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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Stratford Festival 2011 Season Casting in a Nutshell

The Merry Wives of Windsor  Festival Theatre
Directed by Frank Galati
Geraint Wyn Davies - Falstaff
Tom Rooney - Ford
Lucy Peacock - Mistress Ford
Janet Wright - Mistress Quickly
Tom McCaums - Page
Andrea Ruge - Anne Page
Laura Condlln - Mistress Page
Nigel Bennett - Dr. Caius
Andrew Gillies - Sir Hugh Evans

Richard III Tom Patterson Theatre
Directed by Miles Potter
Seana McKenna - Richard III
Martha Henry - Margaret
Peter Donaldson - Buckingham
Yanna McIntosh - Queen Elizabeth
Bethany Jillard - Lady Anne
Sean Arbuckle - Catesby
Nigel Bennett - Hastings
Andrew Gillies - Stanley

Titus Andronicus Tom Patterson Theatre
Director: Darko Tresnjak
John Vickery - Titus Andronicus
Peter Donaldson - Marcus Andronicus
Amanda Lisman - Lavinia
Claire Lautier - Tamora
Sean Arbuckle - Saturninus
Dion Johnstone - Aaron

Twelfth Night Festival Theatre
Director Des McAnuff
Brian Dennehy - Sir Toby Belch
Stephen Ouimette - Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Ben Carlson - Feste
Tom Rooney - Malvolio
Sara Topham - Olivia
Mike Shara - Orsino
Andrea Runge - Viola
Cara Ricketts - Maria

Shakepeare's Will Studio Theatre
Director - Miles Potter
Seana McKenna - Anne Hathaway

Camelot  Avon Theatre
Director - Gary Griffin
Geraint Wyn Davies - King Arthur
Brent Carver - Merlyn / Pellinore
Lucy Peacock - Morgan Le Fey

Jesus Christ, Superstar Avon Theatre
Director - Des McAnuff
Paul Nolan - Jesus
Chilina Kennedy - Mary Magdalene
Brent Carver - Pontius Pilot
Josh Young - Judas
Bruce Dow - Herod
Mike Nadajewski - Peter
Marcus Nance - Caiaphus
Lee Siegel - Simon
Aaron Walpole - Annas

Hosanna Studio Theatre
Director - Weyni Mengesha
Gareth Potter - Hosanna
Oliver Becker - Cuirette

The Little Years Studio Theatre
Director - Chris Abraham
Yanna McIntosh - Grace
Irene Poole - Kate
Chick Reid - Alice
Bethany Jillard - Tanya / Young Kate

The Grapes of Wrath Avon Theatre
Director - Antoni Cimolino
Chilina Kenndy - Rose of Sharon
Janet Wright - Ma
Victor Ertmanis - Pa
Randy Hughson - Uncle John
Chick Reid - Granma
Evan Buliung - Tom Joad
Paul Nolan - Al

The Homecoming Avon Theatre
Director - Jennifer Tarver
Brian Dennehy - Max
Stephen Ouimette - Sam
Mike Shara - Teddy
Ian Lake - Joey
Cara Ricketts - Ruth

The Misanthrope Festival Theatre
Director - Brian Bedford
Brian Bedford - Oronte
Ben Carlson - Alceste
Juan Chioran - Philinte
Sara Topham - Celimene
Steve Ross - Clitandre
Kelli Fox - Arsinoe

Festival Theatre:
The Misanthrope
Twelfth Night
The Merry Wives of Windsor

Avon Theatre:
Jesus Christ Superstar
The Homecoming
The Grapes of Wrath

Tom Patterson Theatre:
Richard III
Titus Andronicus

Studio Theatre:
Shakespeare's Will
The Little Years

Key casting complete for Jesus Christ Superstar, Hosanna, Grapes of Wrath, The Misanthrope, The Little Years


Leads cast for Titus Andronicus

Peter Donaldson
October 7, 2010… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is pleased to announce that key casting is confirmed for a number of 2011 productions. Among those returning in leading roles next season are Oliver Becker, Juan Chioran, Laura Condlln, Peter Donaldson, Victor Ertmanis, Dion Johnstone, Claire Lautier, Amanda Lisman, Tom McCamus, Yanna McIntosh, Irene Poole, Chick Reid, Sara Topham, John Vickery and Josh Young, in addition to those previously announced.

