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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Press Release | Mary Stuart extended for a fourth time

August 23, 2013… The Stratford Festival is extending Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino’s production of Mary Stuart for an unprecedented fourth time.

The production, described as “electrifyingly entertaining and intellectually exciting” by the Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian and “edge-of-your-seat suspenseful” by The Globe and Mail’s J. Kelly Nestruck, features Seana McKenna as Elizabeth I and Lucy Peacock as Mary Stuart, with Ben Carlson as Lord Burleigh, Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury and Geraint Wyn Davies as the Earl of Leicester.

Mary Stuart is striking for the clarity of its storytelling, the constant intensity of its dramatic stakes and, especially, for the evenhanded excellence of Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna in the leading roles,” says Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune. “This is one for the memory books, with two remarkable actresses at the peak of their powers,” says Postmedia’s Jamie Portman.

With the run entirely sold out despite three previous extensions, the Festival is delighted to offer eager theatre-goers four more opportunities to see the smash hit of the season.

Tickets for the following performances will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on Tuesday, August 27, and to the general public on Wednesday, August, 28:

  • Wednesday, October 16, at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 17, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, October 18, at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, at 8 p.m.

The play, by Friedrich Schiller, newly adapted by Peter Oswald, follows a period in the life of Mary Stuart, when the former Queen of Scots has been imprisoned in England because her very existence poses a political and personal risk to her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth I. As Elizabeth hesitates over decreeing her rival’s fate, Mary pleads for a face-to-face meeting, and we see how religion can become a tool in the hands of cynical politicians who are willing to sacrifice lives in the supposed interests of the state.

The final performance of The Forum event Dear Mary, Dear Elizabeth will be held on August 31 at 11 a.m. in the Studio Theatre. It features Ms McKenna and Ms Peacock reading the letters of Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I, introduced and contextualized by Dr. Ted McGee.

Mary Stuart is co-sponsored by PwC. Production support for Mary Stuart is generously provided by Dr. Dennis & Dorothea Hacker, Dr. M.L. Myers and the late Dr. W.P. Hayman, Alice & Tim Thornton and Diana Tremain. Support for the 2013 season of the Tom Patterson Theatre is generously provided by Richard Rooney and Laura Dinner.

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.

To purchase tickets for Mary Stuart and all of the 2013 season productions, call the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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World Première: Judith Thompson’s The Thrill begins previews

July 25, 2013… Judith Thompson’s spirited new play The Thrill receives its world première in a production commissioned by the Festival. Confronting the weighty issues surrounding the right to die, this inspiring love story begins previews at the Studio Theatre on July 28, 2013, before opening on August 13.

The play centres on Elora, a successful lawyer, fiery activist and self-described “bedpan crip,” who finds her life profoundly changed when she encounters Julian, a popular spokesperson for the right-to-die movement. This first meeting of two passionate souls on opposite sides of a painfully divisive issue has consequences that neither had anticipated, evolving into a love affair that weighs the frailty of the human body against the glory of the human spirit.

“It has been my honour to have full access to this theatre,” says Ms Thompson, “and to be assisted every step of the way, so that the voices inside me can be heard, and the characters can be seen, and the ideas can be debated by the audience, the most sacred character in the live and unique event that is the theatre.

After great success at the helm of Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers in 2012, former associate artistic director Dean Gabourie returns for his 10th season at the Festival to bring another world première to the stage.

“Judith Thompson’s plays, to quote the dramatist Howard Barker, are like ‘the grain of sand in the oyster’s gut’: the questions posed and the truths told ask both the actors on stage and the audience to define their own beliefs concerning some of our society’s darkest issues,” says Mr. Gabourie. “The stakes in Thompson’s writing are always high – matters of life and death, if you will – but this play happens to be about life and death and the quality of both.”

These themes fall in line with Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino’s vision for this season’s playbill, which is built around the idea of community and how we as individuals relate to our fellow human beings, to society and its institutions.

“This season, we’re examining the idea of communities: the bonds that hold them together and the differences that divide them,” says Mr. Cimolino. “In this case, the division is based on physical disability. Judith Thompson is an extraordinary playwright with an uncanny ability to give a voice to the voiceless. The Thrill is a powerful, socially active drama that is both funny and deeply moving. It is an honour to hold its world première on our Stratford stage.”

The cast features Lucy Peacock as Elora, Nigel Bennett as Julian, Patricia Collins as Hanna and Robert Persichini as Francis.

The artistic team includes Designer Eo Sharp, Lighting Designer Itai Erdal, Sound Designer Jesse Ash, Dramaturge Iris Turcott and Stunt Coordinator John Stead.

