2012 Shakespeare Overview

By Aaron Kropf

As we all know by now, 2012 marks the Diamond 60th Season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In this milestone year of celebration, the Festival brings you three plays that reveal very different facets of Shakespeare’s genius – a comedy, a history and a romance – together with a hilarious comic take on one of his most popular tragedies. Let’s have a quick look at each of the Shakespeare shows on our 2012 playbill, starting with the one that opens first.

MacHomer is Shakespeare with a difference, pairing one of his best-known plays with one of the 20th century’s most recognizable families. Actor and comedian Rick Miller has entertained audiences around the globe with this mashup of Macbeth and – wait for it – The Simpsons. Now, I know many of you are asking: why would the Stratford Shakespeare Festival present a send-up of Shakespeare? Well, for two reasons: first, MacHomer is brilliantly entertaining in its own right, and second, it’s a great way of introducing Shakespeare to new audiences. Younger folks whose only experience of these plays has come from reading them in school will discover the amazing world of Shakespeare in performance – via a popular-culture phenomenon they’re already comfortable with. MacHomer runs at the Studio Theatre early in the season, from May 2 to May 26, with its official opening May 5.

The show featured in this season’s gala opening is Much Ado About Nothing. Directed by Christopher Newton (former Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival), this high comedy contains some of Shakespeare’s best-loved characters and some of his most glorious wit. If you haven’t already read the article on Much Ado’s “merry war” of words in our November issue of SceneNotes, be sure to take a look at it here. With a fantastic cast led by real-life husband and wife Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay as Benedick and Beatrice, this is one production you won’t want to miss. Much Ado About Nothing runs at the Festival Theatre from April 26 to October 27, opening May 28.

Next to open is the romance Cymbeline, directed by Stratford Shakespeare Festival General Director Antoni Cimolino. Being produced for only the fourth time in the Festival’s history, this beautifully moving play has a cast that includes Cara Ricketts as Imogen and Geraint Wyn Davies in the title role. Don’t miss your chance to see this rarely performed masterpiece – who knows when the opportunity will come again? Cymbeline plays at the Tom Patterson Theatre from May 10 to September 30, opening May 31.

Finally, to round out our 60th season celebration, we’re presenting the epic drama Henry V – which will open at the Festival Theatre on the anniversary of our very first performance in 1953. This is a play with special significance for Stratford: when we first presented it in 1956 (our last season in the original tent), Christopher Plummer played the title role and the production became a legend in Canadian theatrical history. Aaron Krohn, who won such critical acclaim in 2011 for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming, will play Henry this time round, in a production directed by our Artistic Director, Des McAnuff. Henry V runs June 24 to September 29, opening July 13. Here’s a video that will tell you a little more about the show:

We hope you’ll join us in 2012: it promises to be a stellar 60th season!

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Job Opportunity: Props Apprentice

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists, and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Props Apprentice – Festival Theatre – Production department

As an apprentice, you will work with some of this industry’s top craftspeople and artisans, learning the techniques and skills required to work in a large-scale repertory theatre. The apprentice position will consist of a 20-week contract over the winter/spring 2012, and will combine a period of training with work on the 2012 season productions.

There is an option for a second year of training starting February 2013.

Applicants should have post-secondary education in Fine Arts, Theatre Arts, or a related field, and have some theatre production experience. Apprentices will be required to interact with other production staff, designers, and craftspeople, therefore good interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team environment are essential. This position can be physically strenuous and require some heavy lifting.

A portfolio demonstrating skills would be an asset.

This position will begin early February 2012.

We recognize that diversity in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages, fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workforce and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by October 15, 2011 to:

Human Resources, 55 Queen Street, Stratford, Ontario, N5A 6V2 • Fax: 519.271.0626 resumes@stratfordshakespearefestival.com (please enter position title into subject line)

While all responses are appreciated and will be kept in strictest confidence, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Dress Rehearsal ~ As You Like It

As You Like It From left: Brent Carver as Jaques, Ben Carlson as Touchstone, Cara Ricketts as Celia, Paul Nolan as Orlando and Andrea Runge as Rosalind Photo by: Andrew Eccles

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare

April 30 to October 31 – Opens June 7

Last week the company was invited to the dress rehearsal of As You Like It, and I must say it was a real treat to have the opportunity to watch this show. Having grown up in Stratford, I have watched a number of productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the first of which was a production of As You Like It – which for me, like many others, was a life-changing experience.

