Celebrate 60 at the Festival one more time!

by Lisa Middleton

We can’t believe that there are only ten days left in our 2012 season – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to join us for one or two last hoorahs! With 25 performances left, you can enjoy one of these brilliant 60th season productions: The Matchmaker, Much Ado About Nothing, 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

There’s always something special about the final performances of a run – the energy is great. I love coming to these performances to see how a show matures over the season, and I am always pleasantly surprised. Since it will be five long months until I see another production on the Festival’s stages, I always make sure I soak up every last second of the fun!

Here are a few of the moments I am excited to experience one last time before we bid our 60th season adieu on October 28.

  1. Taking my daughter to see You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown one last time!  We’ve become Peanuts-obsessed at chez Middleton this season!

  2. Enjoying a performance of The Matchmaker on October 25 with our fabulous social media followers. Want to join us? Click here to get $20.12 tickets and to join me and our Social Marketing Coordinator, Christi Rutledge, at our pre-show reception – good food, good friends and lots of laughs thanks to The Matchmaker!

  3. Getting to meet those “dancing feet” again! I love a good musical and I love tap dancing, and the cast of 42nd Street deliver both amazingly well.

  4. Watching real-life married couple Ben Carlson and Deb Hay fall in love on stage as the feuding foes Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

  5. Listening to the wonderfully funny songs of The Pirates of Penzance ! I’ll be there tomorrow with my daughter – if you’re in the audience I’d love to meet you at intermission, just tweet to me at @stratfest!

There’s still time before the curtain closes, folks! I’ll see you at the theatre!

p.s. If you’re not able to make it, you still have 10 days to enjoy all of the wonderful production footage we have posted on our YouTube channel!


Beat the heat with our midsummer sale!

by Lisa Middleton

“My Oberon! what visions have I seen!/ Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.” — William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Does this hot weather have you seeing crazy things? Then it’s time to get out of the sun with the Festival’s midsummer sale! What better way to beat this heat than with $39 tickets* to selected shows between now and August 4!

Join us on any of the dates below at this special summer rate!

 Here’s how to place your order!
  1. Log into our website with promotion code 44972
  2. Select any performance from the list above on our calendar
  3. Once you’ve selected a date, ensure you have the “promotion” price type selected from the drop-down menu
  4. Select your seats
  5. Complete your orderOR

Purchase your tickets using Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available through our website and through Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Some conditions apply.

Festival marks anniversary with opening of Henry V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening week in review!

by Christi Rutledge

Opening week has flown by, but not without a lot of hard work and celebration! If you weren’t able to make it out, or haven’t had a chance to crack open a newspaper, here’s a bit of what you missed!

Monday: Opening Night – Much Ado About Nothing
There is always an extra special buzz of excitement in the air on opening night (perhaps it’s the bagpipers :)). The pomp and circumstance, the glamour and the sense of anticipation all make your skin tingle. If you weren’t able to be there for the opening of our 60th season, or if you want to take it in again, here are some highlights from the evening.

Opening Night Red Carpet Live Stream

What were people saying about Much Ado About Nothing
“Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay are brilliant together” – Twitter

“Much Ado is a must see! For brevity’s sake let it suffice to say the star studded cast pays tribute to the vast depth of this great company.” – Facebook

“Tears of laughter, sadness and joy… it’s hard to ask for much more from a night at the theatre.” -Kelly Nestruck, THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Check out some of these beautiful production photos!

Tuesday: 42nd Street

All that glitters is theatrical gold in 42nd Street! Here’s what you had to say about this dazzling tap musical!

“We were blown away by 42nd Street!! Awesome production!” – Facebook

“I smiled through the entire show! Cannot recommend #ssf42nd highly enough. Entire cast were amazing!” – Twitter

Wednesday: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

It’s hard not to smile when you’re watching Charlie Brown. This show is the entire cast’s Stratford début (with the exception of Stephen Patterson) and boy, did they rock it!

Here is the cast of Charlie Brown singing “Beethoven Day” (#SQUEE, seriously!)