The Thrill 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 offers theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

The Thrill will be explored through several Forum events, including: Writing About the Right to Die, in which Judith Thompson joins journalist, broadcaster and author Ian Brown, playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal and author Zoe Fitzgerald Carter in a provocative panel discussion moderated by Alex BulmerHow to Disappear Completely, in which Itai Erdal presents his award-winning solo work which demonstrates his theatrical lighting while also reflecting on the events that followed his mother asking him to take her life; and The Insight of Blindness, in which Alex Bulmer, a Canadian-born writer and theatre artist, shares her experience creating disabled-led art after losing her sight.

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 byThe Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Philip Hayman. 

The Thrill officially opens on August 13 and runs until September 22. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Support for the 2013 season of the Studio Theatre is generously provided by the Parnassus Foundation, courtesy of Jane & Raphael Bernstein and Sandra & Jim Pitblado.

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.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Julian………………………………………….          Nigel Bennett
Hanna…………………………………………          Patricia Collins
Elora…………………………………………..          Lucy Peacock
Francis…………………………………………          Robert Persichini

Artistic Credits

Playwright…………………………………….          Judith Thompson
Director……………………………………….          Dean Gabourie
Designer………………………………………          Eo Sharp
Lighting Designer…………………………….          Itai Erdal
Sound Designer……………………………….         Jesse Ash
Dramaturge……………………………………         Iris Turcott
Stunt Coordinator……………………………..         John Stead
Producer………………………………………          David Auster
Casting Director………………………………          Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director……………………         Jason Miller
Assistant Lighting Designer…………………..         Tristan Tidswell
Stage Manager…………………………………         Julie Miles
Assistant Stage Manager………………………        Corinne Richards
Production Stage Manager…………………….        Marylu Moyer
Technical Directors……………………………         Robbin Cheesman, Kaileigh Krysztofiak

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for The Thrill:
http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=20309

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

Itai Erdal: How to Disappear Completely

Award-winning lighting designer Itai Erdal is bringing his acclaimed solo work How To Disappear Completely to The Forum. Join us at the Studio Theatre on August 11, 15 and 17 at 2 p.m. for a brave, humorous and deeply moving piece that will stay with you long after the show ends.

Itai001

Produced by The Chop Theatre, How To Disappear Completely reflects on the events following Itai’s mother asking him to take her life. In the year 2000, Itai, a recent film school graduate, received a call telling him that his mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Right away he flew back to Israel to be with her, where he captured hours of film and hundreds of pictures documenting her last days and their time together.

From these images he created a poignant and vital production that follows the very personal journey he took with his mother, Mery, and also reflects on the broader experience of how we respond when we’re faced with our own mortality.

Itai002

Here’s what reviewers had to say about the show:

“It may sound like a grim, three-hankie experience, but along with the tears (and they do come, eventually), there is humour, and life . . . What could have been a dark show is driven in fact by light. The professional insights of Erdal, who at times operates the lighting from the stage, are used to great effect to illuminate his story, becoming a metaphor for his experiences and for life’s big questions.” – Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail

“For years Vancouver theatregoers have sung the praises of local lighting designer Itai Erdal, who always brings something especially, well, illuminating to the stages he works on. Now it’s time to change our tune and marvel instead at this man’s bravery . . . [How to Disappear] is warm, witty and, naturally, beautifully lit.” – Peter Bernie, Vancouver Sun

How to Disappear Completely runs for only three performances, so don’t wait! Book your tickets here. Admission is $25.

Check out more of our August Forum events, including:

Writing About the Right to Die
Studio Theatre, Thursday, August 15, at 10:30 a.m.
With journalist, broadcaster and author Ian Brown (The Boy in the Moon), playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal (How to Disappear Completely), author Zoe FitzGerald Carter (Imperfect Endings) and playwright Judith Thompson (The Thrill). Moderator: Alex Bulmer. Admission is $10.

Barbara Budd with Stories of Significant Strangers… and Others
Festival Theatre lobby, Wednesday, August 14, at 5:15 p.m.
Award-winning actor/broadcaster Barbara Budd spent two decades as co-host of As It Happens sharing stories with a worldwide audience on CBC radio and American public radio. Presenting two Canadian short stories that wittily capture this year’s theme of the Outsider and Community, she is joined by our fiddler, Anna Atkinson. Admission is $10.

Othello vs Otello
Festival Theatre lobby, Friday, August 16, at 10:30 a.m.
Verdi aficionado John Zaretti of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan and Othello director Chris Abraham discuss the play and the operatic adaptation and their respective strengths and genius, pitting aria against soliloquy in this face-off of masterpieces. Admission is $20.

Join the conversation using the hashtag #sfForum.

