The Simpsons and Avatar, to name just a few.

Just before they attempted (and succeeded in) the world record for the most people playing pinball at the same time, there was a preview concert where the main actors performed some of the songs from Tommy, such as “Pinball Wizard.” A lot of the kids in my class really like The Who, so they were very excited to go and listen to the songs – especially my friend Jack and my teacher, Mlle. Walker. Before the concert, they had even taken the time to install a few rock concert-style lights that flashed and spun while the musicians played.

Once it was time to go, everyone in my class was disappointed since we all wanted more time with the pinball machines. The event itself was really fun but I’m just glad that I wasn’t part of the setup crew that had to carry all those pinball machines in and out of First Canadian Place!

A special thanks to the Stratford Festival for inviting my class to Pinballapalooza and to my teacher, who organized the excursion and let my class go to Pinballapalooza!

12-year-old guest blogger and theatre enthusiast, Adam Leung, joined us for Pinballapolooza in Toronto with his Grade 6 class on May 16. Stay tuned for Adam’s reviews of Romeo and Juliet and Fiddler on the Roof.

Enjoy other blogs by Adam here.


Stratford Festival achieves a new GUlNNESS WORLD RECORDS™ goal at Pinballapalooza

May 17, 2013… The Stratford Festival is officially home of one of the newest GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS. One hundred “pinball wizards” took over First Canadian Place in Toronto yesterday to successfully log the greatest number of pinball machines being played simultaneously at a single venue.
At 12:40 p.m., participants synchronically launched their silver balls and played one complete game as hundreds of onlookers cheered from the sidelines. The record was made official by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS adjudicator Philip Robertson.
An exciting event to celebrate the opening of the Festival’s much-anticipated rock musical, Tommy, Pinballapalooza also featured spectacular performances by Tommy cast members Robert MarkusPaul NolanGabriel Antonacci and Matthew Armet.
Tommy is the biggest musical we have ever mounted in Stratford,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “and what better way to celebrate it than by throwing a larger-than-life pinball tournament that would impress even Tommy, the pinball wizard himself.
“It was very rewarding to see so many people come out in support of this event. Whether they came to play pinball, to catch a sneak peek at our sensational production or just to be a part of history, it was a fun opportunity to showcase our theatre to a wider audience.”
For those who could not attend, the Festival offers two other opportunities to practise your pinball moves: a Tommy-inspired pinball machine found at different locations in Stratford throughout the season and a virtual pinball game at tommypinball.com.
Based on The Who’s 1969 concept album of the same name, Tommy tells the story of a young man who, despite having lost the faculties of speech, sight and hearing, becomes a pinball virtuoso – and the centre of a celebrity cult. In a new production helmed by its original Tony Award-winning director, Des McAnuff (who co-wrote the show with The Who’s Pete Townshend), the explosive rock opera features such unforgettable hits as “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Acid Queen” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
The production features Robert Markus as Tommy, 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.
Choreographer Wayne Cilento, Set Designer John Arnone, Costume DesignerDavid C. Woolard and Fight Director Steve Rankin, key members of the original creative team, have reunited for this production to join Musical Director and Supervisor Rick Fox, Lighting Designer Howell Binkley, Sound Designer Andrew Keister, and Projection Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis.
Tommy officially opens on May 30 and runs until October 19. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit http://www.stratfordfestival.ca.
Tommy is sponsored by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Production support is generously provided by Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner and by the Ontario government.
Support for the 2013 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by the Birmingham Family.
Stratford Direct, the new daily return private bus service between Toronto and Stratford, began May 1. Departing once daily from May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20 and twice daily from May 27 to September 29 (on performance days only), the round trip costs only $20.
Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundhill 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.
Welcome to Pinballapalooza – http://bit.ly/104rSAN 
What’s your pinball name? – http://bit.ly/12En2MA
Guinness World Record attempt – http://bit.ly/12EN7Lt
Game over? – http://bit.ly/1054eUP

