Stratford Festival kicks off 61st season with first preview of Fiddler on the Roof

April 23, 2013… The Festival Theatre stage will transform into a small Jewish village through the heartwarming tale of hope, faith and tradition that is Fiddler on the Roof. One of Broadway’s longest-running and most celebrated musicals begins previews in Stratford on Tuesday, April 23, marking the first performance of the 2013 season.

An affectionately humorous portrait of life in the small Russian shtetl of Anatevka, Fiddler on the Roof centres on Tevye, the village milkman, who finds his values challenged by his daughters’ insistence on following their hearts rather than the dictates of tradition. Gradually, Tevye comes to accept that change is inevitable, but he does not realize that other, tragic upheavals are on the horizon – some that threaten his community’s very existence.

The production is directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, who returns for her 19th season at the Festival, having helmed such much loved productions as Oliver!, Oklahoma!, Cyrano de Bergerac and last year’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

“This is a classic musical with extraordinary heart,” says Ms Feore. “Tevye is not only dealing with change and uncertainty within his family, he is also dealing with uncertainty in the world around him. I think that is why people are so moved by this piece. Life is always changing. Like the fiddler on the roof, it’s unstable, and it’s about finding balance.”

In a playbill built around themes of community, Fiddler on the Roof is a natural fit.

“In putting together this season, I was particularly drawn to exploring the idea of cultural belonging: communities divided and how they bridge those gaps,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “This is an iconic story of a community driven apart by the pressures of a changing world, but also one of bringing people together – a notion it takes beyond the stage by inviting us all to be Jewish, if only for a couple of hours. The combination of music and dance, humour and warmth makes Fiddler on the Roof a timeless work of art within the musical genre and a great night out at the theatre.”

Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem, with book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the Tony Award-winning musical was originally produced on the New York stage by Harold Prince and directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The rousing, unforgettable score, featuring such beloved songs as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” will be brought to life in this production by an outstanding cast working alongside acclaimed Musical Director Shelley Hanson in her Stratford debut.

Two familiar faces from Festival seasons past make a welcome return in the musical: Scott Wentworth as Tevye and Kate Hennig as his wife, Golde. The cast also features Jacquelyn French as Hodel, Keely Hutton as Chava, Gabrielle Jones as Yente, André Morin as Motel, Mike Nadajewski as Perchik, Paul Nolan as Fyedka and Jennifer Stewart as Tzeitel.

Joining Ms Feore and Ms Hanson are Tony Award-nominated Set Designer Allen Moyer, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle and Fight Director John Stead.

Fiddler on the Roof Forum Highlights 

The Forum, the new festival within the Festival, is a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. Through debates, talks, concerts, comedy nights, hands-on workshops and more, The Forum will offer theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

Themes related to Fiddler on the Roof will be explored through several Forum events, including: Tradition and the Jewish Composer, a concert by the ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) introduced by Artistic Director Simon Wynberg; Breaking with Tradition: Fiddler on the Roof and the 1960s Generation Gap, a talk by Marlis Schweitzer, associate professor of theatre at York University; and Fiddler’s Fortunes: The Mighty Afterlife of a Broadway Musical, a talk by Alisa Solomon, director of the Arts and Culture concentration in the MA program at Columbia Journalism School.

Support for the inaugural season of The Forum is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus. Support for the Speaker Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Philip Hayman.

Fiddler on the Roof is co-sponsored by Union Gas Limited. Production support is generously provided by the Harkins Family in memory of Susan Harkins and by Celebrate Ontario.

Stratford Direct, the new daily return private bus service between Toronto and Stratford, begins May 1. Departing once daily from May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20 and twice daily from May 27 to September 29 (on performance days only), the round trip costs only $20.

Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof; The Three Musketeers, The Merchant of Venice, Tommy, Blithe Spirit, Othello, Measure for Measure, Mary Stuart, Waiting for Godot, Taking Shakespeare, and The Thrill, along with more than 150 events at The Forum.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Alfons……………………………………………..       Matt Alfano

