Celebrate 60 at the Festival one more time!

by Lisa Middleton

We can’t believe that there are only ten days left in our 2012 season – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to join us for one or two last hoorahs! With 25 performances left, you can enjoy one of these brilliant 60th season productions: The Matchmaker, Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

There’s always something special about the final performances of a run – the energy is great. I love coming to these performances to see how a show matures over the season, and I am always pleasantly surprised. Since it will be five long months until I see another production on the Festival’s stages, I always make sure I soak up every last second of the fun!

Here are a few of the moments I am excited to experience one last time before we bid our 60th season adieu on October 28.

  1. Taking my daughter to see You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown one last time!  We’ve become Peanuts-obsessed at chez Middleton this season!

  2. Enjoying a performance of The Matchmaker on October 25 with our fabulous social media followers. Want to join us? Click here to get $20.12 tickets and to join me and our Social Marketing Coordinator, Christi Rutledge, at our pre-show reception – good food, good friends and lots of laughs thanks to The Matchmaker!

  3. Getting to meet those “dancing feet” again! I love a good musical and I love tap dancing, and the cast of 42nd Street deliver both amazingly well.

  4. Watching real-life married couple Ben Carlson and Deb Hay fall in love on stage as the feuding foes Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

  5. Listening to the wonderfully funny songs of The Pirates of Penzance ! I’ll be there tomorrow with my daughter – if you’re in the audience I’d love to meet you at intermission, just tweet to me at @stratfest!

There’s still time before the curtain closes, folks! I’ll see you at the theatre!

p.s. If you’re not able to make it, you still have 10 days to enjoy all of the wonderful production footage we have posted on our YouTube channel!


Win tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing tomorrow afternoon! CONTEST OVER

Do you want to win a pair of tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing tomorrow afternoon, August 21, at 2 p.m.? We’re giving away thirty pairs of tickets to see this delicious Shakespearean comedy, and you could be one of the winners!

If you’ve been to the Festival before, you undoubtedly know how beautiful our gardens are. Each year our head gardener, Anita Jacobson, creates a beautiful carpet bed featuring symbols or pictures that represent some of the plays from our season.

More than 2500 plants are used to make the designs in the carpet garden. This year’s bed features a nine-foot-by-nine-foot diamond in tribute of the Festival’s sixtieth season. Inside of and bordering the centre diamond are five symbols, representing at least one production from each of our four theatres: the Festival, the Avon, the Tom Patterson and the Studio. View the full 2012 playbill here.

Below are pictures of the carpet bed designs for 2012. If you connect all of the symbols to the correct productions, you could be one of the lucky ones who receives a pair of tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing tomorrow afternoon!*

Here’s what you need to do to qualify:

E-mail socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca with the information requested below:

1) Full Name
2 ) Stratford Shakespeare Festival account number (You can find this when you log in to www.stratfordfestival.ca and click on “My Account”)
3) Correctly identify each design with the production it belongs to

Design 1: ________________
Design 2: ________________
Design 3: ________________
Design 4: ________________
Design 5: ________________

Design 1: *Hint – Studio Theatre

Design 2: *Hint – Avon Theatre

Design 3: * Hint: Tom Patterson Theatre

Design 4: *Hint – Avon Theatre

Design 5: *Hint – Festival Theatre

*Please note: failure to include any of the information listed above will render your entry null and void.

Festival Theatre magic – for just $35!

by Lisa Middleton

One of the (many) amazing things about the Festival is the variety of shows that theatregoers get to experience.  In the span of two days, you can see four different productions on the very same stage – where else does that happen?! This season, 42nd Street (a splashy tap musical), Henry V (a powerful Shakespearean history play), The Matchmaker (a delicious farcical romp) and Much Ado About Nothing (one of Shakespeare’s  high comedies) can all been seen on the Festival stage within a span of forty-eight hours!

I love seeing the stage transform from

This…  To this…

To this…

To this…

With every changeover, you step into another world!

Join us between August 19 and September 1 and see any show at the Festival Theatre (or all of them) for just $35!* Hurry, this great offer expires on September 1!

