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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Graham Abbey returns to join cast of Cymbeline; Ensemble named for The War of 1812


[Press Release] November 29, 2011… As key casting for 2012 nears completion, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce that GrahamAbbey will return to the company to play Posthumus in Cymbeline. Also returning for the 60th season are Nigel Bennett, DanChameroy, Josh Epstein, Kyle Golemba, Gabrielle Jones, Nora McLellan, Timothy D. Stickney, Brian Tree and Geoffrey Tyler.

The following actors will make up the ensemble of The War of 1812: Paul Braunstein, Greg Campbell, Richard Alan Campbell, Mac Fyfe, Jacob James, Linda Prystawska and Michaela Washburn.

They join the following actors, previously announced for the 2012 season: Sean Arbuckle, John Beale, Richard Binsley, Kyle Blair, James Blendick, Skye Brandon, Andrew Broderick, Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Laura Condlln, Naomi Costain, Cynthia Dale, Deborah Hay, Randy Hughson, Peter Hutt, Robin Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Aaron Krohn, Ian Lake, Daniel MacIvor, Tom McCamus, Yanna McIntosh, Seana McKenna, Rick Miller, Alon Nashman, Stephen Patterson, Lucy Peacock, Erica Peck, Christopher Plummer, Gareth Potter, Cara Ricketts, Tom Rooney, Steve Ross, Andrea Runge, Tyrone Savage, Mike Shara, E.B. Smith, Ken James Stewart, John Vickery, Amy Wallis, Geraint Wyn Davies and Kevin Yee.

Graham Abbey
Graham Abbey, who will also play Aigisthos in Elektra, first joined the Festival company as a child actor in 1982 and returned as a leading player in the late 1990s. He played the title roles in Henry V, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Henry VIII, and was featured in other key Shakespearean roles, including Ferdinand in The Tempest, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prince Hal in Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2),  Jaques in As You Like It, and Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus. His other roles at Stratford include Happy in Death of a Salesman, Algernon Montford in the four-act version of The Importance of Being Earnest, D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and Warwick in The Lark. Mr. Abbey has a number of film and television credits and won a Dora Award for his portrayal of Prince-Don-Squeeze-the-Charming in Ross Petty’s Snow White and the Magnificent Seven.

Nigel Bennett returns for a third season to play Caius Lucius in Cymbeline. Seen this past season as Doctor Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Lord Hastings in Richard III, Mr. Bennett made his Stratford debut in 2010 as Bill Jukes in Peter Pan and Brown in King of Thieves. A Gemini Award-winning actor, Mr. Bennett has extensive film and television credits, including The Border, Lexx, Forever Knight, At the Hotel, Psi Factor, Strike, Murder at 1600, The Skulls, Narrow Margin, Murdoch Mysteries, The Kennedys, Counterstrike and The Sea Wolf. His stage credits include, among others, That Face for Nightwood Theatre, Medea for MTC/Mirvish, Scrooge, Art, Closer, Hamlet, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Retreat from Moscow, A Few Good Men, The Price, The Goat, The Sound of Music, Blue/Orange and Betrayal for the Neptune Theatre and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole for Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End.

Brian Tree will also join the company of Cymbeline, playing Pisanio. His Stratford credits over 22 years include Dubois in The Misanthrope, Adam in As You Like It, Old Shepherd/Archidamus in The Winter’s Tale, Humphrey Wasp in Bartholomew Fair, Erronius in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Costard in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Touchstone in As You Like It, Stephano in The Tempest, Joxer Daly in Juno and the Paycock, Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank, Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Dolly Spanker in London Assurance, Oswald in King Lear, which also toured to New York’s Lincoln Center, Caversham in An Ideal Husband, Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and many others. In addition to his work on the stage, Mr. Tree has appeared in Billable Hours, La Femme Nikita, Traders, Forever Knight, Street Legal and eight productions of A Taste of Shakespeare.

Cymbeline will also feature Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Imogen and Geraint Wyn Davies as Cymbeline, with Ian Lake as Arviragus, Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Mike Shara as Cloten, E.B. Smith as Guiderius and John Vickery as Belarius.

Production support for Cymbeline is generously provided by Barbara and John Schubert and Diana Tremain.

Dan Chameroy to play McGrew in Robert Service musical

Dan Chameroy will return for his 11th season to play McGrew in Wanderlust, the new musical about poet Robert Service. This past season he played Ensign Pistol in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Sir Dinadan in Camelot. His other Stratford credits include Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale, William and Charles in As You Like It, Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Martin in Palmer Park, Curly in Oklahoma!, Father Karolyi in Pentacost, Posthumus in Cymbeline and Lancelot in Camelot. Mr. Chameroy’s other credits include Plumbum in Robin Hood at the Elgin Theatre, The Magic Fire and High Society at the Shaw Festival, The Drowsy Chaperone at the Winter Garden and Into the Woods at Canadian Stage. He has a number of film and television credits and is a Dora Award winner for his portrayal of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Wanderlust will also feature Robin Hutton as Louise and Tom Rooney as Robert Service, with Randy Hughson as Mr. McGee and Lucy Peacock as Mrs. Munsch.

The production sponsor of Wanderlust is CIBC. Production support is generously provided by Martie and Bob Sachs.

Josh Epstein and Nora McLellan join The Matchmaker

Josh Epstein will return for his second season to play Barnaby Tucker in The Matchmaker and Nora McLellan will return to play Flora Van Huysen. Mr. Epstein made his Stratford debut in 2011 in The Grapes of Wrath and Titus Andronicus and as a member of the Birmingham Conservatory. His credits elsewhere include Barfee in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Belfry/Arts Club); Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Vancouver Playhouse, Jessie and Ovation nominee); Leo in The Producers (Arts Club, Ovation Award); Studies in Motion (Electric Company, Canadian tour); The Drowsy Chaperone (Canadian tour); Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Stage West); Death of a Salesman (Theatre Aquarius); The Lord of the Rings (Mirvish Productions); Bard on the Beach (three seasons); and a European tour of his solo show.  Mr. Epstein is a two-time Jessie acting nominee with several TV and film credits and an award-winning playwright and filmmaker.

