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.

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Shakespeare as Shakespeare would have done it | Romeo and Juliet starts previews

May 1, 2013… One of Britain’s leading directors, Tim Carroll, returns to the Stratford Festival to present the most famous love story ever told. Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy of star-crossed lovers who risk everything to be together, begins previews on Wednesday, May 1, at the Festival Theatre.

A founding member of The Factory and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe in London from 1999 to 2005, Mr. Carroll has had a prolific career in theatre. He recently directed Mark Rylance – the Globe’s first Artistic Director – in Globe productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night, and in 2010, he made his Stratford debut as director of the wildly popular Peter Pan.

“It is an incredible honour to be asked to do Shakespeare on the amazingly beautiful stage of the Festival Theatre,” Mr. Carroll says. “I think of the truly great theatre artists who designed and built this theatre, and who have worked on it over the last 60 years, and now here I am doing one of the big ones on that stage. If that doesn’t excite you, it’s time to check you still have a pulse.”

In its tenth Stratford production, the classic story will be performed in Original Practices, a style of performance that evokes the manner in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally staged in the Elizabethan era.

“I have staged Romeo and Juliet as though it were indeed an afternoon performance in an Elizabethan playhouse,” says Mr. Carroll. “The light will not change to suit the scenes, any more than the scenery will move to reflect new settings. We will know where we are, what time of day it is, and everything else from the starting point of Shakespeare’s theatre: the actors and the words they speak.”

The title roles will be played by Stratford newcomer Daniel Briere and Festival favourite Sara Topham. The cast also features Nehassaiu deGannes as Lady Capulet, Jonathan Goad as Mercutio, Kate Hennig as the Nurse, Tom McCamus as Friar Laurence and Scott Wentworth as Capulet.

The production’s artistic team includes Set Designer Douglas Paraschuk, Costume Designer Carolyn M. Smith, Lighting Designer Kevin Fraser, Composer Claudio Vena, Sound Designer Jim Neil, Movement Coach Shona Morris and Fight Director John Stead.

In a playbill that explores communities in conflict, Romeo and Juliet is a particularly apt choice.

“I have assembled a season with a particular focus on examining how we reach across our differences to find our common humanity, and few plays do this better than Romeo and Juliet,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Although written over 400 years ago, it’s a story that remains incredibly pertinent today and one that, I think, matters so much to young people. It speaks to them; it speaks to their experience of the world. I’m thrilled to have Tim back to open our 2013 season with this beautifully imagined interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic play.”

Romeo and Juliet 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 Romeo and Juliet will be explored through several Forum events, including: Ancient Grudges and New Mutinies, in which John de Chastelain, the former Chief of the Defence Staff and former ambassador to the U.S, reflects on the Prince of Verona’s role as peacekeeper in Romeo and Juliet and relates it to his own experiences; Original Pronunciation, with Tim Carroll, in which the director explores the implications of how Shakespeare’s text was originally pronounced; and Sex and Love in Verona, Venice and Vienna, a talk by Stanley Wells, Honorary President, Life Trustee and former Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares.

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, including the appearance of John de Chastelain, is generously provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.

Romeo and Juliet is sponsored by Sun Life Financial. Production support is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein and M. Vaile Fainer.

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)

Montague…………………………………….           Wayne Best

Escalus……………………………………….           Michael Blake

Benvolio……………………………………..            Skye Brandon

Romeo……………………………………….            Daniel Briere

Musician – Percussion…………………….…            David Campion

Lady Capulet…………………………………           Nehassaiu deGannes

Gregory………………………………………            Victor Ertmanis

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Sara Farb

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Jacquelyn French

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Barbara Fulton

Mercutio……………………………………..            Jonathan Goad

Musician – Recorder/Flute…………….….…            Ian Harper

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Valerie Hawkins

Nurse…………………………………………            Kate Hennig

Lady Montague………………………………           Gabrielle Jones

Abraham/Apothecary………………………..            Robert King

Balthasar………………………………….….           Andrew Lawrie

Friar John……………………………………            Roy Lewis

Musician – Violin…………………………….            Mel Martin

Friar Laurence………………………….……            Tom McCamus

Musician – Lute……………………………….            Terry McKenna

Petruchio…………………………………….            André Morin

Old Capulet………………………………….           Sam Moses

Peter…………………………………………            Mike Nadajewski

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Andrew Robinson

Citizen of Verona……………………………           Sabryn Rock

Sampson……………………………………..            Brad Rudy

Tybalt………………………………………..            Tyrone Savage

Juliet………………………………………….            Sara Topham

Capulet………………………………………            Scott Wentworth

Paris……………………………………….…           Antoine Yared

 

