Des McAnuff’s Henry V starts previews

June 22, 2012… The epic story of King Henry V’s battle with the French during the Hundred Years’ War comes alive on the Festival Theatre stage in William Shakespeare’s historical drama Henry V. The production, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, begins previews on June 24.
 
“We live in an era when war in foreign lands is again very much on our minds,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and Henry V is one of the greatest dramas about war ever written. In part, that’s because Shakespeare doesn’t take sides: this is neither an overtly anti-war play nor a jingoistic celebration of military glory. Instead, it confronts head-on all the paradoxes and ambivalences inherent in warfare and raises the kinds of questions we still struggle with today. When is war justified? What are its rules of engagement? And how do you hold on to your moral compass in the heat of combat?”
 
Though written as the final part of a tetralogy (preceded by Richard IIHenry IVPart 1and Henry IVPart 2), Henry V is a self-contained drama in its own right. It tells the story of the young king seeking to unite his strife-torn kingdom by launching a campaign to seize the throne of France. But after his invasion’s initial success, the king finds himself facing a vastly superior French force on the fields of Agincourt – and with it, the ultimate test of his leadership.
 
“I started my Shakespeare career by directing Henry IV, Part 1 in New York,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and it has long been a dream of mine to tackle the other plays in the cycle. So it means a lot to me to be doing Henry V – especially here at Stratford. This Festival can present these epic plays, these vast canvases, on a scale that most theatres simply can’t match. It is immensely rewarding to be staging this action-packed yet profoundly thought-provoking work with one of the greatest theatre companies in the world.”
 
“Des’s imagination is limitless and he has a way of harnessing the powers and resources of the theatre to create a spectacular production that is both visually and emotionally stunning,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “His production of Henry V this season will be a case in point: our audiences can expect to be held on the edge of their seats and completely engrossed in one of Shakespeare’s most legendary dramas.”
 
The production features Aaron Krohn as the title character. Mr. Krohn made his Stratford debut as Lenny in last season’s production of The Homecoming and appeared in Mr. McAnuff’s production of Twelfth Night. His Broadway credits include The Farnsworth InventionThe Coast of Utopia and Julius Caesar. He has also worked extensively off-Broadway and on television and has performed many voices for several anime films, including Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Murakomo in Blue Seed and Go in Super Atragon.
 
Mr. Krohn will be joined on stage by Ben Carlson as Captain Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Tom Rooney as Ensign Pistol and Timothy D. Stickneyas the Duke of Exeter.
 
Artistic credits for this production include Set Designer Robert Brill, Costume Designer Paul Tazewell, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Composer Michael Roth, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle, Dramaturge Robert Blacker, Choreographer Nicola Pantin, Fight Director Steve Rankin and Associate Director Lezlie Wade.
 
Henry V is sponsored by Scotiabank. Production support is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein, Jane Petersen-Burfield and Family, and Catherine and David Wilkes.
 
This production is dedicated to the memory of John Neville, Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from 1986 to 1989.
 
This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28:  Much Ado About Nothing42nd StreetThe MatchmakerHenry VYou’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownThe Pirates of PenzanceA Word or TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraMacHomerThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812.
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Get in on the action with $25 tickets to Shakespeare’s Henry V

by Christi Rutledge

I like to think of Shakespeare’s Henry V as the granddaddy of all historical action films. If you’re looking for thrills, the Festival’s upcoming production will deliver: battles, strategy and rousing speeches (plus a touching courtship) are just some of the elements that make up this epic history play. Does it sound a bit like Braveheart, The Patriot, Apocalypse Now or Saving Private Ryan? Methinks… yes!

 Henry V is the fourth play in what is commonly referred to as the Henriad – Shakespeare’s second set of history plays, composed of Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. If you’re not familiar with these works, or if you’re in need of a refresher, we’ve created a short trailer to catch you up on the story.

Henry V arguably has one of the most gripping battle scenes that you’ll ever see on stage. It’s based on the historic Battle of Agincourt, which was fought by the armies of England and France on October 25, 1415. In Shakespeare’s play, the French army “have full threescore thousand” troops – which means that the 3000 exhausted English soldiers are up against “fearful odds.” But the English manage to rally the courage they need to take arms, thanks in no small part to Henry’s stirring words of motivation, known as the St. Crispin’s Day speech. It’s one of those moments in Shakespeare that just grabs you and pulls you in – I’m so looking forward to seeing it!

Helmed by our Artistic Director, Des McAnuff, the Festival’s production features a massive wooden set with a working drawbridge and an impressive raked stage that will transport you back to the medieval era. It’s going to be spectacular!

Aaron Krohn (whom you might remember from last season when he played Lenny in The Homecoming) will be leading the troops in the role of Henry V, along with Ben Carlson as Captain Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Lucy Peacock as the Hostess, Tom Rooney as Ensign Pistol and Timothy D. Stickney as the Duke of Exeter – just to name a few.

Find out Juan Chioran’s take on this exciting show!

Henry V starts previews this weekend! Dive into the action for $25 when you come to any preview performance.* Log into our website with promotion code 44377, or try our new Stratford Social Ticketing Application on Facebook! (You can use the same promotion code.) Don’t delay – this offer is only available until Monday, June 25, at 11:59 p.m.!

Here’s a bit more information about our new Social Ticketing Application, and a “how-to guide” to help you plan an outing with your friends!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Offer is not available on A+ seating. Promotion is only available online through our website or through Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page.