Gavril Kanevski…………………………………       Gabriel Antonacci

Levi Hayes………………………………………       Matthew Armet

The Fiddler……………………………………..       Anna Atkinson

Fruma-Sarah…………………………………….        Jewelle Blackman

Nachum…………………………………………        Matthew G. Brown

Mashel…………………………………………..        Stephen Cota

Benesh………………………………………….       Sean Dolan

Hodel……………………………………………       Jacquelyn French

Grandma Tzeitel………………………………..       Barbara Fulton

Bielke, alternating.……………………………..        Anna Gough

Yussel…………………………………………..       Sean Alexander Hauk

Shaindel…………………………………………       Valerie Hawkins

Golde……………………………………………       Kate Hennig

Avram…………………………………………..       Larry Herbert

Bielke, alternating………………………………       Effie Honeywell

Chava……………………………………………       Keely Hutton

Rifka……………………………………………       Robin Hutton

Zeff Orenstein………………………………….       Galen Johnson

Yente……………………………………………       Gabrielle Jones

Swing…………………………………………..        Julia Juhas

Clarinet Player….………………………………       Gary Kidd

Mordcha………………………………………..        Jeremy Kushnier

Shprintze……………………………………….        Krista Leis

Mendel…………………………………………        Robert Markus

Motel…………………………………………..         André Morin

The Rabbi………………………………………         Sam Moses

Perchik…………………………………………        Mike Nadajewski

Swing…………………………………………..        Nicholas Nesbitt

Fyedka………………………………………….       Paul Nolan

Charna………………………………………….        Katrina Reynolds

Swing…………………………………………..        Jennifer Rider-Shaw

Lazar Wolf……………………………………..        Steve Ross

The Constable………………………………….        Brad Rudy

Sasha……………………………………………        Julius Sermonia

“To Life” Tenor………………………………..        Lee Siegel

Itsaak……………………………………….…..       Shayne Simpson

Tzeitel………………………………………….        Jennifer Stewart

Tevye…………………………………………..        Scott Wentworth

Artistic Credits

Director and Choreographer……………………        Donna Feore

Musical Director……………………………….        Shelley Hanson

Set Designer……………………………………        Allen Moyer

Costume Designer………………………………        Dana Osborne

Lighting Designer………………………………       Michael Walton

Sound Designer…………………………………       Peter McBoyle

Fight Director…………………………………..       John Stead

Producer………………………………………..        David Auster

Casting Director………………………………..        Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director…………………….        Jason Miller

Associate Choreographer………………………        Kerry Gage

Associate Conductor……………………………       Marilyn Dallman

Assistant Director………………………………        Ann Baggley

Jewish Culture Consultant……………………..        Dr. Darren C. Marks

Assistant Set Designer…………………………        Brandon Kleiman

Assistant Costume Designer……………………        Alix Dolgoy

Assistant Lighting Designers…………………..        Sean Poole, Tristan Tidswell

Assistant Fight Directors………………………        Geoff Scovell, Anita Nittoly

Dance Captain…………………………………        Stephen Cota

Fight Captain……………………………….….        Brad Rudy

Stage Manager…………………………………        Cynthia Toushan

Assistant Stage Managers………………………        Krista Blackwood, Melissa Rood, Zeph Williams

Production Assistant……………………………        Linsey Callaghan

Production Stage Manager…………………….        Margaret Palmer

Technical Director………………………….….         Jeff Scollon

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for Fiddler on the Roof:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=20295

Headshots:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14315

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Festival announces key casting for 2013

October 16, 2012… With the 2013 box office opening to Members in just a few weeks, the Stratford Festival is pleased to announce key casting for the 2013 season, featuring the return of many Festival favourites.

Jewelle Blackman, Michelle Giroux, Jonathan Goad, Kate Hennig, Dion Johnstone, Jeremy Kushnier, Mike Nadajewski, Paul Nolan, Stephen Ouimette, Steven Sutcliffe, Sara Topham and Scott Wentworth will be returning to the Festival in 2013, joining current company members Graham Abbey, Nigel Bennett, Michael Blake, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Jacquelyn French, Carmen Grant, Deborah Hay, Randy Hughson, Luke Humphrey, Peter Hutt, Keely Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Gabrielle Jones, Ian Lake, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Chick Reid, Tom Rooney, Steve Ross, Stephen Russell, Mike Shara, Jennifer Stewart, Brian Tree and Geraint Wyn Davies.

Also joining the company are newcomers Daniel Briere, Nehassaiu deGannes, Kira Guloien, Hannah Miller, Andre Morin and Robert Markus. As previously announced, Brian Bedford, Brian Dennehy and Martha Henry will also return in leading roles.

“At the heart of the Festival stand extraordinary artists,” says Antoni Cimolino, who will take over as Artistic Director on November 1. “I am immensely proud of the company we have assembled for the 2013 season, bringing together some of our finest actors as well as some exceptionally promising newcomers. We look forward to working with them to present the most exciting stories ever told.”

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham to play Romeo and Juliet

ROMEO AND JULIET | DIRECTED BY TIM CARROLL | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 1 | OPENS MAY 27 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SUN LIFE FINANCIAL
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: M. VAILE FAINER

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham will play the title characters in Tim Carroll’s production of Romeo and Juliet. They will be joined by Nehassaiu deGannes as Lady Capulet, Jonathan Goad as Mercutio, Kate Hennig as the Nurse, Tom McCamus as Friar Laurence and Scott Wentworth as Capulet.

Daniel Briere will make his Stratford debut as Romeo. A graduate of the National Theatre School, Mr. Briere has played such roles as Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew and Paris in Romeo and Juliet at Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park, Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing at Driftwood Theatre, Number One in Lebenstraum at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Art in The Mail Order Bride at the Blyth Festival.

Sara Topham will return for her 13th season to play Juliet. After her Stratford and Broadway turn as Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Ms Topham returned to Stratford in 2010 to play Wendy in Peter Pan and La Présidente de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons, followed by Olivia in Twelfth Night and Célimène in The Misanthrope in 2011. This past year has seen her in leading roles at the Hartford Stage Company, McCarter Theater Center and Shakespeare Theater Company.  Other key Stratford credits include Miss Mabel Chiltern in An Ideal Husband, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Grace Harkaway in London Assurance, Cordelia in King Lear and Rosalind in As You Like It.