Des McAnuff invested into Order of Canada

May 3, 2013… Des McAnuff was invested into the Order of Canada at a ceremony presided over by the Governor General in Ottawa this morning. The Stratford Festival extends heartiest congratulations to Mr. McAnuff, who was Artistic Director from 2008 through 2012, and is currently directing Tommy, a musical based on the album by The Who, which he helped composer-lyricist Pete Townshend create.
The country’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.
Mr. McAnuff’s citation is as follows:
Des McAnuff, C.M.
Stratford, Ontario
Des McAnuff has made outstanding contributions to the arts. An accomplished director of Shakespeare, opera and musical theatre, as well as a writer and composer, he has been the creative force behind such award-winning productions as the Broadway hits Jersey Boys and The Who’s Tommy. He has also distinguished himself as the artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where he has created opportunities for Canadian playwrights and has cultivated the talents of Canadian directors and actors.
“On behalf of all of us at the Festival, I congratulate Des on this richly deserved honour,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “His outstanding accomplishments, both here in Canada and on the world stage, have given this country much to be proud of, and I am delighted to see them recognized in this most befitting manner.
“We are very fortunate to have Des with us at the Festival again this season, directing his spectacular rock musical Tommy, on the 20th anniversary of its Broadway première. Tommy swept the Tony Awards in 1993. Des was recognized as Best Director of a Musical, and the members of his creative team – most of whom are with us for this production – were similarly honoured, as was Mr. Townshend for his score. At the time Tommy was the most technologically advanced musical Broadway had ever seen. And tomorrow, when Tommy blows the roof off the Avon Theatre at its first preview, audiences will see an even bigger vision realized by this great director.”
Last year theatregoers were delighted by Mr. McAnuff’s productions of Henry V andA Word or Two, a new work written, arranged and performed by Christopher Plummer. At the conclusion of the season, Mr. McAnuff returned to La Jolla Playhouse in California to première another remarkable new musical, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which he co-created with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
In 2011 Mr. McAnuff directed the Festival’s celebrated production of Twelfth Nightstarring Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette, which was also filmed for release in cinemas. His acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar opened on Broadway in March 2012, after enjoying an extended run at Stratford and then at La Jolla Playhouse.
Also that year, Mr. McAnuff opened the second North American tour of Jersey Boysin Philadelphia. He directed a new musical production of Doctor Zhivago, which played in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia, and then in Seoul with an all-Korean cast. He directed Gounod’s Faust for the Metropolitan Opera starring Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape and Marina Poplavskaya. This production was filmed and shown in cinemas worldwide. His Stratford production of The Tempest, starring Christopher Plummer, was also released in cinemas in the U.S. and Canada, as was his production of Caesar and Cleopatra, with Mr. Plummer, in 2009.
During his tenure as Artistic Director, Mr. McAnuff worked to reaffirm the Festival’s status as a leading international institution, where the great Canadian masters of theatre stand shoulder to shoulder with acclaimed actors and directors from beyond Canada’s borders. He built a diverse company that more truly reflects the ethnic makeup of the Canada we live in today, with outstanding actors of colour constituting a significant proportion of the company.
He created new opportunities for the Festival to cultivate young talent through the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, which since 2010 has given more than 25 emerging Canadian directors an unparalleled opportunity to develop their skills.
He also increased the Festival’s commitment to the commissioning, development and production of new Canadian drama. Through the annual Playwrights Retreat, established in 2008, and a series of other residencies, he made the Festival a natural home for Canadian playwrights, with more than 60 playwrights participating in these programs. In addition, roughly a dozen playwrights were commissioned during Mr. McAnuff’s tenure. 
Mr. McAnuff, who is a two-time Tony, Olivier and Dora award-winning director, received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Ryerson University, in 2011, and was presented with the Governor General’s Performing Arts NAC Award last year.

Sweet savings for you and your Valentine – BOGO!

Sweet SavingsForget about chocolate and teddy bears and surprise your Valentine with an unforgettable experience – a trip to the theatre! We’ve got a sweet deal for you and your beloved this Valentine’s Day: when you buy one regular-priced ticket to any performance of Romeo and Juliet or Tommy during May or June (excluding openings), we’ll give you the second one free!*

All of you true romantics will want to indulge in the greatest
love story ever told – Romeo and Juliet. Helmed by critically acclaimed director Tim Carroll, this production promises to be one show that will be a must-see! The role of Juliet will be played by Festival favourite Sara Topham, who’ll appear alongside tall, dark and handsome Festival newcomer Daniel Briere as Romeo.