In three seasons at Stratford, Ms McLellan has taken on such roles as Myrna in King of Thieves, Fräulein Schneider in Cabaret, Athena in The Trojan Women, Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! and Anna Jedlikova in Pentecost. A veteran of 22 seasons at the Shaw Festival, Ms McLellan has also recently appeared in such productions as August: Osage County and The Drowsy Chaperone at the Vancouver Playhouse, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again at Persephone Theatre and Harvey at Montreal’s Segal Centre. She won a Dora Award for her performance in Music for Contortionist at the Tarragon Theatre and du Maurier World Stage and a Jessie Award for her portrayal of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Matchmaker will also feature Tom McCamus as Horace Vandergelder, Seana McKenna as Dolly Levi, Laura Condlln as Irene Molloy, Mike Shara as Cornelius Hackl and Geraint Wyn Davies as Malachi Stack, with Skye Brandon as Ambrose Kemper, Cara Ricketts as Ermengarde and Andrea Runge as Minnie Fay.

Production support for The Matchmaker is generously provided by Jennifer Surridge in memory of Robertson Davies.

42nd Street to feature Kyle Golemba, Gabrielle Jones, Geoffrey Tyler

Kyle Golemba, retuning for his fifth season, will play Andy Lee in 42nd Street. He will be joined by Gabrielle Jones as Maggie and Geoffrey Tyler as Bert Barry. This season Mr. Golemba was seen as Thomas in Jesus Christ Superstar and the Bookkeeper in The Grapes of Wrath. His other credits at Stratford include Gremio in Kiss Me, Kate, A-rab in West Side Story, Evita, Fuente Ovejuna, The Music Man and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as several understudy performances as Che in Evita and Bill in Kiss Me, Kate. Mr. Golemba also appeared in the Toronto transfer of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. His other credits include Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables for Stage West, Rolf in The Sound of Music for the Neptune Theatre and his all-Canadian cabaret Making Love in a Canoe.

Ms Jones will also play Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, the play in which she made her Stratford debut, as Billie, in 1994. That same year she also played Daisy and Beetle in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Her other Stratford credits include Hortense in The Boy Friend, Vittoria in The Gondoliers, Maud Dunlop in The Music Man, Lady Anne in Camelot and Lady Montague in Romeo and Juliet. More recently she has been at the Shaw Festival, where, in 12 seasons, her roles have included Mrs. Eynsord-Hill in My Fair Lady, the Countess in The Admirable Crichton, Charlotta in The Cherry Orchard and Mrs. Kramer in One Touch of Venus. Ms Jones enjoyed a long association with the hit musical Mamma Mia!, originating the role of Rosie in the first North American production and U.S. national tour and taking on the role of Donna on tour and in Las Vegas.

After making his Stratford debut in 1992, Mr. Tyler returns for his third season in 2012. He appeared in the Stratford productions of HMS Pinafore, Uncle Vanya, Measure for Measure, Antony and Cleopatra, Gypsy and The Imaginary Invalid. Mr. Tyler’s recent credits elsewhere include Tom Shaw in the Theatre Orangeville production of Ned Durango, Sam in Sitting Pretty for Showboat Festival and the Balladeer in Assassins for Talk Is Free Theatre. He also was a member of the ensemble in Des McAnuff’s production of The Who’s Tommy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the U.K.

42nd Street will also feature Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor and Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, with Naomi Costain as Anytime Annie.

The production co-sponsors of 42nd Street are The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company and Union Gas.

Timothy D. Stickney joins cast of Henry V

Timothy D. Stickney, returning for his fourth season, will take on the role of Exeter in Henry V. This past season he was seen as Corporal Nim in The Merry Wives of Windsor and the Sea Captain in Twelfth Night. His other Stratford credits include Sebastian in The Tempest, Thurio in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Banquo in Macbeth, Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pothinus in Caesar and Cleopatra. His other recent credits include Macbeth at the New York State Theatre Institute, Hamlet for Take Wing and Soar, Oswald in the Public Theater’s 2007 production of King Lear with Kevin Kline, and Escalus in Romeo and Juliet for Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. He is best known on television for playing R.J. Gannon on One Life to Live.

Henry V will feature Aaron Krohn in the title role, with Ben Carlson as Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Lucy Peacock as the Hostess and Tom Rooney as Pistol.

The production sponsor of Henry V is Scotiabank. Production support is generously provided by Claire and Daniel Bernstein, Jane Petersen-Burfield and Family, and Catherine and David Wilkes.

Funding for the 2012 season is provided by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

Tickets for the 2012 season are now on sale to Members of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and will be available to the general public beginning January 7. To order call 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

The 2012 season features 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.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Stratford mourns the loss of John Neville


John Neville 1925 - 2011


November 20, 2011…  It was with great sadness that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival learned of the death of John Neville. Artistic Director from 1986 to 1989, Mr. Neville was instrumental in returning the Festival to profitability after a period of economic instability. He had an amazing flair for programming and for identifying and nurturing talent.

Mr. Neville died at Toronto’s Wellesley Central Place, on Saturday, November 19, of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.

A much-beloved leader and fellow player, Mr. Neville will be greatly missed by the Festival family and remembered as man of great warmth, strength and inspiration.

“John Neville was a superb actor, an outstanding director and a terrific artistic leader of our Festival,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “Among his other achievements, he contributed significantly to our exploration of modern repertoire alongside the classics. His charisma and charm were matched by the generosity of his spirit, and I have always been immensely grateful for the phenomenal support he extended to me, as he did to so many others. We are all in his debt, and we feel his loss deep in our hearts.”

“John Neville’s brave programming and careful stewardship helped save the Festival at a time of extreme financial hardship,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Despite his passing, his light will continue to burn bright at the Festival in the hearts of the many talents he encouraged and nourished. John asked me to join his company in 1988 in Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well – the Shakespeare plays that began the Festival in 1953 – and T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. Those plays were the hallmark of his artistic programming – intelligent, challenging, theatrical and respectful of tradition. In the U.K. he was a celebrated actor, perhaps one of the best of his generation, but he left all of that to come to Canada and lead several of this country’s finest theatres, culminating in his Artistic Directorship of the Stratford Festival.”