Artistic Credits

Director……………………………….…..…            Tim Carroll

Set Designer………………………………….            Douglas Paraschuk

Costume Designer…………………….……..            Carolyn M. Smith

Lighting Designer……………………….…..            Kevin Fraser

Composer……………………………………            Claudio Vena

Sound Designer………………………………           Jim Neil

Movement……………………………………            Shona Morris

Fight Director……………………………….            John Stead

Producer………………………………….…             David Auster

Casting Director…………………………….             Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director……………….…            Jason Miller

Associate Fight Director…………………….            Geoff Scovell

Assistant Director……………………………            Ken Schwartz

Second Assistant Director…………………..            Graham Abbey

Assistant Set Designer………………………            Brandon Kleiman

Assistant Costume Designer…………………            Alyssa Prigioniero

Assistant Lighting Designer…………………           Tristan Tidswell

Assistant Fight Directors…………………….           Anita Nittoly, Kostas Tourlentes

Fight Captain…………………………………           Wayne Best

Movement/Vocal Captain……………………            Barbara Fulton

Stage Manager……………………………….           Bona Duncan

Assistant Stage Managers……………………           Bruno Gonsalves, Margaret Palmer,

Crystal Skinner

Production Assistant…………………………           Linsey Callaghan

Production Stage Manager…………………..           Margaret Palmer

Technical Director…………………………..             Jeff Scollon

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for Romeo and Juliet:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=20294

Headshots:

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

For more information, please contact:

Ann Swerdfager
Publicity Director
Stratford Festival
519.271.0055 x2297
aswerdfager@stratfordfestival.ca

Festival announces key casting for 2013

October 16, 2012… With the 2013 box office opening to Members in just a few weeks, the Stratford Festival is pleased to announce key casting for the 2013 season, featuring the return of many Festival favourites.

Jewelle Blackman, Michelle Giroux, Jonathan Goad, Kate Hennig, Dion Johnstone, Jeremy Kushnier, Mike Nadajewski, Paul Nolan, Stephen Ouimette, Steven Sutcliffe, Sara Topham and Scott Wentworth will be returning to the Festival in 2013, joining current company members Graham Abbey, Nigel Bennett, Michael Blake, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Jacquelyn French, Carmen Grant, Deborah Hay, Randy Hughson, Luke Humphrey, Peter Hutt, Keely Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Gabrielle Jones, Ian Lake, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Chick Reid, Tom Rooney, Steve Ross, Stephen Russell, Mike Shara, Jennifer Stewart, Brian Tree and Geraint Wyn Davies.

Also joining the company are newcomers Daniel Briere, Nehassaiu deGannes, Kira Guloien, Hannah Miller, Andre Morin and Robert Markus. As previously announced, Brian Bedford, Brian Dennehy and Martha Henry will also return in leading roles.

“At the heart of the Festival stand extraordinary artists,” says Antoni Cimolino, who will take over as Artistic Director on November 1. “I am immensely proud of the company we have assembled for the 2013 season, bringing together some of our finest actors as well as some exceptionally promising newcomers. We look forward to working with them to present the most exciting stories ever told.”

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham to play Romeo and Juliet

ROMEO AND JULIET | DIRECTED BY TIM CARROLL | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 1 | OPENS MAY 27 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SUN LIFE FINANCIAL
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: M. VAILE FAINER

Daniel Briere and Sara Topham will play the title characters in Tim Carroll’s production of Romeo and Juliet. They will be joined by Nehassaiu deGannes as Lady Capulet, Jonathan Goad as Mercutio, Kate Hennig as the Nurse, Tom McCamus as Friar Laurence and Scott Wentworth as Capulet.

Daniel Briere will make his Stratford debut as Romeo. A graduate of the National Theatre School, Mr. Briere has played such roles as Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew and Paris in Romeo and Juliet at Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park, Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing at Driftwood Theatre, Number One in Lebenstraum at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Art in The Mail Order Bride at the Blyth Festival.