To order tickets, follow these simple instructions:

1) Log into our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page with promotion code 45461 (or create an account and log in with the same promotion code)
2)  Select any performance of 42nd Street, Henry V, The Matchmaker or Much Ado About Nothing between August 19 and September 1, 2012
3) Choose “$35 Festival Theatre” as the price type and select your seats in A, B or C seating zones
4) Check out
5) Enjoy the show!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available online through our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Offer is only valid for productions on the Festival Theatre stage from August 19 to September 1.  Promotion ends on September 1. Some conditions apply.

Beyond the Stage: Festival Friday Chats | Late Night with Gilbert and Sullivan

by Madeleine Brown

I’m more early bird than night owl, but when the opportunity arises to have a late-night chat with some of the company members in Stratford’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, I’m willing to push my bedtime back.

Festival Friday Chats are free 30-minute post-show Q&A periods with the cast members of Festival productions. It’s the ideal opportunity to get the insider scoop on the show you just watched – or, in my case, a little late night entertainment. (You don’t have to have been to the performance to attend.)

I arrive in the Chalmers Lounge at the Avon Theatre by 10:00 p.m., suitably dressed in my blue starred pajama bottoms. The production’s finale is traveling through the auditorium into the Lounge. Curling up in one of the white leather armchairs, I think, I’ll just close my eyes for a second…

The theatre doors burst open, and I almost burst out of my seat.

The empty chairs arranged in the Chalmers Lounge fill in. Four cast members are close behind the crowd: Jennifer Stewart, Ayrin Mackie, Geoffrey Tyler and Kyle Blair.

Aside from an Avon Theatre usher keeping time on the sidelines, there’s no barrier between us and the company members. The cast is lively and energetic, and the audience is just as excited. They ask questions till a group conversation forms. My sleepiness is fading – I might just be able to pull off this late-night routine.

Mr. Blair tells us his favourite part of the show is singing “Oh, is there not one maiden breast?” to the female chorus.

“The girls are so present and there is such a feeling of ensemble,” he says.

Ms Mackie laughs, “Well it’s easy when you have someone wonderful like Kyle singing to you.”

An audience member asks the cast to define steampunk, the style on which the production’s design is based. They can tell us now, but admit they didn’t know what it was when they began rehearsing. (FYI Steampunk is inspired by 19th-century design, with added mechanical elements. Props specialist Eric Ball describes it in the video below.)

We also talk about things like the Festival’s audition and rehearsal processes, and the actors’ lives outside the Festival.

The event is truly a ‘chat.’ It’s relaxed, casual and completely open. I’ve had such a good time that by the end of it all at 10:30 p.m., I’ve forgotten that my usual bedtime has come and gone.

However, I head straight to bed when I get home, falling asleep to the sounds of Pirates:

“Hush, hush, not a word!”

Festival Friday Chats are free half-hour Q&A sessions with members of the Festival acting company. They occur following selected evening performances at their respective theatres on Friday nights in July and August. Join us for our upcoming chats with company members of The Matchmaker, The Pirates of Penzance, and Much Ado About Nothing! Dates and theatres are listed on our website.

Beat the heat with our midsummer sale!

by Lisa Middleton

“My Oberon! what visions have I seen!/ Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.” — William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Does this hot weather have you seeing crazy things? Then it’s time to get out of the sun with the Festival’s midsummer sale! What better way to beat this heat than with $39 tickets* to selected shows between now and August 4!

Join us on any of the dates below at this special summer rate!

 Here’s how to place your order!
  1. Log into our website with promotion code 44972
  2. Select any performance from the list above on our calendar
  3. Once you’ve selected a date, ensure you have the “promotion” price type selected from the drop-down menu
  4. Select your seats
  5. Complete your orderOR

Purchase your tickets using Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page!

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

Beyond the Stage: Star Talks ‘Cynthia Dale xo’

by Madeleine Brown

I am not one of those giddy fans.

Well, maybe I am… when Cynthia Dale is the star in question.

I arrive “just in time” (“late” is such a negative word) at the Festival Theatre Lobby for Star Talks: in-person interviews by the Toronto Star’s Chief Theatre Critic, Richard Ouzounian, with Festival company members.

The chairs arranged around the Lobby stage in the Festival Theatre are filled. The chairs from the Lobby Café are filled. The space that is not occupied with chairs is filled. Adults, teenagers, and children.

Cameras flash from the audience—even Mr. Ouzounian has his. I wish I hadn’t been too embarrassed to bring mine.