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!

Enjoy a good laugh at Blithe Spirit – for only $39!

by Valerie Morelli 

Theatre advocate and newly selected marketing intern Valerie Morelli recounts her experience of seeing Blithe Spirit at the Festival. Enjoy her guest blog, PLUS a special offer!
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Earlier last week I had the pleasure of seeing Blithe Spirit at the Avon Theatre. It had been some time since I last sat down in those velvety red seats, but as I entered my row I was reminded of the charm of this one-time vaudeville house.

The theatre is beautiful, but even it couldn’t prepare me for the set that was hidden behind the curtain. As the lights dimmed and the crowd’s murmurs began to subside, the curtain rose to reveal an intricately designed English-style house in the Kent countryside. The crowd immediately “oohed” and “aahed,” and a few people even clapped! I’d never seen such detailed scenic work – it had clearly taken hours upon hours to complete.

I had never seen Blithe Spirit before, so at first I didn’t know what to expect – but Noël Coward’s brilliant, fast-paced script immediately assured me that I was in for a wonderful comedy. The ensemble is so strong and has great chemistry on stage, delivering laugh after laugh.

The play centres on an otherworldly dilemma: Charles Condomine (Ben Carlson), the husband of a seemingly perfect couple, accidentally summons the ghost of his late wife, Elvira (Michelle Giroux), when he hosts a séance with the help of a quirky medium, named Madame Arcati (Seana McKenna). Unfortunately, Elvira’s reappearance is no laughing matter for Charles’ current wife, Ruth (Sara Topham), who can tell that her ectoplasmic counterpart has devious intentions.

This show about a marriage thrown into comic confusion is definitely a must-see – and its ending is really exciting!

Michelle Giroux, Ben Carlson, Seana McKenna, Sara Topham. Photography by Don Dixon.

Michelle Giroux, Ben Carlson, Seana McKenna, Sara Topham. Photography by Don Dixon.

Join us for a laugh on May 25, 2013, and get tickets to Blithe Spirit for just $30 – including A+ seats!*

On Facebook? Try booking with Stratford Social Ticketing and creating an event page!

  • Visit our Facebook page and click on the Stratford Social Ticketing Tab
  • Select the May 25 performance of Blithe Spirit
  • Enter promo code 49201 in the “Have a Promo Code” box at the top of the “Select Your Seat” page
  •  Select your seats and check out!

OR

  • Log into our website with promotion code 49201
  • Select the May 25 performance of Blithe Spirit
  • Select your seats and check out!

Not available on May 25? No worries! We’re offering $39 tickets to see Blithe Spirit on May 29 and June 8, 13 and 16!**

  • Visit our Facebook page and click on the Stratford Social Ticketing Tab
  • Select Blithe Spirit on May 29 or June 8, 13 or 16
  • Enter promo code 49202 in the “Have a Promo Code” box at the top of the “Select Your Seat” page
  •  Select your seats (excluding A+) and check out!

OR

  • Log into our website with promotion code 49202
  • Select Blithe Spirit on May 29 or June 8, 13 or 16
  • Select your seats (excluding A+) and check out!

See you at the theatre!

*Offer may expire without notice. Only available for the May 25, 2013, performance of Blithe Spirit. May not be combined with any other offers or on previously purchased tickets. Price excludes applicable taxes and handling fee. Valid on selected dates only, while quantities last. Performances, casting and dates subject to change without notice. Excludes group orders of 15 tickets or more to one performance date. Not available by phone or in person.

**Offer may expire without notice. Not available on A+ seating. May not be combined with any other offers or applied to previously purchased tickets. Price excludes applicable taxes and handling fee. Valid on selected dates only, while quantities last. Performances, casting and dates subject to change without notice. Excludes group orders of 15 tickets or more for one performance date. Not available by phone or in person.

AUDITIONS FOR CHILDREN TO PERFORM AS ‘LOCAL JOBBERS’ IN THE WHO’S TOMMY

MONDAY AUGUST 27th, 2012 

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is seeking two boys or girls to perform in THE WHO’S TOMMY.

We are seeking a boy or girl to play 4 year old Tommy, and a boy or girl to play 10 year old Tommy.

Rehearsals begin approximately February 25, 2013,  previews begin May 6, and the production runs until October 27, 2013.

Jobbers are paid an hourly wage and an honourarium for every show.

If you are interested in being a Local Jobber, AND…

  • you live within a 50 km radius of the Festival Theatre
  • are not a member of any performers union or association
  • are available for the entire run of the show (no holidays or leaves)

…please CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY

Jen Emery
casting@stratfordshakespearefestival.com
(519) 271-4040 ext. 2361