Sara Topham will return for her 13th season to play Juliet. After her Stratford and Broadway turn as Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Ms Topham returned to Stratford in 2010 to play Wendy in Peter Pan and La Présidente de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons, followed by Olivia in Twelfth Night and Célimène in The Misanthrope in 2011. This past year has seen her in leading roles at the Hartford Stage Company, McCarter Theater Center and Shakespeare Theater Company.  Other key Stratford credits include Miss Mabel Chiltern in An Ideal Husband, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Grace Harkaway in London Assurance, Cordelia in King Lear and Rosalind in As You Like It.

Fiddler on the Roof to feature Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF | DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY DONNA FEORE | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START APRIL 23 | OPENS MAY 28 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION CO-SPONSOR: UNION GAS LIMITED
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: THE HARKINS FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SUSAN HARKINS

Kate Hennig and Scott Wentworth will take the leading roles of Golde and Tevye in Donna Feore’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Jacquelyn French has been cast as Hodel, Keely Hutton as Chava, Gabrielle Jones as Yente, Andre Morin as Motel, Mike Nadajewski as Perchik, Paul Nolan as Fyedka and Jennifer Stewart as Tzeitel.

Kate Hennig, who is returning for her fourth season at Stratford, is well remembered for playing the dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, in Broadway’s Billy Elliot: The Musical, a role she also played in Toronto, winning a Dora Award for her performance. Most recently she was seen as Emma Goldman in this season’s Shaw Festival hit, Ragtime, as well as in A Man and Some Women. She was also in the wildly popular première of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Arts Centre. Ms Hennig was last in the Stratford company in 1991, playing Mrs. Mullin in Carousel, Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing and the Player Queen in Hamlet. She can currently be seen playing Adele Witham in Bomb Girls on Global Television.

Scott Wentworth, who marks his 18th season in 2013, was last seen at Stratford in 2008, playing Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán in Fuente Ovejuna and Claudius in Hamlet. His musical credits at Stratford include playing Clifford Bradshaw in the 1987 production of Cabaret and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in both 1990 and 2004 – a role he is currently reprising at the Segal Centre in Montreal. His other Stratford credits include the title roles in Macbeth, Richard III, Henry IV Part 1 and The Merchant of Venice, Iago in Othello, David Cutrere in Orpheus Descending and Theseus in Phèdre. Mr. Wentworth has also written a number of musicals in collaboration with his wife, Marion Adler, including Enter the Guardsman, which was nominated for an Olivier Award for best musical in 1997.

Musketeers Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad, Mike Shara joined by Luke Humphrey as D’Artagnan

THE THREE MUSKETEERS | DIRECTED BY MILES POTTER | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19

Graham Abbey, Jonathan Goad and Mike Shara headline Miles Potter’s production of The Three Musketeers, with Luke Humphrey playing D’Artagnan. They will be joined by Michael Blake as Count de Rochefort, Nehassaiu deGannes as the Queen of France, Deborah Hay as Milady de Winter, Bethany Jillard as Constance Bonacieux and Steven Sutcliffe as Cardinal Richelieu.

Graham Abbey, who will play Athos, returned to the Festival in 2012 for the first time since 2006 to play Posthumus in Cymbeline and Aigisthos in Elektra. His extensive television career includes the series lead, Gray Jackson, in The Border, Glen Martin in Degrassi and George Thomey in Republic of Doyle. His Stratford credits include Henry V, Macbeth, Romeo and Henry VIII, as well as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Happy in Death of a Salesman and D’Artagnan in the 2000 production of The Three Musketeers.

Jonathan Goad will play Porthos. Mr. Goad was last seen at Stratford in 2009, playing Quarlous in Bartholomew Fair, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and Hippolytus in Phèdre. In 11 Stratford seasons, his credits have included Harold Hill in The Music Man, Iago in Othello, Angelo in Measure for Measure, Theseus and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title role in Pericles. Mr. Goad can also be seen on CBC TV, where he plays Christian Doyle in Republic of Doyle.

Luke Humphrey made his Stratford debut in 2010, appearing in The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. This season he played Michael Williams in Henry V. He will also be remembered as the shirtless tango dancer in Much Ado About Nothing. His other credits include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Highland Hall Theatre, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at the Stella Adler Studio.