“@stratfest I laughed so hard during #ssfCharlie I cried. Tears. Pouring down my face. Brilliantly done. Also: best Snoopy ever. Thanks!” – Twitter

“LOVED Charlie Brown last night 🙂 I usually just see the Shakespearean productions but this was such a treat . I am going to recommend it to everyone!” – Facebook

Thursday: Cymbeline

The rarely staged Cymbeline opened to rave reviews from critics and fans alike. This beautiful late Shakespearean romance stole my heart from the first line – don’t miss seeing it at the Tom Patterson Theatre!

View more production photos from Cymbeline here!

This is what you thought of Cymbeline

“#ssfCymbeline a moving, funny, beautifully staged production. The actors are inspiring, reminds me why I want to be one. Get your tickets!” – Twitter

“Just left the theatre after seeing Cymbeline. WOW! Loved it!” – Facebook

Friday: The Pirates of Penzance

The beloved Gilbert and Sullivan made a fabulous, splashy reappearance on Friday night at the Avon Theatre. I couldn’t wait to see this personal favourite of mine on opening night! If you’re into fabulous music, comedy, steampunk design and magnificent casting (and really, who isn’t) you’re going to loooove this show!

Here’s a bit of what you can expect to see on stage:

More of your reviews from Pirates!
“I saw [The] Pirates of Penzance today and it was PHENOMENAL!!! It was the first play I’ve ever seen and my mum and I were fortunate enough to get seats 2nd row from the front. I’ve heard amazing things about the Festival but what I experienced today went WELLLLLL above and beyond my expectations. I will absolutely go back and bring all my friends and family with me!!” – Facebook

“#SSFPIRATES of PENZANCE is a GLORIOUS thing! See it now so you’ll have time to see it again & again b/c it’s extraordinary!” – Twitter

Saturday: The Matchmaker

On Saturday afternoon we launched our beautiful 60th season book, Stratford Behind the Scenes. If you haven’t had a chance to peruse it yet, you need to! Stratford Behind the Scenes explores the process of building a season, from choosing the playbill to set construction to performance. Filled with interviews, observations and breathtaking full-colour photography, this new coffee-table book will lead readers on a fascinating journey into corners of the Festival seldom seen by members of the public. Keep watching for the interactive digital version of this book filled with exclusive video footage from behind the scenes!

From the launch we were off to our last opening (at least for this month!), The Matchmaker. It has been a long time since I’ve heard an audience laugh like they did during this performance. I had read the patron reviews, so I knew The Matchmaker would be amazing, but you really have to see it to understand how good it is!

Here’s a sneak peek at this show! (Seana McKenna and Tom McCamus together on stage – perfection!)

More patron reviews from The Matchmaker!
“The Matchmaker is one of the best productions we’ve seen at the Festival, and we’ve see a lot! ” – Facebook

“I saw “The Matchmaker” on Friday night and it really should be on everyone’s must-see list this summer. The whole thing just sparkles with wit and humour!” – Facebook

“@stratfest LOVED #ssfMatchmaker was hilarious, definitely taking more friends & family 2 see it and it is an excuse to go again!!” – Twitter

I’m not sure whether to cheer or cry – perhaps a bit of both! Opening week is always a highlight for me, so it’s sad to see it end, but it’s also exciting to have the season in full swing!

Do you have any favourite opening week moments? Let us know in the comment box below!

Developmental Services Family Day at the Festival

by Christi Rutledge

We’re excited to be partnering with the Community Living Association of Ontario for a special Developmental Services Family Day on Saturday, June 2. At 2 p.m., we’ll be getting together to enjoy a performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!

Here’s a little bit from Community Living Ontario’s website to help you get to know them:

Community Living Ontario is a non-profit, provincial association that advocates for people who have an intellectual disability to be fully included in all aspects of community life.

The goal of Community Living Ontario is:

That all persons live in a state of dignity, share in all elements of living in the community, and have the opportunity to participate effectively.

Community Living Ontario envisions a society where people who have an intellectual disability belong and feel respected.

For more information, you can visit Community Living Ontario online or call 1.800.278.8025.

If you or someone you know would benefit from attending the Festival’s Developmental Services Family Day, please join us on June 2! We are dedicated to making the theatre a space for all people to enjoy.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a funny and touching story that can be appreciated by people of all ages and experiences. A fabulous cast, dancing, music, colourful sets and costumes, projection screens and even a jet-powered dog house help bring this production to life!

Here are a few insights into the show from director and choreographer Donna Feore.

