Press Release | Fiddler on the Roof extended for an extra week

September 5, 2014… The Stratford Festival is delighted to announce yet another extension to the 2013 season: Fiddler on the Roof, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, will now run until October 27, giving theatregoers an additional week to catch this season’s hit musical.

“Donna has created a  Fiddler for the memory books,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Scott Wentworth presents a Tevye who truly touches our hearts as he balances his devotion to tradition against his daughters’ demands for change. Every member of the cast contributes to this outstanding production, which offers a rare combination of music and dance, humour and warmth.”

In addition to Mr. Wentworth as Tevye, the production features Kate Hennig as his wife, Golde, with 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.

Described by the Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian as “a musical done to perfection” and by the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones as a show “with more than its share of out-of-the-ordinary moments,”  Fiddler on the Roof has been selling to sold-out houses filled with delighted theatregoers since it opened in the spring.

“Director and choreographer Donna Feore’s production of  Fiddler on the Roof bubbles over with [life],” said The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Nestruck. “All the love and pain, joy and sadness of living are found on her stage – and, during a few propulsive dance numbers, even spill right into the audience.”

Adds Mr. Ouzounian: “Forget every  Fiddler on the Roof you have seen. This is something special, a show that makes you laugh and cry. You’ll leave the theatre marvelling at the entertainment quality of the Stratford Festival at its best, yet pondering the essence of the human condition the show reveals underneath.”

Tickets for the following additional performances go on sale to Members of the Festival on Friday, September 6, and to the general public on Saturday:

  • Tuesday, October 22, at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 24, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, October 25, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 26, at 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 27, at 2 p.m.

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 features such beloved songs as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

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.

To reserve tickets for these and other performances, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

The rest of the Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and JulietThe 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.

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Star Talks returns to Stratford | Richard Ouzounian interviews Festival’s leading players

July 5, 2013… The Stratford Festival is pleased to welcome back Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian for a second season of Star Talks in Stratford. The four-part interview series begins this Sunday, July 7, in the Festival lobby, with an interview following the matinee of The Three Musketeers with cast members Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Luke Humphrey and Mike Shara.

Offered as part of the new Forum, a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience, Star Talks gives patrons an exclusive opportunity to get to know the productions through some of the Festival`s most entertaining artists.

“Richard Ouzounian is an engaging conversationalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of theatre, and I am delighted to have him back for another series,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our audiences love to talk about our plays and players, and The Forum is designed to feed that intense interest they have to reflect on the work they see on our stages. Offering more ways to explore, participate and interact with us only enriches their theatre experience and Star Talks is an excellent opportunity to do just that.”

Join Mr. Ouzounian in conversation with various actors and artistic staff after selected matinée performances in July and August:

Sunday, July 7
Festival Theatre Lobby
following the matinée of The Three Musketeers
Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Luke Humphrey, Mike Shara

Thursday, August 8
Festival Theatre Lobby
following the matinée of Fiddler on the Roof
Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino

Tuesday, August 13
Tom Patterson Theatre
following the matinée of Waiting for Godot
Brian Dennehy
This Star Talk is open only to patrons attending the matinée performance of Waiting for Godot.

Sunday, August 25
Festival Theatre Lobby
following the matinée of The Merchant of Venice
Scott Wentworth

In October 2009, the Toronto Star launched Star Talks, a series of public conversations and debates in partnership with the Toronto Public Library. Star Talks includes both one-on-one interviews by Star journalists with leading figures in a variety of fields as well as panels of experts on major issues facing Toronto and the surrounding areas. Thousands of people have attended these events, which have been described (by the Globe and Mail) as competing “with the best of the city’s cultural event circuit.”

Admission is free. Seating is limited.

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 Festival’s new Toronto bus service Stratford Direct is now available twice daily on performance days for only $20 return. Reservations can be made through the box office.

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 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.

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Two Kinds of Tradition | Jr. Guest Blogger Adam Leung

by Adam Leung

On May 11, I spent the day at the Stratford Festival and I saw the plays Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet. The day was quite a long one and I was extremely tired at the end of it, but it was definitely worth it since the plays were great!

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Music has many uses in a play. In Fiddler on the Roof it is used to explain the plot and the characters’ feelings and opinions. For example, Tevye explains in the opening scene with song “Tradition” why he believes tradition to be so important in their lives. He then sings part of this song in the second act to explain why his daughters should not marry men of their own free will but instead should consult the town’s matchmaker.