“Our ensemble goes from strength to strength,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “We have an extraordinary depth throughout the whole company, which is what I think a great repertory company is all about – artists who can tackle any challenge presented to them.

“This is a dream for any artistic director: to produce a season that combines the best of the classical and contemporary repertory and to have a company so strong that you can’t wait to get to work each day. I can’t brag about them enough; they’re just terrific.”

“I’m really delighted with the company that Des and his team have put together,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “These artists provide continuity of practice along with fresh new voices and perspectives.”

Jesus Christ Superstar
Josh Young, who made a smashing Festival debut as Che in Evita, will be returning to play Judas in the 2011 production of Jesus Christ Superstar directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff.

Mr. Young joins a dream team of musical performers previously announced: Brent Carver as Pilate, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene and Paul Nolan as Jesus.

Mike Nadajewski
Audiences will be delighted to learn that Festival favourite Bruce Dow will return to the musical stage to play Herod, after a season of classical performances in The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Mike Nadajewski, who wowed critics and audiences in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, will play Peter in the production. Mr. Dow and Mr. Nadajewski also appeared together in Mr. McAnuff’s 2009 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which will play Toronto this December as part of the Mirvish Productions season.

Marcus Nance, who was last at Stratford in 2008’s smash hit The Music Man, will return to play Caiaphas. Lee Siegel has been cast as Simon and Aaron Walpole as Annas.

The Grapes of Wrath
Key casting for General Director Antoni Cimolino’s production of The Grapes of Wrath has also been completed. Tom McCamus, whose 2010 season was spent playing with great gusto the villainous roles of Captain Hook in Peter Pan and le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, will play the philosophical Jim Casy. In 10 seasons at Stratford, the Dora, Gemini and ACTRA award-winning Mr. McCamus has become one of the Festival’s most admired actors, playing leading roles in such productions as An Ideal Husband, Timon of Athens, Richard III, The Threepenny Opera, Waiting for Godot, Coriolanus, Camelot, Julius Caesar and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Victor Ertmanis, who played Whit in Bartholomew Fair, will return for his fourth season to play Pa to Janet Wright’s Ma (previously announced). This season Mr. Ertmanis played Oliver Martext in As You Like It and Paulina’s Steward in The Winter’s Tale. His other Stratford credits include Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Soothsayer in Julius Caesar.

The Grapes of Wrath will also feature Dora and Gemini award-winning actor Randy Hughson as Uncle John. Mr. Hughson played Jordan Knockem in Bartholomew Fair and Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 2009. This season he played Antigonus and Father Time in The Winter’s Tale and continues as Corin in As You Like It. His Second Gravedigger was a standout in 2008’s Hamlet.

Chick Reid, last seen on the Stratford stage in 2007 as the Abbess in The Comedy of Errors and Lady Markby in An Ideal Husband, will return for her ninth season to play Granma. Among her Stratford credits, Ms Reid has played Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Calphurnia in Julius Caesar.

As previously announced, the production will also feature Evan Buliung as Tom Joad, Chilina Kennedy as Rose of Sharon and Paul Nolan as Al.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Tom McCamus will also be featured in the 2011 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which he will play Page. Mistress Page will be played by Laura Condlln, Ms Condlln was beloved by audiences as Mrs. Darling in this year’s production of Peter Pan. She also beautifully portrayed Polly Peachum in the new work King of Thieves at the Studio Theatre and last season was a delightful Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 2010 will mark her 10th season with the Festival. She was a member of the Birmingham Conservatory class of 2005.

Also cast in the production are Nigel Bennett as Dr. Caius and Andrew Gillies as Sir Hugh Evans. A Gemini and ACTRA award-winning actor, Mr. Bennett joined the Stratford company this year as Bill Jukes in Peter Pan and Brown in King of Thieves. After two seasons in the 1980s, Mr. Gillies, a long-time member of the Shaw ensemble, returned to the Festival to play Panthino and the Third Outlaw in this season’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He also appeared in The Tempest.