Happiness is… sharing the gift of theatre!

Tickets to our Developmental Services Family Day are just $30 and can be purchased through our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600. Simply quote promotion code 41597 when you call.*

*Not available online.

Visit Stratford this spring!

By: Christi Rutledge

Spring is beautiful wherever you are, but it’s particularly stunning here in Stratford. So what better way to spend a spring afternoon, evening or weekend than to come for a visit! Here are a few reasons why we think you’ll love our town at this time of year.

This weekend!

  • Our Easter egg hunt! On April 7, we’ll be giving away 50 pairs of tickets to see our 2012 production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Bring your friends and family and search Stratford for one of the eggs hidden by our Easter Beagle. For more details, click here!
  • Cozyn’s Garden Gallery is hosting a special class to help visitors create Easter-themed indoor planters with mixed live and artificial plants.
  • Create your own herb box at Anything Grows. Take home a long-lasting collection of herbs to use all year round!
  • The swans are back in the river! Take a guided swan tour. We promise that the birds will be beautiful, but we can’t promise that they’ll be nice! 😉

Other springtime activities!

  • Enjoy the lowest in-season ticket prices. When you come to see a spring performance you save up to $30 on the regular price of summer seats! Not only can you say that you saw a production first, you also know you that you got an amazing deal.
  • Spring will be in full bloom after a damp and drizzly winter! Enjoy a walk through the beautiful gardens around town and at the Festival Theatre.
  • Our delicious slow food market is on! If you’re coming for the weekend, be sure to visit the market on Sunday mornings and take local flavours to take home with you!
  • There are new menus for many of our restaurants, along with a couple of new places to look out for downtown!
  • The Festival Exhibition will be opening! Kick-off your season by taking a tour of this brand new space created by our Archives Department. Step back in time and see what the backstage of the original tent looked like, as well as special props, costumes, set pieces, photos and more from our sixty-year history. This should be fabulous!
  • Inspired by our Chocolate Trail, Stratfordwill be introducing “The Bacon and Ale Trail” this June!  Taste some of the best pork in the region, accompanied by Stratford Brewing Company beer.  Could you ask for a better pairing? To participate, please contact Danielle Brodhagen at dbrodhagen@visitstratford.ca.

New life, new productions, new restaurants, new menus, new Festival activities and a ton of local events – what more could you ask for?!

Share your favourite springtime activity with us!

It’s almost time for our Easter egg hunt – with a twist!

By: Lisa Middleton

It’s about that time of year… Time for our annual Easter egg hunt – with a twist! The Easter Bunny has taken a vacation and our Easter Beagle, Snoopy, will be hiding eggs all over the city of Stratford on Saturday, April 7, 2012.

Now, you might be wondering what types of things an Easter Beagle hides inside of eggs. The answer? Tickets to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, of course! Inside of each Easter egg you’ll find a voucher for a pair of tickets to see Charlie Brown.* Just take your voucher to the Festival Theatre Box Office to redeem your tickets, only one voucher per household! All 50 eggs will be hidden by 10 a.m. and the Box Office is open until 5 p.m., so that gives you, your family and friends seven hours to search the city! But remember: this special offer is on for one day only, so you must redeem your vouchers by 5 p.m. 

We’ll be leaving you hints as to where the tickets are hidden; on April 7, watch our Facebook page and our Twitter feeds @stratfest and @stratfestchris to help you in your search (use the hashtag #ssfCharlie). Let us know what you find! Share photos of your hunt on our Facebook page or on our Twitter feeds… and see if you can catch our Easter Beagle!

We’re so excited to share this special event with you! Before you hit the streets, find out a bit more about You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by the wonderful Donna Feore!

About the musical:
It’s a typically challenging day in the life of Charlie Brown, from trying to get his kite to fly to trying to find the nerve to talk to that cute little red-headed girl. Meanwhile, Charlie’s friends – and even his dog, Snoopy – face challenges of their own in their pursuit of that fleeting thing called happiness.

Meet the cast:

Check out some of the set pieces for Charlie Brown!

*Tickets will be available for performances of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown on May, 15, 18, 22, 24, 26 and 29. Each voucher can be redeemed for two free tickets, only one per house hold. Vouchers must be redeemed before 5 p.m. on April 7, 2012, or else they become null and void.