Mike Shara will return for his fifth season at Stratford to play Aramis. Mr. Shara is currently playing Cloten in Cymbeline and Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker. His Stratford highlights include Teddy in The Homecoming, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. Mr. Shara is a veteran of the Shaw Festival and has performed across the country. His television work includes Little Mosque on the Prairie, Queer as Folk and Due South.

Tom McCamus to play the Merchant

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | FESTIVAL THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 30 | OPENS AUGUST 15 | CLOSES OCTOBER 18
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: SCOTIABANK
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: CATHERINE & DAVID WILKES; JANE PETERSEN-BURFIELD & FAMILY; BARBARA & JOHN SCHUBERT

Tom McCamus will once again collaborate with Antoni Cimolino in next season’s The Merchant of Venice, in which he will play Antonio. Mr. McCamus gave a searing performance as Iachimo in Mr. Cimolino’s production of Cymbeline this year and beautifully portrayed Jim Casy in 2011’s The Grapes of Wrath and Justice Overdo in 2009’s Bartholomew Fair. His portrayal of Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker continues to delight audiences. In his 12 seasons at Stratford, Mr. McCamus has played a vast number of leading roles including Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, Master Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Arthur in Camelot, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

As previously announced, Brian Bedford will play Shylock. They will be joined by Michelle Giroux as Portia, Jonathan Goad as Gratiano and Hannah Miller as Jessica.

Stellar cast for Blithe Spirit features Ben Carlson, Michelle Giroux, Seana McKenna and Sara Topham

BLITHE SPIRIT | DIRECTED BY BRIAN BEDFORD | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 16 | OPENS JUNE 1 | CLOSES OCTOBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: JOHN H. WHITESIDE; NONA MACDONALD HEASLIP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT FOR THE AVON THEATRE 2013 SEASON: THE BIRMINGHAM FAMILY

Brian Bedford will direct a stellar ensemble in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, with Ben Carlson as Charles Condomine; Michelle Giroux as Elvira, the ghost of Charles’s deceased wife; Seana McKenna as the medium, Madame Arcati; and Sara Topham as Charles’s second wife, Ruth. They will be joined by James Blendick as Dr. Bradman and Chick Reid as Mrs. Bradman. Mr. Bedford worked with Mr. Carlson and Ms Topham most recently in the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest in 2009.

Ben Carlson, currently playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Captain Fluellen in Henry V, returns for his sixth season at Stratford. Highlights of his time here include Feste in Twelfth Night, Alceste in The Misanthrope, Touchstone in As You Like It, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title role in Hamlet. He has worked throughout Canada and the U.S., and spent 12 seasons at the Shaw Festival, where he is well remembered for his marathon Man and Superman, The Return of the Prodigal and All My Sons, among other performances.

Michelle Giroux will celebrate her 10th season at Stratford in 2013. She was last here in 2007, when she played Jean Louise in the celebrated production of To Kill a Mockingbird and Julia in A Delicate Balance. Her Stratford credits also include Queen Isabella in Edward II, Katerina in The Brothers Karamazov, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Daphne in Present Laughter, Olivia in Twelfth Night and Gwendolen in the 2000 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

After her hilarious turn as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker, Seana McKenna will return for her 22nd season to play Madame Arcati. Stratford audiences will also remember Ms McKenna’s lighter side from such performances as Amanda Prynne in Private Lives, Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Dotty Otley in Noises Off and Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance. Her other Stratford credits include her remarkable portrayals of Richard III in 2011 and Clytemestra in this season’s Elektra, as well as moving portrayals of Medea, Andromache and Phèdre. She has played every one of Shakespeare’s leading ladies, many of them here at Stratford, as well as his wife, Anne Hathaway, in the one-woman show Shakespeare’s Will, which was produced at Stratford in 2007 and 2011.

Newcomer Robert Markus to play Tommy

TOMMY | DIRECTED BY DES McANUFF | CHOREOGRAPHED BY WAYNE CILENTO | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 4 | OPENS MAY 30 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: RICHARD ROONEY & LAURA DINNER

Newcomer Robert Markus will play the title role in Des McAnuff’s production of Tommy. Mr. Markus graduated from the University of Alberta’s acting program in 2010. His credits include Gabe in Next to Normal at the Citadel Theatre and Theatre Calgary, Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show and Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, also at the Citadel, and Angelo in The Comedy of Errors at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival.

