Romeo and Juliet – The Rehearsal Blogs Pt. II

Live theatre is never static. From its early rehearsal days to its grand opening and subsequent run of performances, the life of a show evolves. How do the actors keep each performance fresh, while honouring the director’s vision? The Education Department has asked some actors from this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tim Carroll, to share with us their experiences and discoveries while rehearsing and performing the play.

Skye Brandon plays Benvolio in this season’s production. He shares with us some of his behind-the-scenes experiences during the run of Romeo and Juliet.
_________________________________________________________________________

by Skye Brandon

We are now nearing the end of the 2013 season and I’m finding it hard to believe how far our Romeo and Juliet has come since we started rehearsals back in late February. I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of a show that has remained as faithful to the director’s vision, while at the same time grown in leaps and bounds.

From Left: Daniel Briere as Romeo, Skye Brandon as Benvolio, and Tyrone Savage as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by David Hou.

From Left: Daniel Briere as Romeo, Skye Brandon as Benvolio, and Tyrone Savage as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by David Hou.

One of the biggest changes we had to deal with was the loss of our Lord Capulet. The very talented Scott Wentworth ended up taking on the role of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice when Brian Bedford had to step out for health reasons. For a number of weeks Scott was getting his Shylock ready while still playing Capulet as well as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. You could see the fatigue wearing him down. So eventually the decision was made to release Scott from Romeo and Juliet, which meant Wayne Best took over as Capulet, Robert King became Montague and André Morin became Abraham. There is no doubt in my mind that we were able to make that transition so easily because of the rehearsal process we had with our director, Tim Carroll. He told us, and reminded us throughout the season, that although he gave us specific guidelines in how to approach the text, he still wants us to keep exploring and ultimately have fun while we do it. That approach has prepared the ensemble for anything.

And we have been having fun performing this show, despite the fact that it is a tragedy. No two shows are exactly the same. For me personally, I’ve had a couple of performances where I changed my entrance (when I knew it wouldn’t affect the previous scene); and I had the realization just over halfway through our run that during Capulet’s feast we could ask any lady to dance. We all learned the same choreography, so what was to stop us from asking someone different to dance each show? Something as simple as changing dance partners has prevented that large group scene from becoming automatic. We honestly don’t know how the dance is going to end up.

And there has been nothing automatic about the scenes either. It may not seem different to audience members who have seen the show more than once, but actors are continually exploring the text and trying slightly different approaches to the delivery. All while honouring Tim’s direction.

This production has been an absolute pleasure to be in. It could be a very long time until I get another chance to be a part of a true ensemble.

_________________________________________________________________________

Want to read more?

Daniel Briere plays Romeo in this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He shares with us his first-day experience of being on the “Tanya Stage,” and the various exercises involved in understanding the power of the narrative and the importance of connecting with the audience and his fellow actors. Click here to read his full blog.

Advertisements

PRESS RELEASE | Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and other legal luminaries to hear Shylock’s appeal

October 3, 2013… Join us Saturday for one of this season’s most exciting Forum events: Shylock Appeals. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, will lead a distinguished panel of judges including Ian Binnie, Earl Cherniak, Patricia Jackson and Dean Mayo Moran, as two prominent lawyers, Sheila Block and Alan Lenczner, argue Shylock’s sentence. Shylock Appeals takes place this Saturday, October 5, at 10:30 a.m. in the Festival Theatre.

This mock trial is one of a number of events being held to shed light on The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s most controversial play about intolerance and vengeance, helmed by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. When the merchant Antonio asks for a loan from the Jewish moneylender Shylock – a man whom he has always treated with contempt – Shylock agrees, but demands a startling collateral: a pound of the merchant’s flesh. When Antonio defaults on the loan, Shylock prepares to take his revenge – only to find that the law is a knife that can cut both ways. The court rules that Shylock may take the flesh as agreed, but “not one jot of blood.” Shylock concedes, only to be threatened with the death penalty for attempted murder, but is pardoned on the condition that he converts to Christianity.

“The case against Shylock has been hotly debated for years,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “As you’ll recall, his last trial didn’t go very well for him, so we have gathered some of the most distinguished members of the Canadian legal community to settle this dispute over a loan default once and for all. For those able to witness this appeal, Shylock’s day in court promises to inspire entertaining discussion.”

Other roles in the trial will be played by Merchant company members, including Wayne Best, Michael Blake, Skye Brandon, Daniel Briere, Shane Carty, Tyrell Crews, Victor Ertmanis, Michelle Giroux, Jonathan Goad, Andrew Lawrie, Robert King, Tom McCamus, Anand Rajaram, Kaitlyn Riordan, Andrew Robinson, Sabryn Rock, Steven Sutcliffe, Sophia Walker, Scott Wentworth and Antoine Yared.

While admission is free, donations are appreciated. Seating is assigned. To reserve seats, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca. This event will also be available live on Youtube starting at 11 a.m. on October 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQFVWAh2z6o

Support for Shylock Appeals is generously provided by Mary and Guy Pratte.

The Merchant of Venice will be explored through two other Forum events this week:

Shylock Revisited

Factory 163, 163 King Street, Friday, October 4, at 10:30 a.m.

With her fellow company members Sam Moses and Mike Nadajewski, Kate Hennig performs the contentious role of Shylock in excerpts of scenes from The Merchant of Venice. Together with the audience they will explore the surprising shifts in power dynamics that arise from cross-gender casting and from our own assumptions about the roles of Jewish women in society. Directed and moderated by award-winning theatre artist Liza Balkan, each segment will be followed by an audience question period.

Admission: $20.

Exclusive Dinner – SOLD OUT

Friday, October 4, Paul D. Fleck Marquee, Festival Theatre, at 5 p.m.

Enjoy a three-course-meal, complimentary bar and the company of Festival actors at this prominent event for the legal community. Remarks by former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Ian Binnie.

Admission: $95 (including bar and gratuities).

Support for the dinner is provided by Borden Ladner Gervais.

For more information, visit http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/shylockweekend.

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 Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 27, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill, along with more than 150 Forum events.

-30-

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.