Ms Dale enters in white. The audience applauds. A man whistles. I grin.

I promise I am not one of those giddy fans.

From my seat in the back row I’m only a few feet from Ms Dale and Mr. Ouzounian. I’m delighted: such an event would usually occur in a distant radio or television studio. However, in this case the only thing separating me from a Stratford leading lady and a top theatre critic is a couple of rows of chairs.

The pair has known each other for 35 years, or as Mr. Ouzounian describes it, since “she had cheeks… when she was a child.” Their close relationship is reflected in the interview, which is casual and conversational. Mr. Ouzounian’s questions are in-depth and honest. They discuss Ms Dale’s time away from the Festival and what it is like for her now returning as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street. Ms Dale reminisces about stepping onto the Festival Stage for the first time and being reduced to tears at last season’s production of Camelot (Ms Dale played Guenevere in the 1997 production).

Mr. Ouzounian’s questions nicely lead into an audience Q&A period. My fellow audience members ask, “Would you ever go on Mansbridge One on One?” (the host, Peter Mansbridge, is Ms Dale’s husband), “How old is your son?” and “How do you manage to keep bumping into C. David Johnson?” (the pair most famously worked together on the television series Street Legal, as well as in the Festival production of The Sound of Music). Without a moment’s hesitation, Ms Dale graciously answers the questions. The atmosphere in the room is reminiscent of old friends catching up after years passed.

As it must, the talk eventually wraps up. I’m on my way out when I notice a discarded 42nd Street program on a Lobby Café table. My eyes dart back to the Lobby stage. Ms Dale is still there. She takes pictures with fans and gives autographs.

I hesitate.

Just for a second.

I grab the program, sprint to Ms Dale and hand her my pen.

She signs, “Cynthia Dale xo.”

When I get home I display the program on the top shelf of my bookcase.

Star Talks is a series of interviews by the Toronto Star’s Chief Theatre Critic, Richard Ouzounian, with selected company members, followed by audience Q&A periods. They occur after Sunday matinée performances in the Festival Theatre Lobby. Mr. Ouzounian will interview Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay, who play Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, on July 29 and will also interview Christopher Plummer on August 26 in the Avon Theatre (auditorium) following his closing performance.

If you like Star Talks you may also enjoy Exhibition Talks, Festival Friday Chats, and Meet the Festival.

Celebrate our 60th season with 1953 pricing!

by Lisa Middleton

This Friday we’ll be celebrating the Festival’s birthday! On July 13, 1953, Festival founder Tom Patterson’s “big idea” became a reality when our inaugural performance of Richard III – directed by Tyrone Guthrie and starring Alec Guinness and Irene Worth – took to the stage. Fifty-nine years later, Mr. Patterson’s dream of starting a classical theatre to revitalize a struggling industry town remains one of the most inspirational stories of Canadian theatre!

From its humble beginnings in a tent along the Avon River to its current status as the largest classical repertory theatre in North America (and the second-largest Shakespeare festival in the world) the Festival has come a long way in its sixty seasons. Our five venues have welcomed more than 25 million visitors over the years – and that certainly gives us cause for celebration!

Want to learn more about the Stratford story, starting with that “glorious summer” way back in 1953? Read it here!

Stratford Shakespeare Festival: 1953

Stratford Shakespeare Festival: Present Day

Celebrate our big 6-0 with 1953 pricing!
Buy one full-priced ticket to any performance of Henry V or Much Ado About Nothing in July or August, and receive your second ticket for the rate you would have paid during our first season –  $6 for A+ seating, $4 for A seating, $3 for B seating and $1 for C seating! Hurry, this retro promotion only lasts until our birthday, July 13, at midnight!

Here’s how to order your tickets!
1)      Log into our website with promotion code 44739
2)      Select any July or August performance of Henry V  or Much Ado About Nothing from our calendar
3)      Set the price type to ADULT using the drop-down menu at the top of the “Select Your Seats” page
4)      Select your seats (the promotion will be applied to your order automatically when you choose your second seat)
5)      Complete your transaction
6)      Enjoy the show!

Share a special memory from one of the past fifty-nine seasons in the comment box below!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available through our Box Office, our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Offer is only valid for Festival Theatre Shakespeare plays in July and August. Promotion ends on July 13 at 11:59 p.m. Some conditions apply.