Principal casting continues for The Merry Wives of Windsor, which will be directed by Frank Galati.

The Misanthrope
Key casting for The Misanthrope, directed by Brian Bedford, has been completed. Juan Chioran, who this year commands the stage as Juan Perón in Evita and Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate, will play Philinte. In 11 seasons at Stratford, Mr. Chioran has become a stalwart of the stage, standing out in the memories of theatregoers for his remarkable performances in such productions as Man of La Mancha, Three Sisters, Bartholomew Fair, Hamlet, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Sara Topham, who this winter will reprise her glorious portrayal of Gwendolen Fairfax in Mr. Bedford’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest at New York’s Roundabout Theatre, will play Célimène in The Misanthrope. This season Ms Topham has received great acclaim for her portrayal of Wendy in Peter Pan and la Présidente de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons. In 11 seasons at Stratford she has played such roles as Laurencia in Fuente Ovejuna, Cordelia in King Lear, Mabel in An Ideal Husband, Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice and Rosalind in As You Like It.

Martha Farrell
Martha Farrell, seen as the sexy Émilie in Dangerous Liaisons and as Lily in Peter Pan, has been cast as Eliante. Steve Ross, everyone’s favourite Gangster, will return for an eighth season to play Clitandre. In addition to his stand-out performance in Kiss Me, Kate, Mr. Ross is well remembered as Ragueneau in last season’s Cyrano de Bergerac. After returning to Shaw in 2010, Kelli Fox will join the Festival for a third season to play Arsinoé. Ms Fox made her Stratford debut in 2008, playing a memorable Cassandra in The Trojan Women, followed by a similarly outstanding portrayal of Natasha in Three Sisters in 2009. As previously announced, Mr. Bedford will also be featured in the production; he will play Oronte, and Ben Carlson will play Alceste.

Twelfth Night / The Homecoming
Sara Topham will also play Olivia in Mr. McAnuff’s production of Twelfth Night. She will be joined by Mike Shara as Orsino. Mr. Shara has also been cast as Teddy in The Homecoming, directed by Jennifer Tarver. After several successful seasons at the Shaw Festival, Mr. Shara had a dazzling Stratford debut in 2009, playing Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest and Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac. This season he delighted audiences as the Young Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale and Oliver in As You Like It. He has had an extensive television career and has performed at theatres across the country.

Ian Lake will play Teddy’s brother Joey. Mr. Lake, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, won theatregoers’ hearts this year as Silvius in As You Like It and Florizel in The Winter’s Tale. In his three seasons at Stratford he has also played Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Trouble-All in Bartholomew Fair and Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Titus Andronicus
John Vickery will take on the title role in Titus Andronicus, alongside Peter Donaldson, who will return to the Festival for his 25th season to play Marcus Andronicus. Joining them in the production, directed by Darko Tresnjak, are Claire Lautier as Tamora, Amanda Lisman as Lavinia, Dion Johnstone as Aaron and Sean Arbuckle as Saturninus.

Mr. Vickery returns for his fourth season to take on the role of Titus. This season he was well received in both his roles – Antonio in The Tempest, brother to Prospero, and the Duke of Milan in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Critics also praised his portrayal of Victor in 2009’s Zastrozzi. That same season he took on the roles of Ross in Macbeth and the Comte de Guiche in Cyrano de Bergerac. Among numerous Broadway roles, Mr. Vickery played the original Scar in The Lion King. His television career includes appearances in Frasier, NYPD Blue and all of the Star Trek series (with the exception of Voyager).

Mr. Donaldson, one of Canada’s leading classical actors, was last seen at Stratford in 2008, when he played Rufio in Caesar and Cleopatra, opposite Christopher Plummer. That same season he played a remarkable Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost and much praised Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet. Theatregoers will remember a host of stellar performances, including Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Kent in King Lear, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, Timon in Timon of Athens, Claudius in Hamlet and Jamie in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Ms Lautier played a delightful Silvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Ceres in The Tempest this season. She made her Stratford debut in 2008 as Aricie in Phèdre. Ms Lisman made an impressive Stratford debut in 2009, playing Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac and Julia in Zastrozzi. Mr. Johnstone played a memorable Caliban in the season’s The Tempest and Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Last season he played three major Shakespearean roles: Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Macbeth and Octavius Caesar in Julius Caesar. Returning for his 10th season, Mr. Arbuckle appeared most recently as the First Forest Lord in As You Like It and Camillo in The Winter’s Tale. His portrayal of Clifford Bradshaw in 2008’s Cabaret was beautifully drawn.