Fiddler on the Roof to feature Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF | DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY DONNA FEORE | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START APRIL 23 | OPENS MAY 28 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION CO-SPONSOR: UNION GAS LIMITED
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: THE HARKINS FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SUSAN HARKINS

Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth will take the leading roles of Golde and Tevye in Donna Feore’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Jacquelyn French has been cast as Hodel, Keely Hutton as Chava, Gabrielle Jones as Yente, Andre Morin as Motel, Mike Nadajewski as Perchik, Paul Nolan as Fyedka and Jennifer Stewart as Tzeitel.

Kate Hennig, who is returning for her fourth season at Stratford, is well remembered for playing the dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, in Broadway’s Billy Elliot: The Musical, a role she also played in Toronto, winning a Dora Award for her performance. Most recently she was seen as Emma Goldman in this season’s Shaw Festival hit, Ragtime, as well as in A Man and Some Women. She was also in the wildly popular première of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Arts Centre. Ms Hennig was last in the Stratford company in 1991, playing Mrs. Mullin in Carousel, Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing and the Player Queen in Hamlet. She can currently be seen playing Adele Witham in Bomb Girls on Global Television.

Scott Wentworth, who marks his 18th season in 2013, was last seen at Stratford in 2008, playing Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán in Fuente Ovejuna and Claudius in Hamlet. His musical credits at Stratford include playing Clifford Bradshaw in the 1987 production of Cabaret and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in both 1990 and 2004 – a role he is currently reprising at the Segal Centre in Montreal. His other Stratford credits include the title roles in Macbeth, Richard III, Henry IV Part 1 and The Merchant of Venice, Iago in Othello, David Cutrere in Orpheus Descending and Theseus in Phèdre. Mr. Wentworth has also written a number of musicals in collaboration with his wife, Marion Adler, including Enter the Guardsman, which was nominated for an Olivier Award for best musical in 1997.

Musketeers Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Mike Shara joined by Luke Humphrey as D’Artagnan

THE THREE MUSKETEERS | DIRECTED BY MILES POTTER | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19

Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad and Mike Shara headline Miles Potter’s production of The Three Musketeers, with Luke Humphrey playing D’Artagnan. They will be joined by Michael Blake as Count de Rochefort, Nehassaiu deGannes as the Queen of France, Deborah Hay as Milady de Winter, Bethany Jillard as Constance Bonacieux and Steven Sutcliffe as Cardinal Richelieu.

Graham Abbey, who will play Athos, returned to the Festival in 2012 for the first time since 2006 to play Posthumus in Cymbeline and Aigisthos in Elektra. His extensive television career includes the series lead, Gray Jackson, in The Border, Glen Martin in Degrassi and George Thomey in Republic of Doyle. His Stratford credits include Henry V, Macbeth, Romeo and Henry VIII, as well as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Happy in Death of a Salesman and D’Artagnan in the 2000 production of The Three Musketeers.

Jonathan Goad will play Porthos. Mr. Goad was last seen at Stratford in 2009, playing Quarlous in Bartholomew Fair, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and Hippolytus in Phèdre. In 11 Stratford seasons, his credits have included Harold Hill in The Music Man, Iago in Othello, Angelo in Measure for Measure, Theseus and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title role in Pericles. Mr. Goad can also be seen on CBC TV, where he plays Christian Doyle in Republic of Doyle.

Luke Humphrey made his Stratford debut in 2010, appearing in The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. This season he played Michael Williams in Henry V. He will also be remembered as the shirtless tango dancer in Much Ado About Nothing. His other credits include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Highland Hall Theatre, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at the Stella Adler Studio.

Mike Shara will return for his fifth season at Stratford to play Aramis. Mr. Shara is currently playing Cloten in Cymbeline and Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker. His Stratford highlights include Teddy in The Homecoming, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. Mr. Shara is a veteran of the Shaw Festival and has performed across the country. His television work includes Little Mosque on the Prairie, Queer as Folk and Due South.

Tom McCamus to play the Merchant

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 30 | OPENS AUGUST 15 | CLOSES OCTOBER 18
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SCOTIABANK
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: CATHERINE & DAVID WILKES; JANE PETERSEN-BURFIELD & FAMILY; BARBARA & JOHN SCHUBERT

Tom McCamus will once again collaborate with Antoni Cimolino in next season’s The Merchant of Venice, in which he will play Antonio. Mr. McCamus gave a searing performance as Iachimo in Mr. Cimolino’s production of Cymbeline this year and beautifully portrayed Jim Casy in 2011’s The Grapes of Wrath and Justice Overdo in 2009’s Bartholomew Fair. His portrayal of Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker continues to delight audiences. In his 12 seasons at Stratford, Mr. McCamus has played a vast number of leading roles including Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, Master Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Arthur in Camelot, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

As previously announced, Brian Bedford will play Shylock. They will be joined by Michelle Giroux as Portia, Jonathan Goad as Gratiano and Hannah Miller as Jessica.