Walking into the Festival Theatre is an experience itself, and I am in awe every time I enter that theatre. So when I went in to watch the 2010 production of As You Like It, directed by our Artistic Director, Des McAnuff, I thought I knew what I was going to see. But even so, I didn’t expect it to be quite so gorgeous. This production is set in the 1920s, a beautiful period with stunning clothing and eye-popping surrealist art.

As You Like It takes place in two different realms. The first is that of the court, where a coup has just taken place. Duke Senior has been usurped by his brother, Duke Frederick, and banished from the court. Frederick then also banishes his niece Rosalind, who decides the best thing to do is disguise herself as a man before she enters the Forest of Arden (which is of course the second realm). To make a long story short, Rosalind and Orlando (who was smitten with her even before they entered the forest) fall in love, as do three other couples. In the end they all get married, and all is restored.

One aspect of this show that really stands out is its music. The Festival has had a number of composers write music for past productions of As You Like It, the last time being in 2005, when the Barenaked Ladies supplied the score. This time we have a descendant of Duke Ellington as the composer of the songs ¬– and what wonderful music he has created! Other music for this production was created by Michael Roth who was musical director on Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. The tunes have a twenties feel to them and make you want to Charleston along with the cast. Once the songs started, I didn’t want them to stop.

The cast is as talented as the design is beautiful. Several members are from this season’s Conservatory class, including two favourites from last season: Paul Nolan (who played Tony in West Side Story) and Andrea Runge (Cecily from The Importance of Being Earnest). Playing beside them is a fine mix of others who have delighted us before at Stratford, including Ben Carlson and Brian Tree and the return of Brent Carver.

As You Like It runs from April 30 through October 31, opening June 7.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

First Forest Lord………………………………………………………………… Sean Arbuckle
Phoebe………………………………………………………………………………….. Dalal Badr
First Page……………………………………………………………………… Jewelle Blackman
Dennis………………………………………………………………………………. Skye Brandon
Touchstone…………………………………………………………………………… Ben Carlson
Jaques………………………………………………………………………………… Brent Carver
Charles / William…………………………………………………………………… Dan Chameroy
Ensemble……………………………………………………………………………… Victor Dolhai
Oliver Martext……………………………………………………………………… Victor Ertmanis
Le Beau………………………………………………………………………………… Xuan Fraser
Musician…………………………………………………………………………………. Ian Harper
Ensemble……………………………………………………………………………… Alana Hawley
Corin………………………………………………………………………………… Randy Hughson
Ensemble………………………………………………………………………………. Robin Hutton
Silvius………………………………………………………………………………………. Ian Lake
Hymen…………………………………………………………………………………….. Roy Lewis
Musician………………………………………………………………………….. George Meanwell
Understudy……………………………………………………………………………. Ginette Mohr
Amiens…………………………………………………………………………….. Mike Nadajewski
Hisperia……………………………………………………………………………… Nathalie Nadon
Orlando……………………………………………………………………………………. Paul Nolan
Fourth Forest Lord…………………………………………………………….. Stephen Patterson
Audrey………………………………………………………………………………… Lucy Peacock
Second Forest Lord………………………………………………………….. Christopher Prentice
Jaques de Boys…………………………………………………………………… Jonathan Purdon
Celia……………………………………………………………………………………. Cara Ricketts
Duke Frederick / Duke Senior………………………………………………………… Tom Rooney
Rosalind……………………………………………………………………………….. Andrea Runge
Oliver……………………………………………………………………………………… Mike Shara
Adam………………………………………………………………………………………. Brian Tree
Second Page……………………………………………………………….. Abigail Winter-Culliford

Artistic team

Director……………………………………………………………………………….. Des McAnuff
Scenic Designer…………………………………………………………………….. Debra Hanson
Costume Designer………………………………………………………………….. Dana Osborne
Lighting Designer………………………………………………………………….. Michael Walton
Composer, Original Songs…………………………………………………………. Justin Ellington
Composer, Musical Director…………………………………………………………. Michael Roth

Dress Rehearsal ~ Kiss Me, Kate

Monique Lund as Lilli Vanessi and Juan Chioran as Fred Grahm. Photo by: Andrew Eccles

Kiss Me, Kate
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

April 10 to October 30 – Opens June 8

Yesterday a number of staff at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival got the opportunity to sit in on the dress rehearsal for Kiss Me, Kate directed by two time Tony award winner John Doyle.  And I must say that it was hugely enjoyable and had a lot of colour.