Mr. Neville joined the Festival company in 1983 to play Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing. The following year he reprised the role of Don Armado and also took on the roles of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice – with Colm Feore, Richard Monette, Domini Blythe and Seana McKenna – and Major Pollack and Mr. Malcolm in Separate Tables, a production which toured to Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre. In 1985, he focused on his transition to Artistic Director, planning the 1986 season, when he would direct his first Stratford production, Hamlet, with Brent Carver in the title role. During his tenure he served as both a director and performer, playing Anton Chekov in Intimate Admiration and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady – both opposite his favourite leading lady, Lucy Peacock – and directing Othello and Three Sisters.

He was responsible for bringing a number of actors into the company, including Antoni Cimolino, Juan Chioran, Eric McCormack and Geraint Wyn Davies, and fostering the careers of a great many others, including Keith Dinicol, Colm Feore, Richard Monette, Lucy Peacock, Goldie Semple and Susan Wright. He also employed more Canadian designers and directors than had been the case prior to his tenure.

Mr. Neville was a man of enormous generosity, who felt it was important to heal old wounds and welcome artists back into the Festival fold. Under his tenure, he hired his predecessors Michael Langham, Jean Gascon and Robin Phillips to direct, as well as his successors, David William and Richard Monette. In fact, it was Mr. Neville who gave Mr. Monette his first major directing assignment, The Taming of the Shrew on the Festival stage.

Though born in England, where he had an illustrious career, Mr. Neville was a champion of the theatre in his adopted homeland. He immigrated to Canada in 1972, first directing The Rivals at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He then served as Artistic Director of Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre from 1973 to 1978 and of Halifax’s Neptune Theatre from 1978 to 1983.

Remembered primarily as a man of the theatre, Mr. Neville acted extensively in the U.K., on Broadway and in Canada. He was deeply involved with the Old Vic Theatre, where in one production he alternated the roles of Othello and Iago with his friend Richard Burton. One of the most handsome and accomplished young actors of his day, Mr. Neville, appeared in numerous West End productions and created the memorable title role in the stage play Alfie. He was a leading actor in the first season of the Chichester Festival, under the artistic direction of Laurence Olivier, and was the founding artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse, where, in its inaugural season, he played the title role in Coriolanus, directed by Tyrone Guthrie

He had almost a hundred film and television credits dating back as far as 1950, but perhaps his greatest fame on the screen came in the latter part of his life. He was in his mid-60s when he was cast in the title role of the Terry Gilliam film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which became a cult hit, and in the 1990s he had a recurring role – the Well-Manicured Man – in the popular TV series The X Files, which he reprised in The X Files film. More recently he was featured in Trudeau, with Colm Feore, Crime and Punishment, with Vanessa Redgrave, Crispin Glover, John Hurt and Margot Kidder, and the David Cronenberg thriller Spider. He was also a regular on such series as Grand, Amazon and Emily of New Moon, with appearances on numerous other shows including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Queer as Folk.

Mr. Neville was a member of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Canada.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Caroline, and by his children Sarah Neville (John Dungey), Matthew Neville (Joy Cheskes), Stephen Neville (Aneesha), Emma Dinicol (Keith), Rachel Neville Fox and Thomas Neville, and six grandchildren.

A private funeral will be held immediately. Details of a public memorial will be announced in the New Year.

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Monday, 14 November 2011

Casting confirmed for Jesus Christ Superstar at La Jolla Playhouse


[Press Release] 
November 12, 2011… Casting has been confirmed for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar at La Jolla Playhouse. With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar is directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff and will run in the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre from November 18 to December 31, 2011.

The cast will feature Bruce Dow as King Herod, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Jeremy Kushnier as Pontius Pilate, Mike Nadajewski as Peter, Paul Nolan as Jesus and Josh Young as Judas, with Marcus Nance as Caiaphas, Lee Siegel as Simon Zealotes and Aaron Walpole as Annas.
Also in the cast: Matt Alfano as Thaddeus, Mary Antonini as Elizabeth, Karen Burthwright as Ruth, Jacqueline Burtney as Mary (Martha’s Sister), Mark Cassius as Matthew, Ryan Gifford as Bartholomew, Kaylee Harwood as Sarah, Melissa O’Neil as Martha/Maid by the Fire, Laurin Padolina as Rachel, Stephen Patterson as James the Lesser, Katrina Reynolds as Esther, Jaz Sealey as Thomas, Jason Sermonia as John, Julius Sermonia as James, Jonathan Winsby as Phillip, Sandy Winsby as Andrew and Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Matthew Rossoff as swings.
This ground-breaking rock opera, which reinvented musical theatre for the modern age, tells the story of the last week of Christ’s life. The zeal with which Christ’s followers are hailing him as the Son of God becomes a source of dismay to his disciple Judas Iscariot. Fearing that this tide of religious fervor will provoke brutal repression by the occupying Romans, Judas must make his fateful choice between faith and betrayal.
The Stratford production, which closed on November 6, received glowing reviews across the board. The Globe and Mail said, “This production is an absolute miracle,” while the Toronto Star called it “the best show you’ll see this year.” “A sparkling production literally pulsing with life,” wrote the Toronto Sun; and Variety enthused, “McAnuff has managed to come up with a vision that is faithful to the original but manages to make it seem fresh to an audience in 2011.”
Following the Playhouse run, Jesus Christ Superstar will open on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on Thursday, March 22, 2012, with previews beginning March 1.
Tickets are available online at LaJollaPlayhouse.org or at (858) 550-1010. 
 Cast (in alphabetical order)
Thaddeus                                 Matt Alfano
Elizabeth                                 Mary Antonini
Ruth                                         Karen Burthwright
Mary (Martha’s sister)            Jacqueline Burtney
Matthew/Priest                        Mark Cassius
King Herod                             Bruce Dow
Bartholomew                           Ryan Gifford
Sarah                                       Kaylee Harwood
Mary Magdalene                     Chilina Kennedy
Pontius Pilate                          Jeremy Kushnier
Peter                                        Mike Nadajewski
Caiaphas                                 Marcus Nance
Jesus Christ                             Paul Nolan
Martha/Maid by the Fire         Melissa O’Neil
Rachel                                     Laurin Padolina
James the Lesser/Priest           Stephen Patterson
Esther                                      Katrina Reynolds
Thomas                                   Jaz Sealey
John                                        Jason Sermonia
James                                      Julius Sermonia
Simon Zealotes                        Lee Siegel
Annas                                      Aaron Walpole
Phillip                                      Jonathan Winsby
Andrew/Priest                         Sandy Winsby
Judas Iscariot                          Josh Young
Swings                                     Jennifer Rider-Shaw, Matthew Rossoff