Stellar cast for Blithe Spirit features Ben Carlson, Michelle Giroux, Seana McKenna and Sara Topham

BLITHE SPIRIT | DIRECTED BY BRIAN BEDFORD | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 16 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: JOHN H. WHITESIDE; NONA MACDONALD HEASLIP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT FOR THE AVON THEATRE 2013 SEASON: THE BIRMINGHAM FAMILY

Brian Bedford will direct a stellar ensemble in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, with Ben Carlson as Charles Condomine; Michelle Giroux as Elvira, the ghost of Charles’s deceased wife; Seana McKenna as the medium, Madame Arcati; and Sara Topham as Charles’s second wife, Ruth. They will be joined by James Blendick as Dr. Bradman and Chick Reid as Mrs. Bradman. Mr. Bedford worked with Mr. Carlson and Ms Topham most recently in the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest in 2009.

Ben Carlson, currently playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Captain Fluellen in Henry V, returns for his sixth season at Stratford. Highlights of his time here include Feste in Twelfth Night, Alceste in The Misanthrope, 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. He has worked throughout Canada and the U.S., and spent 12 seasons at the Shaw Festival, where he is well remembered for his marathon Man and Superman, The Return of the Prodigal and All My Sons, among other performances.

Michelle Giroux will celebrate her 10th season at Stratford in 2013. She was last here in 2007, when she played Jean Louise in the celebrated production of To Kill a Mockingbird and Julia in A Delicate Balance. Her Stratford credits also include Queen Isabella in Edward II, Katerina in The Brothers Karamazov, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Daphne in Present Laughter, Olivia in Twelfth Night and Gwendolen in the 2000 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

After her hilarious turn as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker, Seana McKenna will return for her 22nd season to play Madame Arcati. Stratford audiences will also remember Ms McKenna’s lighter side from such performances as Amanda Prynne in Private Lives, Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Dotty Otley in Noises Off and Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance. Her other Stratford credits include her remarkable portrayals of Richard III in 2011 and Clytemestra in this season’s Elektra, as well as moving portrayals of Medea, Andromache and Phèdre. She has played every one of Shakespeare’s leading ladies, many of them here at Stratford, as well as his wife, Anne Hathaway, in the one-woman show Shakespeare’s Will, which was produced at Stratford in 2007 and 2011.

Newcomer Robert Markus to play Tommy

TOMMY | DIRECTED BY DES McANUFF | CHOREOGRAPHED BY WAYNE CILENTO | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 4 | OPENS MAY 30 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: RICHARD ROONEY & LAURA DINNER

Newcomer Robert Markus will play the title role in Des McAnuff’s production of Tommy. Mr. Markus graduated from the University of Alberta’s acting program in 2010. His credits include Gabe in Next to Normal at the Citadel Theatre and Theatre Calgary, Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show and Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, also at the Citadel, and Angelo in The Comedy of Errors at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival.

He will be joined by Jewelle Blackman as the Gypsy, Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker, Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker, Paul Nolan as Cousin Kevin and Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie.

Dion Johnstone takes title role in Othellowith Graham Abbey as Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona

OTHELLO | DIRECTED BY CHRIS ABRAHAM | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START AUGUST 4 | OPENS AUGUST 14 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: BMO FINANCIAL GROUP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: LARRY ENKIN & FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SHARON ENKIN;
MARTIE & BOB SACHS

Dion Johnstone will return to Stratford to take on the title role in Chris Abraham’s production of Othello, with Graham Abbey playing Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona. They will be joined by Deborah Hay as Emilia, Peter Hutt as Brabantio, Mike Shara as Roderigo and Brian Tree as Gratiano.

Dion Johnstone comes to the role of Othello at the Festival, having turned in a number of memorable classical performances here, including Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Caliban in The Tempest, opposite Christopher Plummer’s Prospero, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Des McAnuff’s production of Macbeth, Edmund in King Lear, Iachimo in the 2004 production of Cymbeline and Orestes in the 2003 productions of The Flies and Electra. He has a vast television career as well, most recently including Harold Kalb in The Listener, Tyrone Evans in King and Barnaby Howe in Flashpoint.

Bethany Jillard made her Stratford debut in 2010 as Cécile Volante in Dangerous Liaisons and has since shone in both classical and contemporary roles as Lady Anne in Richard III, Young Kate and Tanya in The Little Years, Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Catherine in Henry V. Her other credits include Miss Julie in the MTC Warehouse production of After Miss Julie, the title role in My Name is Rachel Corrie at Theatre Panik and Brooke in How It Works at Tarragon. She won the Equity Emerging Theatre Artist Award in 2010.

Seana McKenna plays Elizabeth to Lucy Peacock’s Mary Stuart

MARY STUART | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 3 | OPENS MAY 31 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. M.L. MYERS & DR. W.P. HAYMAN; ALICE & TIM THORNTON; DIANA TREMAIN; DR. DENNIS & DOROTHEA HACKER

Lucy Peacock will take on the title role in Antoni Cimolino’s production of Mary Stuart opposite Seana McKenna as Elizabeth.