If you’re not familiar with this Cole Porter hit musical, here’s a brief synopsis of the story.  Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi celebrating the first anniversary of their divorce, while at the same time putting on a musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.  This Shrew is directed by Fred and stars Fred and Lilli as Petruchio and Katherine.  And if that’s not enough of a tricky situation, Bill Calhoun, a member of the acting company with a gambling problem, has written an IOU for his latest loss – using Fred’s name.  Lo and behold, a pair of gangsters arrive to collect the IOU, and from that moment on chaos ensues.

Kiss Me, Kate is full of wonderful songs by Cole Porter that you are bound to recognize, even if you don’t know their titles.  These are tunes that seem to be implanted into all our subconscious at birth – and right from “Wonderbar,” the first number, we are humming along.  Among the best-known numbers are “Too Darn Hot,” “So In Love,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”.

Under the direction of John Doyle (most recognizable for the revivals of Company and Sweeney Todd on Broadway, in which the characters also fill in as the orchestra) the cast of Kiss Me, Kate put on a show you’re sure to remember for quite some time.  Be it because of the wildly fanciful asymmetrical costumes for Fred’s Shrew musical or new imagining of the “Too Darn Hot” number, you’ll fall for this show.  And that’s to say nothing of all the fantastic singers and dancers in the cast – who, by the way, not only play their “real” roles throughout but also stand in as set pieces in the show-within-the-show production of Shrew.

Kiss Me, Kate starts this Saturday April 9 at 2pm and runs in rep until October 30 at the Festival theatre.

Cast (in alphabetical order)
A Boy / Gregory………………………………………………………….. Jordan Bell
Fred Graham / Petruchio……………………………………………….. Juan Chioran
Wig Mistress / Padua Lady……………………………………………. Naomi Costain
Flyman / Philip…………………………………………………………….. Stephen Cota
Props Mistress / Padua Lady………………………………………….. Lindsay Croxall
Hattie, Lilli’s Dresser / Padua Woman……………………………… Keisha T. Fraser
Swing………………………………………………………………………… Nicko Giannakos
Stage Carpenter / Gremio………………………………………………. Kyle Golemba
Prompter / Padua Lady…………………………………………………. Eran Goodyear
Harry Trevor / Baptista…………………………………………………. Douglas E. Hughes
Bill Calhoun / Lucentio………………………………………………….. Mike Jackson
Lois Lane / Bianca……………………………………………………….. Chilina Kennedy
Lilli Vanessi / Katherine…………………………………………………. Monique Lund
Wardrobe Mistress / Haberdasher…………………………………… Lorena Mackenzie
Swing………………………………………………………………………… Josie Marasco
Assistant Stage Manager / Padua Lady…………………………….. Jennifer Rider-Shaw
First Man……………………………………………………………………. Steve Ross
Second Man……………………………………………………………….. Cliff Saunders
Stage Electrician / Hortensio…………………………………………… Jaz Sealey
Dance Captain / Nathaniel……………………………………………… Julius Sermonia
Ralph, the Stage Manager……………………………………………… Vince Staltari
Harrison Howell / Cab Driver…………………………………………. Kristian Truelsen
Pops, Stage Door Man / Priest……………………………………….. Rudy Webb
Paul, Fred’s Dresser / Padua Man…………………………………… Josh Young

Artistic Team
Director……………………………………………………………………… John Doyle
Choreographer…………………………………………………………….. Tracey Flye
Musical Director………………………………………………………….. Franklin Brasz
Designer…………………………………………………………………….. David Farley
Sound Designer……………………………………………………………. Peter McBoyle
Fight Director………………………………………………………………. Daniel Levinson
Associate Sound Designer……………………………………………… Michael Laird
Assistant Director…………………………………………………………. Rachel Slaven
Assistant Choreographer……………………………………………….. Kelly Fletcher
Lighting Design Execution………………………………………………. Siobhán Sleath
Assistant Set Designer…………………………………………………… Andrea Mittler
Assistant Costume Designer…………………………………………… Laura Gardner
Assistant Lighting Designer…………………………………………….. Jennifer Lennon
Assistant Sound Designer………………………………………………. Verne Good
Assistant Fight Director…………………………………………………. Kevin Robinson
New Musical Arrangements / Musical Supervisor………………. Rick Fox
Stage Manager…………………………………………………………….. Cynthia Toushan
Assistant Stage Managers………………………………………………. Marie Fewer, Holly Korhonen,
Zeph Williams
Production Assistant……………………………………………………… Loreen Gibson
Production Stage Manager…………………………………………….. Margaret Palmer