Artistic Credits
Director:                                              Des McAnuff
Choreographer:                                Lisa Shriver
Musical Director:                              Rick Fox
Set Designer:                                    Robert Brill
Costume Designer:                         Paul Tazewell
Lighting Designer:                            Howell Binkley
Video Designer:                                Sean Nieuwenhuis
Sound Designer:                               Jim Neil
Associate Choreographer:           Bradley “Shooz” Rapier
Associate Musical Director:          Laura Burton
Dramaturg:                                         Chad Sylvain
Fight Director:                                   Daniel Levinson
Stunt Coordinator:                         Simon Fon
Casting Director:                               Beth Russell
Technical Director:                           Elissa Horscroft
La Jolla Playhouse
Production Manager:                     Linda S. Cooper
La Jolla Playhouse
Associate Producer:                        Dana I. Harrel
Associate Lighting Designer:        Tristan Tidswell
Associate Sound Designer:          Jesse Ash
Assistant Director:                           Lezlie Wade
Assistant Choreographer:            Marc Kimelman
Assistant Set Designer:                 Brandon Kleiman
Assistant Costume Designer:      Laura Gardner
Assistant Lighting Designer:         Kaileigh Krysztofiak
Assistant Fight Director:                Kevin Robinson
Dance Captain:                                  Matthew Rossoff
Fight Captain:                                    Julius Sermonia
Stage Manager:                                Brian Scott
Assistant Stage Managers:           Meghan Callan, Melissa Rood

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Thursday, 3 November 2011

New article for StartStratford




The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is just about to close its doors for the season, but that doesn't mean the end of theatre in town... check out my article about the Perth County Players in StartStratford.com!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Twelfth Night going from stage to screen


Ben Carlson as Feste in Twelfth Night.
Photo by Celia Von Tiedemann
[Press Release]

October 25, 2011… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce the filming of the 2011 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff. The production will be screened exclusively at Cineplex and participating theatres across Canada in 2012.

The film will be produced and directed by Barry Avrich, who also produced the Festival’s films of Caesar and Cleopatra in 2008 and The Tempest in 2010.

“The nature of theatre is such that we practise our craft in the eternal present. After a production closes it lives only in our memory, but this is a rare opportunity to capture it in a more enduring medium,” says Mr. McAnuff. “Twelfth Night has had an exuberant response from student and adult audiences all season long. In fact we had to add a performance to help meet the demand for tickets. I’m absolutely delighted that it will be the third production filmed during my tenure.”

“In the past few years we have developed a strong relationship with Cineplex, releasing filmed versions of our productions of Caesar and Cleopatra, The Tempest and now Twelfth Night,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “These screenings give people across Canada a taste of what we do here in Stratford and an opportunity to see some of this country’s finest artists at work.”

“This stunning production beautifully filled the stage with an unyielding energy that makes the transfer from stage to screen a natural rebirth,” says Mr. Avrich.

“Cineplex audiences overwhelmingly embraced both previous Stratford productions,” said Pat Marshall, Vice-President Communications and Investor Relations, Cineplex Entertainment. “We are so pleased to once again feature this great Canadian institution and share Twelfth Night with our audiences across Canada.”

Twelfth Night features Brian Dennehy as Sir Toby Belch, Stephen Ouimette as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Tom Rooney as Malvolio, Andrea Runge as Viola and Sara Topham as Olivia, with Ben Carlson as Feste, Trent Pardy as Sebastian, Cara Ricketts as Maria and Mike Shara as Orsino.

Production sponsors include Violet Productions, Richard Rooney and the Slaight Family Foundation.

The music of Twelfth Night, written by Mr. McAnuff and Michael Roth, has been released on CD and is also available for download on CD Baby.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs until November 6, featuring Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Homecoming.


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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

2012 Season and Casting in a Nutshell

Festival Theatre:
Henry V (Shakespeare) directed by Des McAnuff
 - Henry V - Aaron Krohn
 - Fluellen - Ben Carlson
 - Alice - Deborah Hay
 - Montjoy - Juan Chioran
 - Archbishop of Cantebury - James Blendick
 - Hostess - Lucy Peacock
 - Pistol - Tom Rooney

Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare) directed by Christopher Newton
 - Benedick - Ben Carlson
 - Beatrice - Deborah Hay
 - Leonto - James Blendick
 - Jon Pedro - Juan Chioran
 - Dogberry - Richard Binsley
 - Hero - Bethany Jillard
 - Don John - Gareth Potter
 - Claudio - Tyrone Savage

42nd Street (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble) directed by Gary Griffin
 - Julian Marsh - Sean Arbuckle
 - Dorothy Brock - Cynthia Dale
 - Anytime Annie - Naomi Costain
 - Billy Lawlor - Kyle Blair

The Matchmaker (Thornton Wilder) directed by Chris Abraham
 - Dolly Levi - Seana McKenna
 - Horace Vandegelder - Tom McCamus
 - Irene Malloy - Laura Condlln
 - Malachi Stack - Geraint Wyn Davies
 - Amrose Kemper - Skye Brandon
 - Minnie Fay - Andrea Runge
 - Cornelius Hackl - Mike Shara

Avon Theatre:
A Word or Two (Christopher Plummer) directed by Des McAnuff
 - Christopher Plummer

The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert and Sullivan) directed by Ethan McSweeny
 - Pirate King - Sean Arbuckle
 - Frederic - Kyle Blair
 - Mabel Stanley - Amy Wallis
 - Sergeant of Police - Steve Ross

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown (book, music and lyrics by Clark M. Gesner) directed by Donna Feore
 - Snoopy - Stephen Patterson
 - Charlie Brown - Ken James Stewart
 - Lucy - Erica Peck
 - Sally - Amy Wallis
 - Schroeder - Andrew Broderick
 - Linus - Kevin Yee