It will feature Ben Carlson as Lord Burleigh, Geraint Wyn Davies as the Earl of Leicester and, as previously announced, Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury. James Blendick will play Amias Paulet, Peter Hutt will play Count Aubespine, Ian Lake will play Mortimer and Brian Tree will play Melvil.

Lucy Peacock celebrated her 25th season and 60th production with the Festival this season, playing the Hostess in Henry V and Mrs. Munsch in the new musical Wanderlust – as well as producing and starring in the cabaret series Late Night with Lucy. Last season she also combined musical theatre and Shakespeare, playing Morgan le Fey in Camelot and the delightfully scheming Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Her career at Stratford has been studded with brilliant performances, including Nana in For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Audrey in As You Like It, Masha in Three Sisters, Emilia in Othello, the title roles in The Duchess of Malfi and Hello, Dolly!, and a tour-de-force performance of all of the characters in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.

After his stirring portrayal of King Cymbeline, Geraint Wyn Davies will again collaborate with Mr. Cimolino, playing the key role of the Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart. Mr. Wyn Davies will celebrate his 10th season at Stratford in 2013. He began his Stratford adventure in 1986, playing Pericles and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys from Syracuse. Since then he 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 and Henry V, 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.

Measure for Measure to feature Carmen Grant, Stephen Ouimette,

Tom Rooney, Geraint Wyn Davies

MEASURE FOR MEASURE | DIRECTED BY MARTHA HENRY | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS MAY 29 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: RBC
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: KARON BALES & CHARLES BEALL

Martha Henry’s production of Measure for Measure will feature Carmen Grant as Isabella, Stephen Ouimette as Lucio, Tom Rooney as Angelo, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Duke Vincentio, with Randy Hughson as Pompey, Peter Hutt as Escalus and Stephen Russell as Provost.

Carmen Grant made her Stratford debut in 2010, after completing her first year at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, where she played such roles as Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Goneril in King Lear. At the Festival she has appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, The Matchmaker, Titus Andronicus and Richard III. She received a Dora nomination for her portrayal of the title role in The Miracle Worker at YPT and won the Rising Star Award for playing Ruth in the ATP production of Zadie’s Shoes.

Stephen Ouimette recently gave an acclaimed performance as Harry Hope in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. Mr. Ouimette and Mr. Dennehy had performed together at Stratford in 2011’s outstanding productions of The Homecoming and Twelfth Night. Mr. Ouimette was also featured in the West End and Broadway productions of La Bete and is well-known for his portrayal of Oliver Welles in the television series Slings and Arrows. He has spent 18 seasons entertaining Stratford audiences with such performances as Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest and Touchstone in As You Like It. He has directed a number of productions, including Timon of Athens in 2004, and has played the title roles in Hamlet, King John, Amadeus and Richard III, as well as many other leading roles.

Tom Rooney will return for his sixth Stratford season, after delighting audiences as Robert Service in the 2012 première of Wanderlust and as Ensign Pistol in Henry V. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Rooney has fast become a favourite on the Festival stage, 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.

Stephen Ouimette and Tom Rooney lead cast of Waiting for Godot

WAITING FOR GODOT | DIRECTED BY JENNIFER TARVER | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JUNE 13 | OPENS JUNE 27 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: SYLVIA D. CHROMINSKA

Jennifer Tarver’s production of Waiting for Godot will feature Stephen Ouimette as Estragon and Tom Rooney as Vladimir. As previously announced, Brian Dennehy will play Pozzo. Randy Hughson will play Lucky.

Lucy Peacock stars in Judith Thompson’s The Thrill

THE THRILL | DIRECTED BY DEAN GABOURIE | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 28 | OPENS AUGUST 13 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22

Lucy Peacock will play the leading role of Elora in the world première of Judith Thompson’s The Thrill, which was commissioned by the Festival and will be directed by Dean Gabourie. She will be joined by Nigel Bennett as Julian.

Luke Humphrey to take Shakespeare from Martha Henry

TAKING SHAKESPEARE | DIRECTED BY DIANA LEBLANC | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 13 | OPENS JULY 30 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. NANCY EPSTEIN & DR. DAVID GOLDBLOOM

As previously announced, Martha Henry will play the Prof in John Murrell’s new play Taking Shakespeare, directed by Diana Leblanc. Luke Humphrey has been cast as the student, Murph.

Tickets for the 2013 season will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11 and to the public on January 5. The 2012 season concludes on October 28, with tickets still available for Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street, The Matchmaker, The Pirates of Penzance and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Festival welcomes new talent to Birmingham Conservatory

September 10, 2012… The 14th session of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre begins this week, with 10 actors embarking on five months of intensive training under the direction of Martha Henry.

Four participants are returning for their second year in the program: Sarah Afful, Brad Hodder, Ruby Joy and Dylan Trowbridge. Company member Mike Nadajewski, who has recently returned from the Broadway run of Jesus Christ Superstar, joins the program for a first year, along with Festival newcomers Josue Laboucane, Andrew Robinson, Sabryn Rock, Dorcas Sowunmi and Antoine Yared.