He will be joined by Jewelle Blackman as the Gypsy, Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker, Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker, Paul Nolan as Cousin Kevin and Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie.

Dion Johnstone takes title role in Othellowith Graham Abbey as Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona

OTHELLO | DIRECTED BY CHRIS ABRAHAM | AVON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START AUGUST 4 | OPENS AUGUST 14 | CLOSES OCTOBER 19
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: BMO FINANCIAL GROUP
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: LARRY ENKIN & FAMILY IN MEMORY OF SHARON ENKIN;
MARTIE & BOB SACHS

Dion Johnstone will return to Stratford to take on the title role in Chris Abraham’s production of Othello, with Graham Abbey playing Iago and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona. They will be joined by Deborah Hay as Emilia, Peter Hutt as Brabantio, Mike Shara as Roderigo and Brian Tree as Gratiano.

Dion Johnstone comes to the role of Othello at the Festival, having turned in a number of memorable classical performances here, including Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Caliban in The Tempest, opposite Christopher Plummer’s Prospero, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Des McAnuff’s production of Macbeth, Edmund in King Lear, Iachimo in the 2004 production of Cymbeline and Orestes in the 2003 productions of The Flies and Electra. He has a vast television career as well, most recently including Harold Kalb in The Listener, Tyrone Evans in King and Barnaby Howe in Flashpoint.

Bethany Jillard made her Stratford debut in 2010 as Cécile Volante in Dangerous Liaisons and has since shone in both classical and contemporary roles as Lady Anne in Richard III, Young Kate and Tanya in The Little Years, Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Catherine in Henry V. Her other credits include Miss Julie in the MTC Warehouse production of After Miss Julie, the title role in My Name is Rachel Corrie at Theatre Panik and Brooke in How It Works at Tarragon. She won the Equity Emerging Theatre Artist Award in 2010.

Seana McKenna plays Elizabeth to Lucy Peacock’s Mary Stuart

MARY STUART | DIRECTED BY ANTONI CIMOLINO | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 3 | OPENS MAY 31 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. M.L. MYERS & DR. W.P. HAYMAN; ALICE & TIM THORNTON; DIANA TREMAIN; DR. DENNIS & DOROTHEA HACKER

Lucy Peacock will take on the title role in Antoni Cimolino’s production of Mary Stuart opposite Seana McKenna as Elizabeth.

It will feature Ben Carlson as Lord Burleigh, Geraint Wyn Davies as the Earl of Leicester and, as previously announced, Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury. James Blendick will play Amias Paulet, Peter Hutt will play Count Aubespine, Ian Lake will play Mortimer and Brian Tree will play Melvil.

Lucy Peacock celebrated her 25th season and 60th production with the Festival this season, playing the Hostess in Henry V and Mrs. Munsch in the new musical Wanderlust – as well as producing and starring in the cabaret series Late Night with Lucy. Last season she also combined musical theatre and Shakespeare, playing Morgan le Fey in Camelot and the delightfully scheming Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Her career at Stratford has been studded with brilliant performances, including Nana in For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Audrey in As You Like It, Masha in Three Sisters, Emilia in Othello, the title roles in The Duchess of Malfi and Hello, Dolly!, and a tour-de-force performance of all of the characters in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.

After his stirring portrayal of King Cymbeline, Geraint Wyn Davies will again collaborate with Mr. Cimolino, playing the key role of the Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart. Mr. Wyn Davies will celebrate his 10th season at Stratford in 2013. He began his Stratford adventure in 1986, playing Pericles and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys from Syracuse. Since then he 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 and Henry V, 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.

Measure for Measure to feature Carmen Grant, Stephen Ouimette,

Tom Rooney, Geraint Wyn Davies

MEASURE FOR MEASURE | DIRECTED BY MARTHA HENRY | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START MAY 18 | OPENS MAY 29 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 21
PRODUCTION SPONSOR: RBC
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: KARON BALES & CHARLES BEALL

Martha Henry’s production of Measure for Measure will feature Carmen Grant as Isabella, Stephen Ouimette as Lucio, Tom Rooney as Angelo, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Duke Vincentio, with Randy Hughson as Pompey, Peter Hutt as Escalus and Stephen Russell as Provost.