Tom Patterson Theatre:
Cymbeline (Shakespeare) directed by Antoni Cimolino
 - Cymbeline - Geraint Wyn Davies
 - Imogen - Cara Ricketts
 - The Queen - Yanna McIntosh
 - Iachimo - Tom McCamus
 - Cloten - Mike Shara
 - Arviragus - Ian Lake
 - Guiderius - E.B. Smith
 - Belarius - John Vickery

Elektra (Sophocles, translation by Anne Carson) directed by Thomas Moschopoulos
 - Elektra - Yanna McIntosh
 - Clymenestra - Seana McKenna
 - Old Man - Peter Hutt
 - Chrysothemis - Laura Condlln
 - Orestes - Ian Lake

Wanderlust* (Morris Panych, music by Marek Norman) directed by Morris Panych
 - Louise - Robin Hutton
 - Robert Service - Tom Rooney
 - Mr. McGee - Randy Hughson
 - Mrs. Munsch - Lucy Peacock


Studio Theatre:
The Hirsch Project* (working title) (Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson) directed by Paul Thompson

The Best Brothers* (Daniel MacIvor) directed by Dean Gabourie
 - Hamilton - Daniel MacIvor
 - Kyle - John Beale

MacHomer (Rick Miller) directed by Rick Miller
 - all characters - Rick Miller

The War of 1812

*denotes world premiere

Festival casts title roles for Henry V, Cymbeline, Elektra, The Best Brothers, Charlie Brown

 [Press release]

October 18, 2011… As casting progresses for 2012, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce that the following actors will return for the 60th season: Sean Arbuckle, Richard Binsley, Skye Brandon, Laura Condlln, Naomi Costain, Randy Hughson, Peter Hutt, Robin Hutton, Bethany Jillard, Aaron Krohn, Ian Lake, Yanna McIntosh, Stephen Patterson, Gareth Potter, Cara Ricketts, Steve Ross, Andrea Runge, Tyrone Savage, E.B. Smith, John Vickery, and Geraint Wyn Davies. Joining the acting company in 2012 are: John Beale, Andrew Broderick, Daniel MacIvor, Erica Peck, Ken James Stewart, Amy Wallis and Kevin Yee.

As previously announced, Kyle Blair, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Cynthia Dale, Deborah Hay, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Tom Rooney and Mike Shara are also key players in the 2012 season.

Aaron Krohn to play Henry V

After making a memorable Stratford debut as Lenny in The Homecoming, Aaron Krohn will return in 2012 to play the title role in Henry V, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff. Mr. Krohn’s New York credits include The Farnsworth Invention, also directed by Mr. McAnuff, the Tom Stoppard works The Invention of Love and The Coast of Utopia and Shakespeare’s Henry IV. He was also a member of the ensemble in the Broadway production of Julius Caesar featuring Denzel Washington and Colm Feore. Mr. Krohn is well known for his voice acting in a number of popular anime productions, most notably Neon Genesis Evangelion.

As previously announced, Ben Carlson has been cast as Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Lucy Peacock as the Hostess and Tom Rooney as Pistol.

Geraint Wyn Davies to play Cymbeline

Geraint Wyn Davies, featured this year as Falstaff and King Arthur, will return for the 60th season to play the title role in Cymbeline, directed by General Director Antoni Cimolino. In eight seasons at Stratford, Mr. Wyn Davies 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, Henry V and Pericles, 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.

Ian Lake will mark his fifth season with the Festival playing Arviragus in Cymbeline. This season Mr. Lake was seen as Joey in The Homecoming and the Second Officer in Twelfth Night. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, Mr. Lake has played a number of key roles at Stratford, including Silvius in As You Like It, Florizel in The Winter’s Tale, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Cara Ricketts marks her fourth season at Stratford playing Imogen in Cymbeline. This season Ms Ricketts was seen as Ruth in The Homecoming and Maria in Twelfth Night. Her other Stratford credits include Perdita in The Winter’s Tale, Portia in Julius Caesar and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms Ricketts has worked extensively in Toronto theatre as well as in film and TV.

After making his Stratford debut in 2011, Birmingham Conservatory member E.B. Smith will return to play Guiderius in Cymbeline. This season he played the Marquess of Dorset in Richard III and Alarbus in Titus Andronicus. Mr. Smith’s credits include Seyton in Macbeth and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, as well as work at the Cleveland Play House and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

John Vickery, seen in the title role of Titus Andronicus this season, will play Belarius in Cymbeline. This year he also played the Camp Proprietor and the Officer in Mr. Cimolino’s production of The Grapes of Wrath. Returning for his fifth season at Stratford, Mr. Vickery has appeared as Antonio in The Tempest, the Duke in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Ross in Macbeth, Comte de Guiche in Cyrano, Victor in Zastrozzi, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Lucius Septimius in Caesar and Cleopatra. His Broadway credits include the original Scar in The Lion King, The Real Thing, The Sisters Rosensweig and Macbeth.

As previously announced, Tom McCamus will play Iachimo in Cymbeline, in addition to Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker. Mike Shara will play Cloten, as well as Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker.

Yanna McIntosh to play Elektra

Yanna McIntosh will return for her eighth season to take on the title role in Elektra, directed by Thomas Moschopoulos, and to play the Queen in Cymbeline. This season she was seen as Queen Elizabeth in Richard III and Grace in The Little Years. Other Stratford credits include Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Lady Macbeth, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helen in The Trojan Women and Mme. Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. Ms McIntosh is a Dora and Gemini Award-winning actor, whose Toronto credits include Condoleeza Rice in Stuff Happens and the title roles in Mary Stuart, Hedda Gabler, and Belle.

Peter Hutt will play the Old Man in Elektra, after a season in which he was featured as Oronte in The Misanthrope and Muley and the Contractor in The Grapes of Wrath. In 12 seasons at Stratford, Mr. Hutt has been seen in such roles as Alonzo and Calilban in The Tempest, Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Macduff in Macbeth, William Shakespeare in Elizabeth Rex and Marcus Andronicus in Titus Andronicus.

The role of Chrysothemis in Elektra will be played by Laura Condlln and the role of Orestes will be played by Ian Lake. As previously announced, the role of Clytemestra will be played by Seana McKenna.