“Twenty-five members of the 2012 acting company came out of the Conservatory,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “This training program has helped to launch the careers of some of our leading actors, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of directing. The Festival company is among the finest in the world and I hope to find many more opportunities to work with these extraordinarily talented performers.”

“These young actors have a magnificent experience ahead of them,” says General Director and Artistic Director designate Antoni Cimolino. “They will train with Martha Henry, one of Canada’s most accomplished actors, directors and teachers, and the world’s top voice, movement and text coaches. When they emerge from this rigorous program, they will be well prepared to perform on the world’s great stages – beginning, of course, with our own here in Stratford.”

“Several young, vigorous artists have been selected this past year from across the country by Des McAnuff, Antoni Cimolino and myself,” says Ms Henry. “They will all become a vital part of the 2013 season, and perhaps many seasons to come.”

The Birmingham Conservatory is the only program in North America that concentrates exclusively on training for the classical actor within a classical repertory theatre. All Conservatory members are offered contracts for the subsequent Festival season.

The Conservatory gives participants an opportunity to work with the finest instructors from across the country, including David Latham and Janine Pearson. Cicely Berry will come from the Royal Shakespeare Company to do a voice and text workshop in September. The training also includes the presentation of a classical work in December, directed by Christopher Newton, and a final presentation in February, directed by Jennifer Tarver.

The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is made possible by the support of the Birmingham family, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Endowment Foundation and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Supporting the 2013 in-season work of Birmingham Conservatory participants is The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.

Biographies

Sarah Afful, Vancouver

Stratford: Appears in The Pirates of Penzance and Elektra. Training: Most recently, the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre; Sarah began at Tarlington Training, Crichlow Actors’ Studio, the Lyric School of Acting and under Andrew McIlroy in Vancouver and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s BFA Acting program. Elsewhere: Theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra (Bard on the Beach); Macbeth: Nach Shakespeare (Theatre Conspiracy/Gas Heart); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Pound of Flesh/Pacific Theatre); The Eighth Land (PI Theatre); and Old Goriot (Western Gold/UBC Theatre). Film/TV: Credits include Smallville, Caprica, Eureka, The Perfect Score, American Dreams and numerous commercials. Recordings: Voice work includes Days of Old (Pod Play, Neworld Theatre) and other Pod Plays for CBC. Et cetera: Sarah is a Ghanaian-Canadian and comes to Stratford from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Brad Hodder, St. John’s, NL

Stratford: Second Gentleman/First Briton Captain in Cymbeline, appears in Elektra and understudy in The Matchmaker. Selected Theatre: Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (Neptune Theatre); Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Grand Theatre); Paul in Hail (RCAT); Freder in Pains of Youth, Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Ernest in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (c2c theatre); Harold in Black Comedy (Rabbittown); Sin in Fear of Flight (Artistic Fraud); Clarke in No Man’s Land, Sebastian in The Tempest (Rising Tide); Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew (New Curtain); Chebutykin in Three Sisters (Studio Theatre). Directing: Henry IV, Part 1, Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New World Theatre Project); The Leisure Society, Autobahn, The Stendhal Syndrome (c2c). Film/TV: Republic of Doyle, Diverted, Above and Beyond (CBC). Training: BFA in Acting, University of Alberta. Et cetera: Founding Associate of c2c theatre and New World Theatre Project.

Ruby Joy, Toronto

Stratford:  Helen in Cymbeline and appears in The Matchmaker. Elsewhere: The Tempest (Theatre by the Bay), Hamlet and The Winter’s Tale (Theatre80 St. Marks), Evolutionism (The Schapiro Theatre), Look Back in Anger (The Old Stone House), Sex and the Holy Land (The Players Theatre), The Libertine (Robert Moss Theater). Film/TV: Chantel in Republic of Doyle (CBC), Audrey in Oddly Flowers (CFC). Training: Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Website: www.rubyjoy.net.

Josue Laboucane, Vancouver

Elsewhere: Henry VI in Henry VI: Wars of the Roses; Richard III; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Measure for Measure; Hamlet; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Julius Caesar; Timon of Athens (Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival); Revenge (Felix Culpa); Zachary in The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre); Carnage (Pi Theatre); Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Toad in A Year with Frog and Toad, Horton in Seussica; Robin Hood; Bird Brain; Pharaoh Serket; Silverwing (Carousel Theatre); The Emperor’s New Threads (Axis Theatre). Training: Studio 58, the Canadian National Voice Intensive. Awards: Six Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominations and one win, and the Sydney J. Risk Award. Et cetera: Josue is also a teacher, emerging director (BC Buds, Alley Theatre, Walking Fish) and mask maker (Carousel Theatre, Vancouver Opera).