Carmen Grant made her Stratford debut in 2010, after completing her first year at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, where she played such roles as Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Goneril in King Lear. At the Festival she has appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, The Matchmaker, Titus Andronicus and Richard III. She received a Dora nomination for her portrayal of the title role in The Miracle Worker at YPT and won the Rising Star Award for playing Ruth in the ATP production of Zadie’s Shoes.

Stephen Ouimette recently gave an acclaimed performance as Harry Hope in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. Mr. Ouimette and Mr. Dennehy had performed together at Stratford in 2011’s outstanding productions of The Homecoming and Twelfth Night. Mr. Ouimette was also featured in the West End and Broadway productions of La Bete and is well-known for his portrayal of Oliver Welles in the television series Slings and Arrows. He has spent 18 seasons entertaining Stratford audiences with such performances as Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest and Touchstone in As You Like It. He has directed a number of productions, including Timon of Athens in 2004, and has played the title roles in Hamlet, King John, Amadeus and Richard III, as well as many other leading roles.

Tom Rooney will return for his sixth Stratford season, after delighting audiences as Robert Service in the 2012 première of Wanderlust and as Ensign Pistol in Henry V. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Rooney has fast become a favourite on the Festival stage, with his richly drawn portrayals of Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Master Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. He gave standout performances in 2009 as the Porter in Macbeth, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cassius in Julius Caesar.  In addition to playing the Narrator in 2010’s For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Mr. Rooney played Duke Frederick and Duke Senior in As You Like It and Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale.

Stephen Ouimette and Tom Rooney lead cast of Waiting for Godot

WAITING FOR GODOT | DIRECTED BY JENNIFER TARVER | TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JUNE 13 | OPENS JUNE 27 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 20
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: SYLVIA D. CHROMINSKA

Jennifer Tarver’s production of Waiting for Godot will feature Stephen Ouimette as Estragon and Tom Rooney as Vladimir. As previously announced, Brian Dennehy will play Pozzo. Randy Hughson will play Lucky.

Lucy Peacock stars in Judith Thompson’s The Thrill

THE THRILL | DIRECTED BY DEAN GABOURIE | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 28 | OPENS AUGUST 13 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22

Lucy Peacock will play the leading role of Elora in the world première of Judith Thompson’s The Thrill, which was commissioned by the Festival and will be directed by Dean Gabourie. She will be joined by Nigel Bennett as Julian.

Luke Humphrey to take Shakespeare from Martha Henry

TAKING SHAKESPEARE | DIRECTED BY DIANA LEBLANC | STUDIO THEATRE
PREVIEWS START JULY 13 | OPENS JULY 30 | CLOSES SEPTEMBER 22
PRODUCTION SUPPORT: DR. NANCY EPSTEIN & DR. DAVID GOLDBLOOM

As previously announced, Martha Henry will play the Prof in John Murrell’s new play Taking Shakespeare, directed by Diana Leblanc. Luke Humphrey has been cast as the student, Murph.

Tickets for the 2013 season will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11 and to the public on January 5. The 2012 season concludes on October 28, with tickets still available for Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street, The Matchmaker, The Pirates of Penzance and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Come fall in love with Cymbeline | 3 performances added

by Christi Rutledge

One of the last plays Shakespeare penned before his passing was Cymbeline, a stunning romance filled with dense, rich language and seemingly impossible twists of fate. It has a little bit of everything in it— love, war, dreams, betrayal and, most enchantingly, resolution and forgiveness. There is something magical about the final works of a playwright, and Shakespeare certainly gave us magic in Cymbeline, which feels beautifully personal.

In case you haven’t had a chance to see Cymbeline yet, here’s a sneak peek:

This production, helmed by our General Director and Artistic Director designate, Antoni Cimolino, has captivated audiences since it began previews. Critics, Shakespeare lovers and newbies have all raved about it. Most recently, New York Times theatre critic Charles Isherwood wrote this glowing review of our Shakespeare productions, including Cymbeline.

Come and escape into a Shakespearean dream with us! Cymbeline is a gorgeous play that should not be missed – especially when the cast features Cara Ricketts, Graham Abbey, Tom McCamus, Geraint Wyn Davies, Nigel Bennett, IanLake, Yanna McIntosh, Mike Shara, E.B. Smith, Brian Tree and John Vickery.

Because most performances are sold out or nearly sold out, we’ve added three more shows to Cymbeline’s run: October 3 at 2:00 p.m., October 5 at 2:00 p.m. and October 6 at 8:00 p.m. These seats won’t last, so book yours now to experience this spectacular production!

Photo credits: Foreground: Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Geraint Wyn Davies (centre) as Cymbeline and Mike Shara as Cloten with Brad Hodder and Naomi Wright (background) in Cymbeline. Photo by David Hou.

ADVISORY | Festival adds two new Cymbeline performances

June 13, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is adding two new performances of Shakespeare’s romance Cymbeline, to meet demand for this production, which has received overwhelmingly positive response from critics and audiences since it began previews on May 10.

The two additional shows will be held on the following days:

  • Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 29 at 8 p.m.

Directed by General Director Antoni Cimolino Cymbeline tells the story of Innogen, the remarkable daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, who has married against her father’s wishes. Banished by Cymbeline, Innogen’s “poor but worthy” husband, Posthumus, finds refuge in Italy, where the villainous Iachimo tricks him into believing that his new wife has been unfaithful. Flying into a jealous rage, Posthumus orders his servant, Pisanio, to kill Innogen; instead, however, Pisanio helps Innogen undertake a harrowing journey to reunite with her husband and win back his love.

The play features Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen and Geraint Wyn Davies as King Cymbeline, with Nigel Bennett as Caius Lucius, Ian Lake as Arviragus, Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Mike Shara as Cloten, E.B Smith as Guiderius, Brian Tree as Pisanio and John Vickery as Belarius.

Tickets are on sale now.  To order contact the Box Office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

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Festival officially launches 60th season on Monday

May 25, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival launches its 60th season on Monday, May 28, with a gala performance of Much Ado About Nothing. This is the final season under the artistic directorship of Des McAnuff, and one that promises an array of wonderful theatre for every taste and age group.

“The 60th season is representative of Stratford in all its glory,” says Mr. McAnuff, who is directing Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two, both of which open later in the season. “Embodying Stratford’s hallmark marriage of tradition and innovation, the Cplaybill ranges from the very roots of drama to some of the finest playwrights working in Canada today. Shakespearean comedy, history and romance are complemented by a hilarious contemporary pastiche of Shakespearean tragedy, while the season’s varied musical theatre repertoire acknowledges our own era’s great contribution to the western dramatic tradition. Meanwhile, the strength of our acting company is being showcased not only in Stratford but also on Broadway, with the Tony-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar.”

“As we celebrate our Festival’s 60th season, the glorious heritage of our past provides us with a clear signpost to the way ahead,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our pioneering artists and those who supported them sought to create in Stratford nothing less than the finest classical theatre in the world. Thanks to their vision and determination, the adventure that began in 1953 with two productions in a tent is now North America’s premier repertory theatre, featuring 14 productions in five venues. That same spirit drives us today as we explore the classics of the past and give birth to the classics of the future.”

Much Ado About Nothing is directed by Christopher Newton, who was a member of the Festival’s acting company from 1966 to 1968. It features Ben Carlson as Benedick and Deborah Hay as Beatrice.

Five other productions will open during the week: 42nd Street, directed by Gary Griffin and featuring Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor, Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, and Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Peggy Sawyer; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore, featuring Stephen Patterson as Snoopy, Erica Peck as Lucy and Ken James Stewart as Charlie Brown; Cymbeline, directed by Antoni Cimolino, featuring Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Cymbeline; The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny, featuring Sean Arbuckle as the Pirate King, Kyle Blair as Frederic, C. David Johnson as the Major General, and Amy Wallis as Mabel Stanley; and The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham, featuring Tom McCamus as Horace Vandergelder and Seana McKenna as Dolly Levi.

The 60th season will feature a number of special events, including Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two, which will run from July 25 to August 26. Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an exhibition of Festival artifacts, including rare footage of our pioneers, at a new space kitty-corner to the Avon Theatre, at 104 Downie Street. A symposium, Interpreting Shakespeare Across Settings and Media, featuring Colm Feore, Norman Lloyd, Dr. Katherine Lowe and the Festival’s Director of Archives, Dr. Francesca Marini, will be held on June 2. A dramatic reading of Edward Bond’s Bingo, about an aging William Shakespeare, will be held on June 15, with the playwright on hand for a Q&A with the audience. Lucy Peacock will hold a number of cabarets – Late Night with Lucy – in the new Studio Annex, in July and August, featuring music and conversation. The Celebrated Writers Series returns with Stephen Marche, author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything; Richard McCoy, author of Faith in Shakespeare; Michael Ondaatje, author of The Cat’s Table; and Margaret Atwood, author of In Other Worlds. Master voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenberg will present three special events from July 18 to 22, to mark 60 years of the Festival’s extensive actor training activities. The Festival will launch a special 60th season book on June 2, Stratford: Behind the Scenes, which will available through the Theatre Store. These special events are all in addition to the Festival’s usual enrichment activities.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.

Opening Week Itinerary

Sunday, May 27
Garden Party
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Festival Theatre lobby and gardens

Monday, May 28
Gala Opening of Much Ado About Nothing
Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford
6:30 p.m. Pipe Band parades to front of theatre and performs
7:00 p.m. Red Carpet arrivals
7:30 p.m. Performance of Much Ado About Nothing begins
10:10 p.m. Performance concludes

Tuesday, May 29
11:30 a.m. Book Launch – Festival Lobby
The Adventures of Adrian and Tiddlywinks by the late John Sullivan Hayes, former Producer of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Opening of 42nd Street
Festival Theatre
8:00 p.m. Performance begins
10:20 p.m. Performance concludes

Wednesday, May 30
Opening of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
9:55 p.m. Performance concludes

Thursday, May 31
Opening of Cymbeline
8 p.m. Tom Patterson Theatre
11 p.m. Performance concludes

Friday, June 1
Opening of The Pirates of Penzance
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
10:35 p.m. Performance concludes

Saturday, June 2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Symposium, Studio Theatre (please contact Andrea Smitko to reserve tickets)
1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Book Launch – Stratford: Behind the Scenes. Rehearsal Hall 3, Studio Theatre.
Opening of The Matchmaker
8 p.m. Festival Theatre
10:40 p.m. Performance concludes

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Celebrate May 2-4 all month long with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival!

by Lisa Middleton

The warm weather is here and so is our 60th season! The long weekend is never quite long enough, so we want to help you get a head start on celebrating Victoria Day (and even extend it a little bit). We’re offering you $24 tickets to all May performances of The Matchmaker – and because we like you, we’re throwing in the June 1 performance as well!

What makes this offer extra special? You can book any seat in the house, from the front of the orchestra to the back of the balcony!  But don’t wait— this great offer is only available from 2 p.m. today until 4 p.m. tomorrow!

Here’s a bit more about The Matchmaker:
With his eye ever fixed on the bottom line, wealthy merchant Horace Vandergelder can’t see the value of love – even as he searches for a wife. His matchmaker, Dolly Levi, however, is making her own plans for him, while his clerks pursue their hearts’ desires in the big city.

Some things you might not know about this show:

  • If the plot of The Matchmaker sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen the musical inspired by this loveable comedy – Hello, Dolly! (maybe when it played at the Festival in 2005).
  • Playwright Thornton Wilder developed The Matchmaker in Stratford – and when he needed a break from working on the play, he spent his time helping out in the prop shop!
  • If you enjoyed Seana McKenna and Tom McCamus’ chemistry in the 2010 production of Dangerous Liaisons, you’ll be thrilled to see this superstar pair together again in the leading roles of Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder.
  • The designer, Santo Loquasto, has long been creating for the Festival stage – and his set and costume designs for The Matchmaker are exquisite.  If you’ve seen Dangerous Liaisons (2010), Cyrano de Bergerac (2009) or Oliver! (2006) – to name just a few productions – you’ve probably admired Mr. Loquasto’s work.

Are you ready to enjoy The Matchmaker? Log into our website with promotion code 43618 to purchase your tickets, then kick back and get ready to celebrate the long weekend all month long!

p.s. Tickets to The Matchmaker make a great Mother’s Day gift. Order yours just in time to celebrate Mom this Sunday!

*Offer may expire without notice. Taxes and service charges extra. Some conditions apply. Only available online.