If a classic rock musical is more your style, join us for Tommy – a rock opera based on the The Who’s album by the same name.  Former Artistic Director Des McAnuff – who co-wrote the book for Tommy with Pete Townshend and directed the Tony-Award winning Broadway production in 1993 – will be back to direct this amazing show. Tickets won’t last long!

If you’re a romantic rocker, don’t feel forced to choose – join us for both Tommy and Romeo and Juliet! Variety is the spice of life!

Here’s all the information you need to know to take advantage of this limited-time promotion!

1) Using Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page, select any performance of Romeo and Juliet and/or Tommy during May or June (excluding opening performances)

2) In the “Have a Promo” box, enter promotion code 47364 and click “Apply”

3) Select your seats and check out!

This sweet deal is only available until February 14, so don’t delay! Your valentine will thank you!

* Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances.  Offer not available in A+ seating category and is only available until February 14, 2013. Promotion only applies to adult pricing. May not be combined with any other offers.  Only available through Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page only. Promotion excludes opening night performances of Romeo and Juliet and Tommy.


A big $20.12 thank you!

We’ve had a fabulous time celebrating our 60th season with all of our social media followers, and we want to mark the season’s end with a special “thank you” event. We love engaging with you on a daily basis – listening to your reviews and suggestions, talking about theatre with you, and sharing unique and interesting Festival content. Your involvement with us has helped to make this season a spectacular success.

Join us on October 25, from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., in the Festival Theatre Marquee for a special end-of-season reception hosted by our Director of Marketing and Audience Development, Lisa Middleton (@stratfest), and our Social Marketing Coordinator, Christi Rutledge (@stratfestchris). We’ll have delicious desserts, made by our Greenroom chef, for you to enjoy along with coffee and tea – and there’ll be a cash bar too. After the reception, enjoy a performance of our critically acclaimed production of The Matchmaker for only $20.12!*

We’d love to see you in person one last time before the season closes and the snow falls – and at this price you can afford to bring a friend or two as well. If you’d like to attend and get a final Festival fix before 2013, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Log into our website (or create an account and log in) with promotion code 46255.
  2. Select the October 25 performance of The Matchmaker from the calendar.
  3. Select Social Media Thank You Night as the price type.
  4. Select your own seats and complete your checkout.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you, reminiscing about our 2012 season and sharing a bit of information about 2013!

Pssst – don’t forget that Seana McKenna will be joining us for a Facebook Q&A on October 12 from 10 a.m. until noon!

View more photos from The Matchmaker here!

*Price covers admission to the pre-show reception as well as your theatre ticket. Valid only for the October 25 performance of The Matchmaker in A, B or C seating categories. Available online and through Stratford Social Ticketing only. Some conditions apply.


MEDIA ADVISORY | Coming events in Toronto, Detroit, Montreal

October 3, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival will be hosting or participating in a number of events over the coming weeks, including the following:

Wednesday, October 10
Twelfth Night screenings
Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival will be doing two screenings of the 2011 film of Twelfth Night, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Ben Carlson, Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette. An afternoon screening is for invited students and teachers from the Regent Park area. It will be preceded by a workshop with two actors from the production, Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara, and followed by a question and answer period. An evening screening will be open to the public and will also be followed by a Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara.


11:30 a.m. Pre-film workshop for students with Cara Ricketts, Mike Shara and Andrea Jackson

12:30 p.m. Screening of Twelfth Night for students from schools in the Regent Park area.

3:15 p.m. Post-film Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara

7 p.m. Public screening of Twelfth Night

9:45 p.m. Post-film Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara

Sunday, October 14, at 3:30 p.m.
Stratford Presents: Twelfth Night
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater

The Festival presents a screening of the 2011 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Ben Carlson, Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette.

Tickets and information: http://www.dia.org/auxiliaries/event.aspx?id=3408&iid=&aux_id=14&cid=100

Thursday, October 25, at 5:30 p.m.
McGill Shakespeare Lecture
Leacock Building, Room 232, McGill University, Montreal

Lucy Peacock will deliver an address titled Work, Prayer, Carnival: My Journey with Shakespeare. Introduction by Prof. Paul Yachnin.

Sunday, November 11, at 2 p.m.
Stratford Presents: The Tempest
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater

The Festival presents a screening of the 2010 production of The Tempest, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Christopher Plummer as Prospero.

Tickets and information: