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.

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Happy Birthday, Frederic!

By: Lisa Middleton

If any of you know the story of The Pirates of Penzance, you’ll know that February 29 is a very important date in the show! Frederic, one of the title characters, was apprenticed as a child to a band of tenderhearted pirates. Upon turning 21, Frederic rejoices that he has finally fulfilled his indentures and is now free to return to respectable society. But it turns out that he was born on February 29 – a leap year – and he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday. What will poor Frederic do?

To celebrate leap day, we have a special one-(and a bit)-day deal for you!

We’re offering $29 tickets to any performance on the 29th day of any month of the season. Hurry, though – this promotion is only available for 29 hours from February 28, 2012 at 7 p.m. to February 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.!* To redeem this online promotion, log in to our website using promotion code 42603.

What’s playing on the 29th? 
May 29: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Cymbeline and 42nd Street
(PROMO PRICE SOLD OUT)
June 29: 42nd Street (PROMO PRICE SOLD OUT), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Matchmaker, Wanderlust and Hirsch
July 29: Much Ado About Nothing, Elektra and Hirsch
August 29: Much Ado About Nothing, The Pirates of Penzance (PROMO PRICE SOLD OUT), Hirsch, Cymbeline and The Best Brothers
September 29: 42nd Street, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Elektra, Henry V and The Pirates of Penzance (PROMO PRICE SOLD OUT)


Find out more about our 2012 playbill and take a look behind the scenes on our YouTube channel and our Flickr page!

Fun fact: Did you know that 2012 will be the fourth time that The Pirates of Penzance will appear at the Festival?  Take a look at some photos of past productions of this much-loved Gilbert and Sullivan show!

*Promotion is not available on special 60th season performances, including A Word or Two and The War of 1812. Promotion is not available on already discounted tickets, including Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Tickets are non-refundable, subject to availability and only available online in A, B and C seating zones.

Get ready for the 2012 season!

By Christi Rutledge

Well, we officially wrapped up the 2011 season last weekend with the closing of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. It has been an absolutely fabulous season – and as sad as I am to see it close, I can’t help but get excited about 2012! We have a spectacular line-up to celebrate our 60th season of world-class theatre. Take a tour with me as we explore what’s being offered on our five (!) stages next year.

The Festival Theatre will host four productions: Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street and The Matchmaker. Henry V will return to the Festival stage for the first time in 11 years. Directed by Des McAnuff, this production will no doubt be spectacular and have lots to say about war, leadership and friendship. Expect to see a familiar face on stage as Aaron Krohn, who played Lenny in The Homecoming this year, takes on the title role. Mr. Krohn is joining the ranks of some luminous actors – the part of Henry V was first performed at the Festival by a man named Christopher Plummer.

Much Ado About Nothing is high comedy perfection – and with a cast featuring Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay as Benedick and Beatrice, it will be impossible for anyone to resist this performance. Expect to see a Brazilian flare to this witty comedy directed by Christopher Newton, former Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival.

The Festival is also extremely excited to welcome back Cynthia Dale, who will play Dorothy Brock in Gary Griffin’s production of 42nd Street. This smash Broadway hit tells the classic story of a small town girl moving to the big city to make a name for herself. And it’s full of sensational tap dancing!

And last, but certainly not least, the Festival stage will feature The Matchmaker– Thornton Wilder’s story of a wealthy merchant named Horace Vandergelder (played by Tom McCamus) who searches for a wife with the help of his matchmaker, Dolly Levi (Seana McKenna). This production will be directed by Chris Abraham, who brought you The Little Years (2011) and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (2010).

Over at the Avon Theatre, the greatly anticipated return of Gilbert and Sullivan has finally come with Ethan McSweeny’s staging of The Pirates of Penzance. The theatre will also house a one-hander called A Word or Two, written and performed by the legendary Christopher Plummer and directed by Des McAnuff. And there will be a production that appeals to the child in everyone – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

It is always exciting for us at the theatre and for our patrons when we get to put on a show as magical as Pirates. It’s one of the first plays that my brother saw as a child here at the Festival, and I remember him coming home from his school trip in 1994 and telling me how fascinated he was by it. Filled with wit and with cherished musical numbers, this is a great play for children and adults alike.

A Word or Two will no doubt be difficult to get tickets to, so the sooner you order yours, the better. You won’t want to miss seeing Mr. Plummer back on our stage to offer an intimate look at his life-long love of literature. And Donna Feore’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – presented for the first time at the Festival thanks to Schulich Children’s Plays – will be another heart-warming show to bring the family to. For all the baby-boomers out there, it also offers a chance to revisit a beloved childhood icon.

My favourite theatre, the Tom Patterson, will feature three productions next year: Cymbeline, Wanderlust and Elektra. I am particularly excited for this set of shows!

Cymbeline will be directed by Antoni Cimolino. After falling in love with The Grapes of Wrath this season, I can hardly wait to see how he interprets this fantastic Shakespearean romance.

Another show to get excited about is Wanderlust, a new Canadian musical by Morris Panych and Marek Norman. Wanderlust is a fictional story about the adventures of Robert Service, the great Bard of theYukon, as he grapples with his love for his co-worker Louise, who is engaged to a forbidding man. With songs based on Service’s poetry and Tom Rooney playing the lead (as well as Lucy Peacock playing his landlady, Mrs. Munsch!), this piece had me at “hello.”

Lastly, let’s take a look at Elektra – a play that should be on everyone’s must-see list for the 2012 season. This classic Greek tragedy will be led by the fabulous Yanna McIntosh in the title role, along with Seana McKenna as Clytemestra. Athenian director Thomas Moschopoulos will be making his Festival debut with this production; you may know him as the artist behind the Olympic closing ceremony in Athens in 2004.

The Studio Theatre is home to three productions in our 60th season: MacHomer, The Best Brothers and Hirsch. Rick Millers’ MacHomer, directed by Sean Lynch, reimagines Shakespeare’s Macbeth through the voices of more than fifty characters from The Simpsons. If you’re dying to see this hilarious production, make sure to book tickets soon – it’s only running through the month of May!

Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers is another new Canadian play that we’re excited to feature in its world première. Associate Artistic Director Dean Gabourie helms this two-man show, in which Mr. MacIvor will star. It’s about two brothers, Hamilton and Kyle Best. Upon the unexpected death of their mother, Hamilton and Kyle mourn in very different ways, leading them to some profound realizations about each other and the woman who raised them.

The last play that we’ll be showing on the Studio stage is Hirsch, a play chronicling the life of John Hirsch, former Artistic Director of the Festival. Mr. Hirsch was orphaned at a young age by the Holocaust, but survived and eventually moved to Canada, where his fierce talent and stormy temperament won him acclaim in the theatre. It’s a gripping play, created and conceived by two celebrated Canadian theatre makers: Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson.

One final production, I promise, and then I’m done!

Next year we will be hosting special guest ensemble VideoCabaret in a brand new theatre space. The Studio Theatre Annex will be accessible through the Studio Theatre and will feature The War of 1812, a satirical examination of Canada’s past from Michael Hollingsworth’s series The History of the Village of the Small Huts.

PHEW – I got through them all! I am so excited to share more about our 2012 productions and hope that you find a great selection of shows to come see during our 60th season.

Any shows that you’re already looking forward to? Share your thoughts on our 2012 season!

 

 

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.

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

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

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

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

Kyle Blair takes musical leads in Pirates and 42nd Street

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

Blendick, Carlson, Chioran return for a season of Shakespeare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Rooney and Lucy Peacock together again in Wanderlust

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

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

Mike Shara to play Cornelius in The Matchmaker

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

Casting continues for the 2012 season.

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

Press Release: Artistic Director Des McAnuff extended through 2013 season Festival announces 2012 playbill

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Board of Governors is delighted to announce that Des McAnuff will continue as Artistic Director through the 2013 season.

“Mr. McAnuff is a very gifted director and leader who is much in demand, and we are delighted that he has agreed to continue as our Artistic Director for an additional two years,” says Dr. Lee Myers, Chair of the Board of Governors.

“Stratford is an extraordinary place,” says Mr. McAnuff. “The Festival is a treasured institution for our audiences, our artists and our country. We’ve been able to make some great strides in the last four years, both building on our longstanding traditions and infusing a renewed spirit of innovation. I’m thrilled to continue as Artistic Director through to the 2013 season.

“I’ve completed the planning on our 2012 season, the Festival’s milestone 60th, and have some preliminary plans in place for 2013. Although I have some exciting projects emerging in my work outside of Stratford that will pull me away following the 2013 season, I do hope to serve as a director in the future here and to continue to play an active role in the development of this magnificent theatre.”

“Mr. McAnuff has made his mark on Stratford in his first four years at the helm as Artistic Director,” says Dr. Myers. “He has strengthened our exceptional acting company and added to our ensemble of internationally renowned directors and other theatre artists. He has successfully expanded the Festival’s work into other media, filming productions of Caesar and Cleopatra and The Tempest for cinema release and television broadcast.

“At the same time, our work is finding a home further afield with the co-production of Phèdre in San Francisco, the transfer of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to Toronto, and the extended run of Brian Bedford’s hugely successful production of The Importance of Being Earnest in New York, for which Mr. Bedford received a Tony Award nomination.

“Mr. McAnuff’s progressive stance on casting has increased the company’s diversity, a trend that has been lauded in the media and among members of the industry. Deeply committed to developing new audiences and increasing student attendance, he is also dedicated to providing the best training for Stratford’s artists through our Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre and the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, thereby ensuring that future audiences will continue to enjoy superb classical theatre.

“His strong commitment to new play development is evidenced by the numerous world premières staged over the last four years, including this year’s new version of The Little Years by John Mighton, which was commissioned by the Festival.

“The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is in extremely good hands under the leadership of Mr. McAnuff and General Director Antoni Cimolino, and I’m particularly excited about the plans for the forthcoming 60th season in 2012.”

2012 season covers ‘complete Stratford landscape

A one-man show adapted, arranged and performed by Christopher Plummer is one of the highlights of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 60th season, a season that also features three world premières – including a new Canadian musical.

The playbill announced today by Mr. McAnuff includes three Shakespeare plays (plus a comic one-man adaptation of Macbeth), a tragedy by Sophocles, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and a selection of other musicals and comedies that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

“I’m very excited about our 2012 season,” says Mr. McAnuff. “It covers the complete Stratford landscape, from Shakespeare – and an innovative Canadian take on Shakespeare – to a substantial body of new work.

“By including one of the classic Greek tragedies on our playbill, we touch the very roots of western drama; and to have the great Christopher Plummer return to our company in a show of his own creation seems to me to embody perfectly the marriage of tradition and innovation that characterizes our Festival.

“I know our patrons will be as delighted as I am to see Gilbert and Sullivan back on our stages. I’m thrilled, too, that we once again have family-oriented repertoire on the playbill, and I am immensely proud of the fact that we will also be premièring a new Canadian musical.”

“I want to congratulate Des and all of the Festival artists who will be involved in what I know will be an outstanding 60th season,” says Mr. Cimolino. “As someone who was intimately involved with the planning of the 50th season and had the pleasure of playing Romeo in the 40th season, I take great joy in watching this theatre flourish and grow. Des has created a tremendous playbill with which to mark this milestone. It reaches into every corner of our mandate, from classics to new commissions, and will give our audiences great cause for celebration in 2012.”

At the Festival Theatre, Mr. McAnuff will direct Henry V, perhaps Shakespeare’s most penetrating study of kingship. Ending years of civil strife occasioned by his father’s seizure of the crown, Henry unites his people by means of a campaign against the French, culminating in his famous against-the-odds victory at Agincourt.

Also at the Festival Theatre will be one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Christopher Newton, former Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival and a member of the Stratford Festival acting company in the 1960s. Featuring the famously bickering duo of Beatrice and Benedick, it’s a tale of young love disrupted by the villainous Don John, whose machinations are finally brought to light by the hilariously inept Dogberry.

42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, follows the journey of Peggy Sawyer, a chorus girl who becomes a star when she takes over a leading Broadway role on opening night. Regarded by many as the quintessential backstage musical, it will be directed by Gary Griffin, whose Stratford productions of West Side Story, Evita and Camelot have won widespread popular and critical acclaim.

Completing the line-up at the Festival Theatre is Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, a comedy that owes its existence in part to the Festival’s first Artistic Director, Tyrone Guthrie, who in the early 1950s urged Wilder to rework its earlier incarnation, The Merchant of Yonkers.