John Beale, Daniel MacIvor take on The Best Brothers

Daniel MacIvor’s new two-hander, The Best Brothers, will feature the playwright as Hamilton and John Beale as Kyle. The production will be directed by Dean Gabourie. Mr. Beale, who played Nurk in the world première of Mr. MacIvor’s play Bingo, comes to Stratford from his home base in Halifax, where his recent credits include Peggy and Manuel in The Peggy Show, Owen in Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, Wendell in Home, Swinburne in Brightest Red to Blue and Reverend John Hale in The Crucible, for which he received a Merrit Award.

Mr. MacIvor joins the Festival acting company for the first time in 2012. One of Canada’s leading playwrights, Mr. MacIvor is a recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, and has won several awards for his plays and films. He has written and performed in a number of solo shows, including House, Here Lies Henry, Monster and Cul de Sac. Most recently he directed the première of his play Bingo! for Forerunner Theatre in Halifax.

Key roles cast for The Matchmaker

Laura Condlln will return for her 11th season to play Irene Molloy in The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham. Ms Condlln, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, is currently playing Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor and also appeared in Richard III. Other highlights of her Stratford career include Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan, Polly in King of Thieves and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Geraint Wyn Davies will play Malachi Stack, in addition to the title role in Cymbeline.

Skye Brandon will return for his fourth season to play Ambrose Kemper in The Matchmaker. Mr. Brandon made his Stratford debut in 2009, when, as a member of the Birmingham Conservatory, he played Haggis and the Puppet Assistant in Bartholomew Fair, and Cinna in Julius Caesar. In 2010 he was seen as Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Dennis in As You Like It. This season he played the Duke of Norfolk in Richard III and Bassianus in Titus Andronicus.

Returning for a fourth season at Stratford, Andrea Runge will play Minnie Fay. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, Ms. Runge has taken on a number of key roles at the Festival, including Viola in Twelfth Night and Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Rosalind in As You Like It and Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Cara Ricketts will play Ermengarde, in addition to her role as Imogen in Cymbeline.

As previously announced, Tom McCamus will play Horace Vandergelder, Seana McKenna will play Dolly Levi and Mike Shara will play Cornelius Hackl.

Robin Hutton, Randy Hughson join cast of Wanderlust

Robin Hutton will return to the Festival for her fourth season to play the leading role of Louise in the new musical Wanderlust, opposite Tom Rooney’s Robert Service (as previously announced). The production will be directed by Morris Panych. Ms Hutton’s Stratford credits include Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!, Cinderella’s Stepmother in Into the Woods, and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof.

Randy Hughson will celebrate his fifth season at Stratford playing Mr. McGee in Wanderlust. He was seen this season as Uncle John in The Grapes of Wrath and the Host of the Garter Inn in The Merry Wives of Windsor. His other Stratford credits include Antigonus and Time in The Winter’s Tale, Corin in As You Like It and Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

As previously announced, Lucy Peacock will play Mrs. Munsch.

Three principals cast for Much Ado About Nothing

Richard Binsley, a company member in the 1980s, will return for the 60th season to play Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Christopher Newton. Mr. Binsley has worked at theatres across Canada and played Harry in both the Broadway and Toronto productions of Mamma Mia!. His recent stage credits include Bill in Having Hope at Home and Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie at the Globe Theatre, La Fontaine in Molière and Reinhard Wilke in Democracy at Tarragon Theatre.

Bethany Jillard will return for her third season to play Hero in Much Ado About Nothing. After making her Stratford debut playing Cécile Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons in 2010, Ms Jillard was seen this season as Lady Anne in Richard III and Young Kate and Tanya in The Little Years. Her other credits include Miss Julie in After Miss Julie at the MTC Warehouse, My Name is Rachel Corrie at Theatre PANIK and Brooke in How It Works at Tarragon Theatre.

Gareth Potter will play Don John, after taking on the title role in Hosanna and the Earl of Richmond in Richard III this year. His eight seasons at Stratford have included such roles as Ferdinand in The Tempest, Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Malcolm in Macbeth, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Nathaniel in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Edgar in King Lear, Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice, Pierrot in Don Juan and Cromwell in Henry VIII. Mr. Potter is a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory.

Birmingham Conservatory member Tyrone Savage will return to play Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. Mr. Savage made his Stratford debut this season playing Floyd in The Grapes of Wrath. His film and TV credits include Wind at My Back, Instant Star, American Pie: Beta House, Stoked and Goosebumps.
As previously announced, Ben Carlson will play Benedick and Deborah Hay will play Beatrice. The production will also feature James Blendick as Leonato and Juan Chioran as Don Pedro.

Full cast named for Charlie Brown

Stephen Patterson will return for his third season to play Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore. Seen this season in Jesus Christ Superstar and Camelot, Mr. Patterson made his Stratford debut in 2010 in As You Like It. Mr. Patterson played Marius in Les Misérables on Broadway and the U.S. national tour. His other credits include Laurie in Little Women (first U.S. national tour), Bobby Strong in Urinetown for Canadian Stage, Bob in White Christmas for the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Neptune Theatre, Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for Drayton and the North American Tour, and, also for Drayton, Che in Evita, Chris in Miss Saigon, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jeff in Brigadoon.

The role of Lucy will be played by Erica Peck. A vocal student of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ms Peck played Mary Maguire in the Really Useful Group/Mirvish production of The Boys in the Photograph. Her other recent credits include Scaramouche in the Mirvish production of We Will Rock You, Penny Pingleton in the C.F.T. production of Hairspray, and Julia in The Wedding Singer at Stage West.
Ken James Stewart will take on the title role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Mr. Stewart comes to Stratford from the Shaw Festival, where he has spent five seasons playing such roles as Mr. Pinsky in The President, Hegarty in Drama at Inish – A Comedy, the Student in One Touch of Venus and Jake in Serious Money.

Andrew Broderick will take on the role of Schroeder. A finalist in the second season of Canadian Idol, Mr. Broderick has played Gilbert in Hairspray, for both Rainbow Stage and the Charlottetown Festival. His other credits include Motown Gold at Stage West, The Producers at Stage West Calgary and Dreamgirls at The Grand Theatre.