Mike Nadajewski, Stratford (via Toronto)

Stratford: Mordred in Camelot, Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar, Mike in Jacques Brel, Hero in Forum, Amiens in As You Like It, Glad Hand in West Side Story. Elsewhere: Jesus Christ Superstar (Broadway); Forum (Mirvish); Happy End, The President, The Yalta Game, Hotel Peccadillo, Mack & Mabel (Shaw Festival); Fiddler on the Roof (MTC); Cotton Patch Gospel, Lend Me a Tenor, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drayton Entertainment); Pélagie (Canadian Stage, NAC); The Mousetrap (Saidye Bronfman Centre); Harvest Moon Rising, One Night Stand (Talk Is Free Theatre); Larry’s Party (Canadian Stage, NAC, MTC); Little Women (Victoria Playhouse); ’Twas (Theatre Orangeville); Emily (Charlottetown Festival). Et cetera: Co-founder of Talk Is Free Theatre, based in Barrie, Ontario.

Andrew Robinson, Toronto

Elsewhere: Menelaos in Ajax in Afghanistan, Dancer in The Intuition of Iphigenia (Women and War Project – Greece tour: Athens, Hydra, Delphi, Elefsina); Groom in Machina Nuptialis (Corpus Dance Projects/Regency Theatre – Ontario tour); Dionysus in The Bacchae (Hydrama Centre – Hydra Island, Greece); Echo/Narcisszeus in Divorce Play or Russian Dolls (Rhubarb/Buddies); Chorus in Tightrope (2boys.tv/Buddies); Duckett/Merrisson/John/Major/Gleason in Serious Money (Nightwood/Ryerson); Wolf/Soldier in Bent (Theatre Engine). Training: Ryerson Theatre School. Et cetera: Andrew grew up in Scarborough. He has dreamed of acting in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for his entire career. He dedicates this season to his mother, Anita, whose constant support has made every dream a possibility.

Sabryn Rock, Toronto

Elsewhere: Emmie in Caroline, or Change (Acting Up Stage/Obsidian Theatre); Sophie in Ruined (Obsidian/Nightwood Theatre); Lady Baa in The Passion of Adele Hugo (Eastern Front Theatre); Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, Regan in King Lear (Driftwood Theatre); Dead Ahead, El Numero Uno (YPT); Little Shop of Horrors (Persephone Theatre); HONK!, Just So (Globe Theatre). Film/TV: Principal in The Story of Luke (feature film); guest appearances on The Listener, Degrassi, Flashpoint, Against the Wall. Radio: Rumours – What’s the Use? (CBC Radio). Training: Sabryn is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. Awards: Dora nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Musical for Caroline, or Change.

Dorcas Sowunmi, Chicago

Elsewhere: Lady Macduff/First Witch in Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Viney in The Miracle Worker at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Louise in Trust at Lookingglass Theatre, Barbra in I, Barbra Jordan at The Alley Theatre. Film/TV: Chicago Code (Twentieth Century Fox), Checkout (GinJar Productions). Training: The School at Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois); Stella Adler Actor’s Studio (New York); MFA in Acting, The University of Texas at Austin. Et cetera: Dorcas is honoured to be at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She would like to thank her mother, Lydia, and family and friends for their love and support!

Dylan Trowbridge, Toronto

Stratford: Titus Andronicus, The Grapes of Wrath. Elsewhere: Directing: The Big Game (The Tennessee Williams Project). Acting: Dirty Dancing (West End and Mirvish); Rutherford and Son, Widowers’ Houses, The Coronation Voyage, Lord of the Flies, The Matchmaker, Detective Story and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (Shaw Festival); Escape from Happiness, Tideline (Factory Theatre); Vinci (Canadian Stage); Tiny Dynamite (Theatre Smash); Return: The Sarajevo Project (Dora nomination), Mojo (Theatrefront); Swimming in the Shallows (Buddies in Bad Times); Grace (Platform 9); Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Repercussion Theatre); Henry V (Shakespeare by the Sea). Film/TV: Deputy Sheriff “Nose” in the new Netflix series Hemlock Grove; recurring role on Copper; Warehouse 13; Murdoch Mysteries. Training: Birmingham Conservatory. Et cetera: Dylan is a founding member of the award-winning Toronto-based company Theatrefront.

Antoine Yared, Montreal

Elsewhere: The Fox in Pinocchio, Trent Dolin in Smokescreen and various characters in Alice Through the Looking Glass (Geordie Productions); Justin in Jesus Jello (Sheep in Fog); Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Touchstone in As You Like It and Stefano in The Tempest (Repercussion Theatre); Galoshin in Provincial Anecdotes (Concordia University). Film/TV: Boucherie Halal (Babek Aliassa); Apartment 1103 (Michele Taverna); Open (Tom Abray). Recordings: Kojiro Sasaki Samurai Warriors 2 (KOEI). Training: Dawson College, Concordia University. Awards: 2010 Elsa Bolam Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Emerging Artist. Et cetera: Antoine was born in Lebanon. After spending a few years in Saudi Arabia he eventually moved to Montreal at the age of five. His parents were with him.

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Press Release: Jesus Christ Superstar to move to La Jolla Playhouse

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce that its hit production of Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, is moving to La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego this November.

Lyricist Tim Rice and Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber both gave the production high praise after seeing it earlier this month and the production received glowing reviews across the board.