The song “If I Were a Rich Man” is about what Tevye would do if he owned a fortune. According to Tevye, he would build a big tall house in the middle of the town with plenty of rooms. There would be three staircases in his house, each one more impressive than the last. He also wants to keep several fowl in his yard, to prove that he is extremely rich. While I was listening to “If I Were a Rich Man,” I realized that it is very much like the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” by Barenaked Ladies – right down to the title. Both songs mention what sort of house they would have, what sort of pets they would own, what they would get for their wives and what they would do instead of working all day. So maybe, just maybe, Barenaked Ladies just might owe some credit to Fiddler on the Roof!

Watch Scott Wentworth – Tevye – perform “If I Were a Rich Man”!

The production of Romeo and Juliet at Stratford this year is presented in a style that is similar to how it would have been presented at the Globe Theatre in London, in the 1590s, in mid-afternoon in winter. The lights are left on and ever so slightly dimmed, no spotlights are used to follow the actors and no sound system is used to amplify the actors’ voices. Music is used only as background music or as part of a scene since the Globe Theatre did not have an orchestra pit, and the musicians play old-fashioned instruments from Shakespeare’s time.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye is torn between following the standard marriage tradition and letting his daughters marry men they choose and love. Personally, I believe that the daughters are right in the sense that if they let their parents and the matchmaker choose, then the community is almost a dictatorship since no one has a free choice in marriage. I think the best way would be for Tevye to recommend his daughters to avoid certain husbands instead of making the marriage mandatory.

In Romeo and Juliet, there is a very obvious tradition that both the Montague and the Capulet families follow: you MUST hate the other family. If you don’t follow this tradition, you are shunned by your family for the rest of your life. In Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is changed because the outside world is moving on with time. However, in Romeo and Juliet, tradition is changed because of tradition itself. Romeo and Juliet are fed up with tradition (think Motel and Tzeitel from Fiddler on the Roof) but this tradition results in their deaths. It is not until after their deaths that the two families end the mini-war that they have been waging and call a truce.

In most plays, the props and sets are a vital part of the story, since they help tell where the scene takes place and what the characters are doing. Fiddler on the Roof uses lots of props like the milk cart, suitcases, dishes, cleaning supplies, to show what the characters are doing and where they are. Fiddler on the Roof also uses sets that are made up of objects that are only found in certain obvious places, like a bed in the bedroom or a stove and table in the kitchen.

Romeo and Juliet uses lots of props but is very different to Fiddler on the Roof since the play doesn’t use any major set changes (which is the way plays in the Elizabethan time were presented). Instead, the audience has to watch attentively so that they can see the subtle changes in props and character movement, such as when Paris is searching with the lantern or when Juliet is on the balcony and Romeo is right under her nose.

In Romeo and Juliet, one of the most confusing characters is Friar Laurence, since you don’t learn much about him except that he is a monk who knows everything there is to know about plants and their properties, both poisonous and helpful. I believe that Friar Laurence is a “good guy” since he helps Romeo and Juliet by marrying them in hopes of ceasing the quarrel that has been going on between their families. Plus, he never tells anybody about their marriage since if he was to mention it, it would cause disaster and make the fight between the Capulet and the Montague families even worse.

Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet are about two completely different stories which take place in very different times, but they both have similar themes: love, change, tradition and tragedy. If I had to choose a favourite play, I would say neither, since they’re both amazing plays. I hope you get to see them as well!

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Like what you read? 12-year-old guest blogger and theatre enthusiast, Adam Leung, is a regular contributor to the Stratford Festival’s blog. Read his other entries here and here!

Meet Tommy – Interview with Robert Markus

Meet your 2013 Tommy, Robert Markus! Robert sat down and chatted with us about becoming Tommy and about his role as Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof as he embarks on his debut season at the Festival! Enjoy learning a bit about our resident pinball wizard!

Robert Markus

Robert Markus

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Stratford Festival (SF): We’re so excited to welcome you to the Festival this season! You’ll be playing the title role in Tommy as well as appearing as Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof.  Has musical theatre always been a passion for you?

Robert Markus (RM): Actually, my introduction to theatre was by being involved in straight (non-musical) plays. I went to the University of Alberta for drama. We didn’t do much musical theatre. I think my love for theatre started with non-musical and then as my love of singing grew, I started to gravitate toward musical theatre.

SF: Tommy is undoubtedly a troubled character. How have you been preparing for the role?