Richard III
Peter Donaldson has also been cast as Buckingham in Miles Potter’s production of Richard III, featuring Seana McKenna as Richard and Martha Henry as Margaret, as previously announced. Also cast in the production are Sean Arbuckle as Catesby, Nigel Bennett as Hastings, Andrew Gillies as Stanley and Bethany Jillard as Lady Anne. Ms Jillard returns to the Festival for a second season, having made an impressive Festival debut as Cécile Volanges in this year’s production of Dangerous Liaisons.

Yanna McIntosh will play Queen Elizabeth in the production.

The Little Years
Yanna McIntosh will also play Grace in John Mighton’s new version of The Little Years, commissioned by the Festival. This season Ms McIntosh received high praise for her portrayal of Hermione in The Winter’s Tale and Mme de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. In 2009, she pulled off a remarkable Shakespearean hat trick, playing Lady Macbeth, Titania and Calphurnia. Her Helen of Troy in 2008’s Trojan Women is also memorable. A Dora and Gemini award-winning actress, Ms McIntosh has dazzled Toronto audiences with such performances as Condoleezza Rice in Stuff Happens and the title role in Mary Stuart.

Irene Poole
Ms McIntosh will be joined in The Little Years by Irene Poole as Kate, Chick Reid as Alice and Bethany Jillard as Tanya and Young Kate. Retuning to the Festival for her third season, Ms Poole will play Kate. Ms Poole made her Stratford debut in 2008, playing a feisty Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew and Montague’s Wife in Romeo and Juliet, followed by a beautiful portrayal of Olga in Three Sisters in 2009.

Oliver Becker has been cast as Cuirette in Weyni Mengesha’s production of Hosanna. As previously announced, Gareth Potter will play the title role. Mr. Becker played Pork in King of Thieves this season and can still be seen as Starkey in Peter Pan. He made a memorable debut as Bernardo in the 2009 production of Zastrozzi. He also played Menteith in Macbeth and appeared in Cyrano de Bergerac that season. Mr. Becker has an extensive stage career in Toronto, and throughout Canada, and is a series regular in The Line and Rent a Goalie.

Casting continues for the 2011 season. The 2010 season runs until November 6, now featuring As You Like It; Kiss Me, Kate; Dangerous Liaisons; Evita and Peter Pan.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Festival launches Stratford Challenge for Ontario students


Grand prize of $10,000 for performance competition
Total purse of $17,500

For youth, ‘All the world’s a stage’

October 4, 2010… Attention Ontario high-school students: bring the greatness of Shakespeare to life! The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is launching a huge performance contest called the Stratford Challenge, with the first ever competition focusing on the works of Shakespeare. Enter the Stratford Shakespeare Challenge and you could win the grand prize of $10,000 out of a total purse of $17,500.

It’s part of a new initiative to promote the performing arts amongst students, made possible by donor Felice Sabatino, who plans to expand the Stratford Challenge in coming years to incorporate other genres, such as musicals and new works.

“Felice is a very civic-minded person who has been a supporter of the Festival for some time. As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, he is filled with ideas, one of which he brought to us last year – a performing arts festival for students,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “He and I had many delightful conversations culminating in this wonderful Stratford Challenge. We are very grateful for his enthusiastic interest in coming to us with the concept for this competition and the generous seed money to get it off the ground.”

“The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the most significant classical theatre company in North America, is leading the way in enriching arts education,” says Mr. Sabatino, who has produced other world-class challenges. “The Stratford Challenge is intended to further that enrichment, by inspiring and nurturing the theatre artists of tomorrow and reaching out to the next generation of theatregoers. It’s my hope that the $10,000 prize – the largest prize being offered to performing arts students – will be a great incentive and will take kids beyond watching theatre to actually creating it. This approach allows interaction with other students and with the playwright, which can’t be realized any other way. Preparation for a performance of this caliber involves a different kind of teamwork than is usually experienced at school, which I believe will help students visualize and perform on a bigger stage.”