Amy Wallis will make her Stratford debut as Sally. Twice nominated for Jessie Richardson Awards, Ms Wallis was seen most recently at Drayton, playing Willie Cagney in Cagney! and the Snow Fairy in Robin Hood. She played the title role in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival from 2006 to 2009, and during that same period played Belle in Beauty at the Beast at the Arts Club Theatre Festival on the country’s other coast.

Kevin Yee, currently on Broadway in Mary Poppins, will play Linus. His other credits include the Chicago and second national touring productions of Wicked, the Canadian production of Mamma Mia!, and Livent’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Key roles cast for The Pirates of Penzance and 42nd Street

Sean Arbuckle will play the Pirate King in the 2012 production of The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny. Seen this season as William Catesby in Richard III and Saturninus in Titus Andronicus, Mr. Arbuckle played Clifford Bradshaw in the 2008 production of Cabaret. Mr. Arbuckle’s credits in 10 seasons at Stratford include Tuzenbach in Three Sisters, Camillo in The Winter’s Tale, Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Dazzle in London Assurance and Théramène in Phèdre. He has performed extensively in New York, both on and off-Broadway, and has a number of film and TV credits to his name, including Anything But Love, Law & Order and Sex and the City.

Amy Wallis will play the leading role of Mabel Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, in addition to playing Sally in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

The production will also feature Steve Ross as the Sergeant of Police. Seen this year as John Rugby in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Noah in The Grapes of Wrath and Clitandre in The Misanthrope, Mr. Ross is also well remembered by audiences for his musical performances in Kiss Me, Kate, Evita, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha and Camelot. His other credits over eight seasons at Stratford include Ragueneau in Cyrano de Bergerac, Dromio of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors and Mr. Gilmer in To Kill a Mockingbird.
As previously announced, Kyle Blair will play Frederic.

Sean Arbuckle has also been cast as Julian Marsh in 42nd Street. He will be joined by Noami Costain, who will play Anytime Annie. Ms Costain is returning for her seventh season, having appeared in Kiss Me, Kate, Evita, Cabaret, My One and Only, Oklahoma!, Don Juan, Oliver!, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gigi, The Threepenny Opera and My Fair Lady.

As previously announced, Kyle Blair will play Billy Lawlor and Cynthia Dale will play Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street.

Funding for the 2012 season has been provided by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.


The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs until November 6, featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Homecoming.


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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Backstage at Camelot

Ever want to know who does the heavy lifting backstage in a repertory company? Check out my interview with the stage crew of Camelot at StartStratford.com here.

Festival launches second annual Stratford Challenge

[Press release]  October 12, 2011… Competition offers high-school students a chance to win $10,000 grand prize out of $20,000 purse

The Festival is issuing the Stratford Challenge to all Canadian high-school students, calling on them to recreate the magic of Shakespeare for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 out of a total purse of $20,000. After launching last year, the Stratford Challenge has grown, with the Writing Challenge now open to all high-school students across Canada, and a new competition called the Original Works Challenge.

“We are building on last year’s great success by expanding the writing competition to a national level, while also adding a competition for student-written works, which will be national as well,” says donor Felice Sabatino, who spearheaded the Challenge. “With Shakespeare as an imperative cultural foundation for inspiration and innovation, I hope this great initiative will also be a catalyst for our youth’s creative potential, encouraging new, unique and dynamic works.”

“The Stratford Challenge was pure magic last season. The quality of the work submitted and the enthusiasm of the students was inspiring. We are very proud to hold this program for a second year, and delighted that it has grown in scope,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Felice is a true believer in the importance of arts education. His generosity has enabled the Festival to challenge the imagination of students all across Canada in this truly innovative way.”

“The Festival is committed to promoting the arts and classical theatre to young people and it is a goal of ours to have all students in Ontario visit the Festival at least once during their educational careers,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “The Stratford Challenge is another wonderfully creative initiative that helps us to inspire youth. We thank Felice for initiating the program and look forward to seeing the innovative work submitted by students this year.”

The Stratford Challenge has three components for 2012: the Shakespeare Challenge, the Writing Challenge and the new Original Works Challenge.

The Shakespeare Challenge

The 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 on April 23 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.

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 $3,000 and third place $2,000. The fourth and fifth place groups will receive $1,000. Both fourth and fifth-placing groups will also receive a class set of tickets and transportation to a Festival show in 2012.

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

The Writing Challenge

Now being offered to all Canadian high-school students, the Writing Challenge asks young people to write up to 500 words on the topic “Shakespeare and his relevance in the 21st century.” Entries are to be emailed to educate@stratfordshakespearefestival.com.

The Writing Challenge will be adjudicated by a separate panel of literary experts. The top prize for the writing challenge is $1,000 and 10 tickets to a Festival show and post show chat in 2012. The prize will be awarded in person at the Challenge Finals on April 23 in Stratford.

Applicants may choose their own style and form for their written submission. For further details, please check the Stratford Challenge webpage at www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com/challenge.

New! Original Works Challenge

This competition will challenge students from across Canada to write an original one act play inspired by a Shakespeare play. Each Original Work submission must be the sole creation of a single playwright. The original work must be a reading length of 20 to 30 minutes. Each original work must be submitted with a cover letter that contains a brief synopsis of the play and includes an account of the correlation between your piece and its classical counterpart. The winner of this competition will receive $2,000 and the opportunity to hear professional actors read their work on April 23.

The entry deadline for all three challenges is midnight on February 29, 2012.

“This challenge sets the highest standards of excellence by providing the rare opportunity to compete on the best stage in the world – Stratford,” says Mr. Sabatino. “This initiative is a dream incubator for future talent and cultural dynamism amongst our most precious resource – our youth.”

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.

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

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs until November 6, featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Homecoming.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

2012 Season Visitor's Guide

According to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Twitter feed, the 2012 Visitor's Guides are in the mail. Visit http://www.stratfordfestivl.ca/ to order yours, or follow them on Twitter (StratFest). The new 2012 season website should be up shortly after the 2011 season closes, after November 6th.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Broadway beckons: Jesus Christ Superstar to open at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 22, 2012


Paul Nolan in the title role.
Photo by David Hou.