“There’s a fascinating bit of trivia about Guthrie’s involvement with The Matchmaker that I’ve heard from both Michael Langham and Christopher Plummer,” says Mr. McAnuff. “Wilder actually came to Stratford to work with Guthrie on the new version of his play – and while he was here, Guthrie also put him to work in the prop shop.”

The story of marriage broker Dolly Gallagher Levi, who sets her own sights on one of her clients, the irascible businessman Horace Vandergelder, The Matchmaker was later adapted into the musical Hello, Dolly! (presented at the Festival in 2005). It will be directed by Chris Abraham, who directed a memorable production of For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again for the 2010 season and is directing The Little Years, opening later this season.

Meanwhile at the Avon Theatre, the incomparable Christopher Plummer takes to the stage to present his one-man show A Word or Two, a deeply personal work that focuses on his love of literature and the way it has shaped his life. Including selections from Stephen Leacock, Bernard Shaw and, of course, William Shakespeare, A Word or Two will be supervised and directed by Mr. McAnuff.

Two musicals will be presented at the Avon Theatre: Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta The Pirates of Penzance and the family favourite You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Directed by Ethan McSweeny, whose acclaimed production of Dangerous Liaisons was a highlight of the Festival’s 2009 season, The Pirates of Penzance is the delightfully zany story of the love between Frederic, indentured to a pirate crew made up entirely of orphans, and the lovely Mabel Stanley, whose father is “the very model of a modern Major-General.”

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, inspired by the world-renowned comic strip Peanuts, brings to the stage all Charles M. Schultz’s beloved characters – including Charlie’s beagle, Snoopy, and his nemesis, Lucy – in a musical guaranteed to delight the whole family. With book, music and lyrics by Clark M. Gesner, the show will be directed by Donna Feore, whose most recent Festival credit was her 2009 production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

The season’s third Shakespeare play, Cymbeline, will be presented at the Tom Patterson Theatre, where it will be directed by Mr. Cimolino. It tells of the trials of Imogen, separated from her husband Posthumus through the villainy of the would-be seducer Iachimo. Like The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, Cymbeline belongs to a group of plays Shakespeare wrote late in his career in which he explored themes of loss, reunion and reconciliation.

Joining Cymbeline at the Tom Patterson Theatre is a classic from ancient Greece: Sophocles’ Elektra, in a translation by celebrated Canadian poet Anne Carson. A timeless tale of vengeful matricide and the price that must be paid for it, Elektra will be staged by Athenian director Thomas Moschopoulos, one of modern Greece’s most internationally acclaimed theatre artists.

Four Canadian works, including three world premières developed through the Festival’s New Play program, will round out the 2012 season.

Robert Service, who immortalized the Yukon in such beloved poems as “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam Magee,” is the subject of the new musical Wanderlust, to be presented at the Tom Patterson Theatre. Written and directed by Morris Panych, with music by Marek Norman, this Festival commission celebrates both the allure of the frontier and the power of the imagination with a wit that matches the best of Service’s poetry.

In The Hirsch Project (working title), developed through the Festival’s New Play  program, Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson paint an intimate portrait of former Festival Artistic Director John Hirsch. Compiled from documents, letters and interviews, this play for a solo performer tells the story of Hirsch’s escape from the Holocaust, his arrival in Canada and his rise to national and international acclaim as a theatre director. Mr. Nashman will perform the piece, which will be directed by Mr. Thompson at the Studio Theatre.

In another world première developed with the New Play Department, Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers, two brothers re-examine their lives and relationships – with their partners and with each other – after the death of their beloved mother. This brilliant and biting comedy will be staged at the Studio Theatre under the direction of Dean Gabourie, the Festival’s Assistant Artistic Director, who directed 2009’s hilarious production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Also at the Studio will be MacHomer, an ingenious and wildly entertaining multi-media production in which Shakespeare’s Macbeth meets the animated TV show The Simpsons. Created and performed by Canadian Rick Miller, who adopts more than 50 different Simpsons character voices while retaining most of Shakespeare’s text, this one-man saga of blind ambition, fate and doughnuts has become an international hit, earning delighted acclaim from audiences of all ages.