“The Stratford Challenge is another initiative we are launching to introduce more and more students to Shakespeare and Stratford,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “In 2009, we launched a new education outreach project to ensure that every student in Ontario has the opportunity to see a production at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival at least once in their academic career. These are just two of the many educational programs we offer in Stratford.”

The Stratford Shakespeare Challenge asks high school students in Ontario to produce a 10-minute scene from Shakespeare, record it and send it off to the Festival, where a panel of current and former Festival artists will review the entries and select five finalists.

These five groups will be invited to Stratford to produce their scene on the stage of the Festival’s Studio Theatre, where a different panel of current and former Festival artists and other experts will adjudicate, provide feedback and select the winners.

“Imagine the incredible experience of coming to this beautiful town and performing in the same environment as the magnificent Christopher Plummer – this is inspiration that will endure for a lifetime,” says Mr. Sabatino.

The first-place team will receive $10,000 – to be shared by the school and the students involved in the scene. The remaining prizes go directly to the students, to be split amongst members of the teams. Second place will receive $2,500 and third place $1,500. The fourth- and fifth-placing groups will receive $1,000 each.

“It is my hope that students will spend their winnings enriching their arts education,” says Mr. Sabatino.

Students are also encouraged to submit a two-minute trailer for their video to post on the Festival’s social media pages.

Stratford Writing Challenge

In addition there will be a Stratford Writing Challenge to broaden the reach of the competition to students interested in other creative disciplines. Entrants for this competition will be asked to write 500 words on “Why Shakespeare?” The winner will receive $1,500. Full details are online.

“The writing competition is a way of reaching out to students interested in other aspects of the creative disciplines and encouraging intellectual and spiritual reflection,” says Mr. Sabatino. “I hope that in the future, we will be able to reach out even further by offering challenges in musical theatre, new work and soliloquies and I would love to see the project expand nationally and internationally. It is my hope that directors, writers and others will gain a fuller perspective and appreciation for the art through the various aspects of this competition.”

The Stratford Challenge is open to Ontario students in Grades 9 through 12. They are asked to form teams to produce a scene of no more than 10 minutes in length from one of Shakespeare’s works. Teams will record their scene on a DVD and submit it to the Festival by February 28, 2011. The deadline for the essay competition is the same. Full details can be found online at

It is hoped that the competition will expand beyond Ontario in future years.

“The Stratford Challenge is a great way to get students excited about Shakespeare’s work,” says Mr. Cimolino. “I was a high-school student when I first visited the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and it was a production of Love’s Labour’s Lost that inspired me to pursue a career in classical theatre.

“Our Artistic Director Des McAnuff and many members of our company were similarly inspired by Stratford productions and we want to be sure to reach out to students to ensure they have the same opportunity to experience the work of the world’s greatest playwright.”

The Festival currently welcomes between 60,000 and 90,000 students each year. Through this challenge and other education programs, it is striving to surpass 120,000 annually.

“We really hope to encourage young people to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship with Shakespeare,” says Mr. McAnuff. “This challenge has the potential to spark an interest with students today and get them as excited about these plays as we are.

“Young people are our future. To capture their imaginations; to introduce them to a place where they will find insight, illumination and inspiration; to open the doors of their hearts and minds and souls to possibilities they might not otherwise perceive – this is one of our very highest priorities.”

For information on visiting the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and using its education programs, visit: where you will find links for students and teachers.

“This competition is a catalyst, encouraging greater interaction and engagement with the arts. It will spur future attendance and interest in all arts and will continue to reinforce Stratford as a leader in its field, as visionaries on stage and beyond,” says Mr. Sabatino. “This Challenge represents the embryonic greatness of the future.”

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2010 season runs until November 6, featuring As You Like It; Kiss Me, Kate; Dangerous Liaisons; Evita; and Peter Pan.


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