RM: Research. I tried to do as much research as I could on The Who and Pete Townshend, trying to understand where they were coming from and what was surrounding them at the time they were writing it.

SF: There are so many iconic songs in both Tommy and Fiddler on the Roof – what’s your favourite song from each show?

RM: I love “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler and “Pinball Wizard” and “Listening to You” from Tommy.

SF: What excites you most about our upcoming production of Tommy and what do you think will distinguish it from past iterations of the show?

RM: Hearing this fantastic cast sing this amazing music is incredibly exciting. This production is suped up – brand new theatre technology for a bright and shiny new production of Tommy.

SF:  Have you been practicing your hand at pinball lately?

RM: I’ve been trying to! I went to an amazing Pinball museum last December.

SF: Both Tommy and Fiddler boast amazing casts and artistic leadership – is there anyone in particular that you’re excited to be working with? 

RM: Two actually. Donna Feore and Des McAnuff.

The first production I saw at Stratford was Oklahoma!, which Donna directed in 2007. I was awestruck. It is probably one of my favourite productions that I have seen. It was magic. The storytelling in that production was crystal clear. It ignited a passion of wanting to pursue classic musical theatre.

Working with Des is a huge dream for me. I’m still kind of awestruck by him. I mean the man envisioned the stage show of Tommy. He knows the show better than anyone, besides Pete Townshend himself. It’s pretty cool.

Just for fun…

SF: One thing we’d always find in your refrigerator is…

RM: Ketchup.

SF: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

RM: Trying to pursue some kind of singing career.

SF: The most-played song on your iPod is…

“Down” by Summer Camp

Follow Robert on Twitter -> @robert_markus

Read Robert’s full stage bio here!

Don’t forget that you can see Robert and cast members from Tommy perform live at our Pinballapalooza in Toronto this week on May, 16 at First Canadian Place at 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. at the Waterfall Stage! The fun doesn’t end at the performances; we’ll be around all day with 100 pinball machines set up for free play, amazing prizes, an exclusive ticket deal along with a Guinness World Record attempt at 12:40 – best of all, the whole event is free! So come out to enjoy some great music and fun at our first ever Pinballapalooza!

For more information about Pinballapalooza, visit our website at www.stratfordfestival.ca/pinball!

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

Community is the reason for the season

by Lisa Middleton

Our Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino, has focused his inaugural season around themes of community and belonging. As our lives become increasingly individualistic, the theatre is one of the few spaces left where we gather as a community. As you plan your visit to the Festival this year, we hope that you’ll take a few moments to contemplate the value of community. Mr. Cimolino has said that from “collective experience comes empathetic understanding,” and we sincerely hope that this is true for you as you enter our theatres this season.

Watch here as Antoni discusses our 2013 season:

Many productions in our 2013 playbill explore the position of people on the fringes of society — the “other.” Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Othello are certainly deemed as cultural and ethnic outsiders in their communities; this idea of outsiders also extends to characters like Tommy and like Elora in The Thrill, who are physically set apart. The playbill also considers how communities and individuals relate to governing bodies – family, church, state – all of which play a fundamental role in shaping the cultural landscape. Certainly in Romeo and Juliet, Mary Stuart, Measure for MeasureThe Merchant of Venice, Fiddler on the Roof and even The Three Musketeers, we see the dynamics of communities at play. There are elements of community in all twelve productions being offered this season, from the comedic to the tragic. We hope that our productions will give you opportunities to connect to, understand and contemplate the communities in your life.

An important feature of our 2013 season is The Forum. The Forum will provide Festival fans and community members with a platform to further explore the themes that are prevalent in our productions and in the world around us. We have an exciting line-up of speakers, concerts, discussions, classes, film screenings, exhibitions, panels, debates and even meals planned for you! To top things off, we have an amazing roster of special guests joining us including John de Chastelain, Canada’s former Chief of the Defence Staff; comedian Colin Mochrie; former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson; your favourite Festival actors and many more! We hope that these events will be fun, but also thought-provoking, and will challenge our assumptions about the stories we watch unfold on our stages, in the news and in our own communities. For a full list of Forum events, please visit our website!

Remember, booking your tickets before January 31 ensures that you’ll enjoy the lowest regular prices of the season (up to 25% less than our in-season rates), and also gives you the benefit of being able to exchange your tickets at a later date without paying any fees! In addition, if you book your tickets online, you’ll be saving 50% on handling fees!