The Globe and Mail raved, “This production is an absolute miracle,” while the Toronto Star called it “the best show you’ll see this year.” “A sparkling production literally pulsing with life,” wrote the Toronto Sun; and Variety enthused, “McAnuff has managed to come up with a vision that is faithful to the original but manages to make it seem fresh to an audience in 2011.”

Jesus Christ Superstar will play at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre from November 18 to December 31.

“Given my long, happy and fruitful history with La Jolla Playhouse, I am naturally thrilled by the prospect of this collaboration between our two great theatres,” says Mr. McAnuff. “The pride I take in the magnificent work being done by our Festival artists in Jesus Christ Superstar is matched by my deep appreciation to La Jolla for giving us this wonderful opportunity to showcase that work to an audience of which I am very fond – an audience that, like Stratford’s, is accustomed to enjoying some of the finest theatre in the world.”

“We are absolutely delighted that we will be able to share this production with La Jolla Playhouse audiences,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Jesus Christ Superstar has created a huge buzz in the media and the show has become one of our hottest tickets. It’s a pleasure to work with our colleagues in La Jolla to take this ‘Superstar’ on the road.”

“We are absolutely overjoyed to showcase the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s stunning revival of Jesus Christ Superstar on our stage,” says Christopher Ashley, the Artistic Director for La Jolla Playhouse. “We have been looking for an opportunity to bring Des back home to the Playhouse, and this project was perfect in every way. I can’t wait to share this critically acclaimed production of this classic rock musical with our audiences.”

Set as an epic rock concert, this sensational new production of the ground-breaking rock opera features Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Josh Young as Judas Iscariot, Tony Award winner Brent Carver as Pontius Pilate, Bruce Dow as King Herod and Mike Nadajewski as Peter.

In addition to Mr. McAnuff as Director, the creative team includes Choreographer Lisa Shriver, Musical Director Rick Fox, Set Designer Robert Brill, Costume Designer Paul Tazewell, Lighting Designer Howell Binkley, Sound Designer Jim Neil, Video Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, Dramaturge Chad Sylvain, Fight Director Daniel Levinson, Aerial Stunt Coordinator Simon Fon, Associate Choreographer Bradley “Shooz” Rapier, Associate Musical Director Laura Burton, Assistant Director Lezlie Wade and Assistant Choreographer Marc Kimelman.

Before joining the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as Artistic Director, Mr. McAnuff was Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse from 1983 to 1994 and 2001 to 2007 and is now Director Emeritus. A two-time Tony Award-winning director, Mr. McAnuff received an honorary doctorate in June from his alma mater, Ryerson University in Toronto.

The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and is one of the most respected not-for-profit theatres in the U.S. Numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including Jersey Boys, Big River, The Who’s Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, and The Farnsworth Invention, all of which were directed by Mr. McAnuff.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris ~ Preview Performance

Jacques Brel thumbnail Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris Brent Carver as Brent Photo by: Andrew Eccles

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Production conception, English lyrics and additional material by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman
Based on Jacques Brel’s lyrics and commentary
Music by Jacques Brel

May 14 to September 25 ~ Opening June 11

I recently attended the second preview of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Having enjoyed the music of Jacques Brel for many years, I was thrilled to find this show on our playbill for the 2010 season and was really excited at the prospect of seeing it.

Jacques Brel is different from the other musicals you’ll see at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival this season. It’s best described as a musical revue, which means that it’s purely a compilation of songs, without an overall story linking them all together. This is a bit of a milestone for the Festival: although we’ve presented musical revues before, we haven’t done so since the 1970s, and even then they were usually programmed as ancillary events, with only a few performances. Jacques Brel, though, is a full-blown part of the playbill – and the intimate Tom Patterson Theatre is the perfect setting for a cabaret-style show like this.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, Jacques Brel was a Belgian singer-songwriter whose songs tell stories not just of love but of the whole human experience. He first won renown – and a prestigious award – while he was living in Paris, and he went on to become an international star. The way his music speaks to the soul has influenced many other artists, including Leonard Cohen and David Bowie.

When you enter the Tom Patterson Theatre, you’re transported to a cabaret space that feels like it’s been abandoned for years and filled with the spirits of a bygone era. Those spirits, as if by magic, are made flesh in the performers – Jewelle Blackman, Brent Carver, Mike Nadajewski and Nathalie Nadon (the singers), along with Laura Burton, Anna Atkinson, George Meanwell and Luc Michaud (the orchestra) – from the moment they ritualistically enter the performing space.

By turns haunting and humorous but always beautiful, each of the songs tells an individual story, sometimes played out on stage and sometimes left for the audience to imagine. For this production, the Festival’s Director of Music, Rick Fox, has re-orchestrated the songs to give them more of the cabaret flavour they had when Brel originally performed them. Here are just some of the wonderful numbers you’ll hear: “Timid Frieda,” “Le Moribond” (which some of you may know from its English-language version, “Seasons in the Sun”), “Amsterdam” (once covered by David Bowie), “The Bulls” and “Carousel.”

When I saw this show, it was a cool gray day in Stratford – but when I came out, I felt like I was in Paris in the spring. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening, so be sure to catch it. Jacques Brel runs till September 25 at the Tom Patterson Theatre.