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!

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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.

Festival marks anniversary with opening of Henry V

July 9, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival continues to mark its 60th season this week with the world premières of three Canadian plays and the opening of Artistic Director Des McAnuff’s production of Henry V. The Festival has been heralded recently throughout North America as a top destination for travel and culture, giving it even more reason to celebrate.

Henry V, featuring Aaron Krohn in the title role, will open on Friday, July 13, the Festival’s anniversary. Wednesday sees the opening of Wanderlust, a new musical commissioned by the Festival from Morris Panych and Marek Norman, based on the poetry of Robert Service. Daniel MacIvor’s new play The Best Brothers, workshopped at the Festival and directed by Associate Artistic Director Dean Gabourie, opens Thursday afternoon, followed that evening by Hirsch, which celebrates the life and career of former Artistic Director John Hirsch. Developed at Stratford over the past three years, Hirsch was created and conceived by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson.

“One of my proudest achievements at the Festival is to have mounted a celebratory 60th season that features Canadian works in such abundance,” says Mr. McAnuff, who concludes his tenure as Artistic Director at the end of 2012 and was recently appointed to the Order of Canada. “Fully 50 per cent of the productions on our playbill this year are written by Canadians. They represent an enormous range of dramatic genres, showcasing the talent that has developed in Canada’s rich theatrical landscape since the founding of the Festival 60 years ago.”

“This second round of openings heralds the beginning of the summer season in Stratford,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino, who has been named the Festival’s next Artistic Director. “We have recently been showcased as a top destination by a number of influential media outlets, establishing even further the appeal of this idyllic city. We hope people recognize what an ideal vacation spot Stratford is and include a visit to the Festival in their holiday plans. This year’s productions have won critical acclaim across the board and have been delighting audiences since the season began in April.”

Inspired by the success of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, The New York Times visited Stratford this spring and trumpeted the joys of the city and the Festival in its travel section in June. NPR (National Public Radio) in the U.S. has chosen to include Stratford in a feature of five significant cultural destinations in North America, the only one in Canada. Frommer’s included Stratford as a Top 10 Canadian Summer Vacation Destination; Reader’s Digest featured Stratford in its Top 10 Canadian Road Trips; and Trip Advisor named Stratford one of Canada’s Top 10 Cultural Destinations. Stratford has also been chosen as an iconic Canadian experience for travel writer Robin Esrock’s upcoming book The Great Canadian Bucket List.

Next to open this season is A Word or Two, written, arranged and performed by Christopher Plummer, which is being presented as a special 60th season event. Directed by Mr. McAnuff, the production, which begins previews on July 25 and opens August 2, is an autobiographical journey through the literature that has stirred the actor’s imagination since youth. Mr. Plummer, who this year won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in the film Beginners, is one of the Festival’s most lauded alumni, first appearing at Stratford in 1956 in the title role of Henry V. This will be the third collaboration between Mr. Plummer and Mr. McAnuff at the Festival; their first two projects, Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Mr. Plummer played Julius Caesar, and The Tempest, in which he played Prospero, have also been captured on film for cinematic release.

The season’s final offering, Sophokles’ Elektra, translated by Canadian poet Anne Carson, will open August 11, featuring Yanna McIntosh in the title role and Seana McKenna as Clytemestra.

In addition to Henry V, the season features two other Shakespeares – Cymbeline, directed by Mr. Cimolino, which is being praised as one of the finest ever productions of this challenging classic, and Much Ado About Nothing. Three musicals are also on stage – 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – as well as Thornton Wilder’s comedy The Matchmaker, which is being hailed as the feel-good show of the year. The War of 1812, by Canadian playwright Michael Hollingsworth, opened on Canada Day, and MacHomer, created and performed by Rick Miller, enjoyed a limited engagement at Stratford in May.

The Festival marked its 60th season by publishing Stratford Behind the Scenes, a full-colour book that reveals the complexities of season planning and captures the superb artistry carried out by the Festival’s costumes, props, sets and wigs departments. An ebook of Stratford Behind the Scenes will be launched this summer.

An archival exhibition, Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, is open to the public daily at 104 Downie Street, across from the Avon Theatre. It features costumes, unique artefacts and props, plus rare footage and new interviews with key players in the Festival’s history

Since its founding 60 years ago, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival has welcomed more than 25 million visitors. Originally conceived as an economic stimulus for the community, the Festival now generates about $140 million in economic activity annually. It employs 1,000 people and creates 3,000 full-year jobs.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28. To purchase tickets, visit www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com or call 1.800.567.1600.

See your Festival favourites in a live masterclass with renowned teacher Patsy Rodenburg!

by Lisa Middleton

If you’re going to be in Stratford on Wednesday, July 18, I want to invite you to a very special event!  World-renowned voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenburg will be hosting a live masterclass with six Festival favourites: Bethany JillardSeana McKennaGareth PotterTom RooneyTyrone Savage and Sophia Walker.

The work of vocal coaching is an integral part of an actor’s preparation for the stage and usually done behind closed doors. Here at the Festival we have provided actors with training in voice and text since our very first season. Ours is the longest-running coaching program of its kind in the English-speaking world – so what better way to celebrate our 60th season than to host an international leader in the fields of voice and Shakespeare!

Ms Rodenburg isn’t a stranger to the Festival. John Hirsch, Artistic Director of the Festival from 1981 to 1985, first brought her to Stratford to work with the company during his tenure. Patsy coached many fabulous Festival veterans, Nicholas Pennell among them. Throughout the years we have been lucky enough to have Ms Rodenburg visit as a guest coach, and we’re honoured to have her back with us to celebrate our 60th season.

Here’s a clip of Patsy Rodenburg giving two powerful reasons why she does theatre.

Here’s a bit more information about Ms Rodenburg:
Patsy Rodenburg, OBE, has been the Director of Voice at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London for 26 years and until recently at the Royal National Theatre. She trained in Voice Studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama and is recognized as one of the world’s leading voice teachers and coaches, and also as a renowned authority on Shakespeare. Patsy has worked regularly with the best-known actors of the British theatre, including Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Daniel Day-Lewis, to name a few, as well as many of the biggest stars of film and television, such as Nicole Kidman, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Jackman and Natalie Portman. She was previously in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company for nine years and has worked with The Royal Court Theater, Donmar and Almeida Theater in London. She has also worked extensively with many of the great world theatres, such as the Moscow Art Theatre and Comédie-Française.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to see Ms Rodenburg work with our company members. Join us on July 18 at 11:00 a.m. at the Studio Theatre! Tickets are $35 and are available through our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600 or through our website.

Support for Patsy Rodenburg’s visit to the Festival generously provided by Riki Turofsky and Charles Petersen.

It’s official – we’ve started our 60th season!

By:Lisa Middleton

After five months of darkened stages, empty lobbies and frosty evenings, we’ve started our 60th season!  Yesterday 42nd Street took the stage for its first preview, and it was amazing! What a celebratory way to kick things off —a perfect show for our diamond jubilee (sparkle included!). We know that the rest of the season will be just as thrilling. Here are some things to watch for while you plan your visit and some activities and shows you won’t want to miss!

P.S.  Shakespeare’s birthday is just around the corner – 448 years young – and we’re celebrating with a special gift to all our fans. Find out more next week!