Festival officially launches 60th season on Monday

May 25, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival launches its 60th season on Monday, May 28, with a gala performance of Much Ado About Nothing. This is the final season under the artistic directorship of Des McAnuff, and one that promises an array of wonderful theatre for every taste and age group.

“The 60th season is representative of Stratford in all its glory,” says Mr. McAnuff, who is directing Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two, both of which open later in the season. “Embodying Stratford’s hallmark marriage of tradition and innovation, the Cplaybill ranges from the very roots of drama to some of the finest playwrights working in Canada today. Shakespearean comedy, history and romance are complemented by a hilarious contemporary pastiche of Shakespearean tragedy, while the season’s varied musical theatre repertoire acknowledges our own era’s great contribution to the western dramatic tradition. Meanwhile, the strength of our acting company is being showcased not only in Stratford but also on Broadway, with the Tony-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar.”

“As we celebrate our Festival’s 60th season, the glorious heritage of our past provides us with a clear signpost to the way ahead,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our pioneering artists and those who supported them sought to create in Stratford nothing less than the finest classical theatre in the world. Thanks to their vision and determination, the adventure that began in 1953 with two productions in a tent is now North America’s premier repertory theatre, featuring 14 productions in five venues. That same spirit drives us today as we explore the classics of the past and give birth to the classics of the future.”

Much Ado About Nothing is directed by Christopher Newton, who was a member of the Festival’s acting company from 1966 to 1968. It features Ben Carlson as Benedick and Deborah Hay as Beatrice.

Five other productions will open during the week: 42nd Street, directed by Gary Griffin and featuring Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor, Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, and Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Peggy Sawyer; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore, featuring Stephen Patterson as Snoopy, Erica Peck as Lucy and Ken James Stewart as Charlie Brown; Cymbeline, directed by Antoni Cimolino, featuring Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Cymbeline; The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny, featuring Sean Arbuckle as the Pirate King, Kyle Blair as Frederic, C. David Johnson as the Major General, and Amy Wallis as Mabel Stanley; and The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham, featuring Tom McCamus as Horace Vandergelder and Seana McKenna as Dolly Levi.

The 60th season will feature a number of special events, including Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two, which will run from July 25 to August 26. Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an exhibition of Festival artifacts, including rare footage of our pioneers, at a new space kitty-corner to the Avon Theatre, at 104 Downie Street. A symposium, Interpreting Shakespeare Across Settings and Media, featuring Colm Feore, Norman Lloyd, Dr. Katherine Lowe and the Festival’s Director of Archives, Dr. Francesca Marini, will be held on June 2. A dramatic reading of Edward Bond’s Bingo, about an aging William Shakespeare, will be held on June 15, with the playwright on hand for a Q&A with the audience. Lucy Peacock will hold a number of cabarets – Late Night with Lucy – in the new Studio Annex, in July and August, featuring music and conversation. The Celebrated Writers Series returns with Stephen Marche, author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything; Richard McCoy, author of Faith in Shakespeare; Michael Ondaatje, author of The Cat’s Table; and Margaret Atwood, author of In Other Worlds. Master voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenberg will present three special events from July 18 to 22, to mark 60 years of the Festival’s extensive actor training activities. The Festival will launch a special 60th season book on June 2, Stratford: Behind the Scenes, which will available through the Theatre Store. These special events are all in addition to the Festival’s usual enrichment activities.

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; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.

Opening Week Itinerary

Sunday, May 27
Garden Party
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Festival Theatre lobby and gardens

Monday, May 28
Gala Opening of Much Ado About Nothing
Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford
6:30 p.m. Pipe Band parades to front of theatre and performs
7:00 p.m. Red Carpet arrivals
7:30 p.m. Performance of Much Ado About Nothing begins
10:10 p.m. Performance concludes

Tuesday, May 29
11:30 a.m. Book Launch – Festival Lobby
The Adventures of Adrian and Tiddlywinks by the late John Sullivan Hayes, former Producer of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Opening of 42nd Street
Festival Theatre
8:00 p.m. Performance begins
10:20 p.m. Performance concludes

Wednesday, May 30
Opening of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
9:55 p.m. Performance concludes

Thursday, May 31
Opening of Cymbeline
8 p.m. Tom Patterson Theatre
11 p.m. Performance concludes

Friday, June 1
Opening of The Pirates of Penzance
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
10:35 p.m. Performance concludes

Saturday, June 2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Symposium, Studio Theatre (please contact Andrea Smitko to reserve tickets)
1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Book Launch – Stratford: Behind the Scenes. Rehearsal Hall 3, Studio Theatre.
Opening of The Matchmaker
8 p.m. Festival Theatre
10:40 p.m. Performance concludes

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Much Ado About Nothing begins previews at the Festival!

by Lisa Middleton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Krohn to play Henry V

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

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

Geraint Wyn Davies to play Cymbeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yanna McIntosh to play Elektra

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

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

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

John Beale, Daniel MacIvor take on The Best Brothers

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

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

Key roles cast for The Matchmaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin Hutton, Randy Hughson join cast of Wanderlust

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

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

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

Three principals cast for Much Ado About Nothing

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

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

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

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

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

Full cast named for Charlie Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As previously announced, Kyle Blair will play Frederic.

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

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

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

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.