[Press Release]
October 4, 2011… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to announce that its production of Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, will commence a Broadway run this spring.

The New York production of Jesus Christ Superstar will open at the Neil Simon Theatre on Thursday, March 22, 2012, with previews beginning Thursday, March 1.

Dodger Properties and the Really Useful Group will present the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

“I have wanted to do Jesus Christ Superstar for quite a long time,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “I’m extremely pleased to be able to stage the piece with the company of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I am even more pleased to be able to go with them back to La Jolla Playhouse, which I still consider an important home. We will all be very excited to go from there on to New York.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Festival,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Des’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar has delighted audiences here all season long. Now, as it heads for Broadway by way of La Jolla, it will raise our international profile and entice new audiences to come and experience more of our work in Stratford.”

The Festival’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar opened in Stratford on June 3 and will run through November 6. Following that, it will play La Jolla Playhouse from November 18 to December 31.

The Toronto Star called Jesus Christ Superstar “the best show you’ll see this year,” while The Globe and Mail said, “This production is an absolute miracle.”

“A sparkly production literally pulsing with life,” wrote the Toronto Sun; and Variety enthused, “McAnuff has managed to come up with a vision that is faithful to the original but manages to make it seem fresh to an audience in 2011.”

A number of Stratford productions have gone on to New York over the years, including 2002’s King Lear, with Christopher Plummer in the title role; 1998’s The Miser and Much Ado About Nothing; 1996’s Barrymore; 1994’s The Molière Comedies; 1983’s The Mikado; and 1956’s Tamburlaine the Great. The 2009 production of The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and featuring Brian Bedford, inspired a Broadway run this year, as did the 1994 production of Timon of Athens, directed by Michael Langham with Mr. Bedford in the title role.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season continues until November 6, featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Homecoming.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Casting News

Casting begins for Festival’s 60th season

September 14, 2011… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has begun to confirm casting for its 60th season and is pleased to announce the return of the following actors: Kyle Blair, James Blendick, Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Cynthia Dale, Deborah Hay, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Tom Rooney and Mike Shara.

“I am delighted to welcome all these superbly talented performers back to our stages,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “A theatre is defined by its artists, above all else, and I take great pride in knowing that we will be embarking on our milestone 60th season with an acting ensemble to rival any in the world.”

 “This casting announcement is just a taste of what is to come for the Festival in 2012,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “With key players like these leading our ensemble, the 60th will be a season to remember.”

Kyle Blair
 Kyle Blair takes musical leads in Pirates and 42nd Street

Kyle Blair will play the leading roles of Billy Lawlor in the tap spectacular 42nd Street and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance. Mr. Blair was last seen at the Festival in 2007, playing Will Parker in Oklahoma! and Achmed in My One and Only. In seven seasons at Stratford, Mr. Blair’s memorable musical credits include Jack in Into the Woods, Professor Hamilton Steeves in South Pacific, Ambrose Kemper in Hello, Dolly! and Noah Claypole in Oliver!

Blendick, Carlson, Chioran return for a season of Shakespeare

James Blendick
James Blendick will mark his 29th season at the Festival, playing the principal role of Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing and the Archbishop of Canterbury in Henry V. Mr. Blendick delighted audiences this season as Master Robert Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mr. Blendick has been a stalwart of the Festival stage, playing significant roles in both Shakespearean and modern classics, including Doctor Chebutykin in Three Sisters, Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1, Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Claudius in Hamlet and Matthew Brady in Inherit the Wind.
Ben Carlson

Ben Carlson, currently playing Feste in Twelfth Night and Alceste in The Misanthrope, will celebrate his fifth season at Stratford playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Fluellen in Henry V. Among the Festival’s finest young classical actors, Mr. Carlson has taken on an impressive list of key roles, including 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.

Juan Chioran
 Juan Chioran will return for his 13th season to play Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing and Montjoy in Henry V. An award-winning stage and television actor, Mr. Chioran this season played Philinte in The Misanthrope and Fabian in Twelfth Night. He is admired by audiences for his musical and classical roles, both comic and dramatic, including last season’s Juan Perón in Evita and Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate, as well as Solyony in Three Sisters, Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well, Jaques in As You Like It and the title role in Man of La Mancha.

Cynthia Dale returns in 42nd Street; Deborah Hay returns to play Beatrice

Cynthia Dale in Anything Goes
Cynthia Dale’s eagerly anticipated return to the Stratford stage will see her take on the role of Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street. When last at Stratford, in 2007, Ms Dale starred in another tap musical, beautifully portraying Edythe Herbert in My One and Only. Ms Dale’s musical credits at the Festival also include leading roles in The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Man of La Mancha, Camelot and Anything Goes. 2012 will mark Ms Dale’s 11th season with the Festival.



Deborah Hay
Deborah Hay, most recently seen in leading roles at the Shaw Festival, will return for her fourth season at Stratford to play Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Alice in Henry V. A member of the Birmingham Conservatory in 1999, Ms Hay played such roles as Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew and Katharine in Love’s Labour’s Lost in Stratford. This season at Shaw, Ms Hay is playing Eliza Doolittle in their hit production of My Fair Lady, as well as Hesione Hushabye in Heartbreak House. Her portrayal of Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday was proclaimed as a standout at the Shaw in 2010.
Seana McKenna and Tom McCamus join forces in a lighter love affair

Tom McCamus
After his moving portrayal of Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath and his masterful turn as Master Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Tom McCamus will play the leading roles of Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker and Iachimo in Cymbeline. Last season, Mr. McCamus delighted audiences in the deliciously evil roles of Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons. In 11 seasons at Stratford, he has played a vast number of leading roles in such productions as Three Sisters, Bartholomew Fair, An Ideal Husband, The Threepenny Opera, Camelot, Waiting for Godot and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Seana McKenna
After her triumphant turn as Richard III, Seana McKenna will make a welcome return to comedy, playing Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker. Stratford audiences will remember Ms McKenna’s lighter side from such productions as Private Lives, Present Laughter, Noises Off and London Assurance – and will be delighted to see her reunited with Mr. McCamus after their sizzling performances in Dangerous Liaisons. Adding to her acclaimed credits in classical tragedy, Ms McKenna will also play Clytemestra in the 2012 production of Elektra, having given moving portrayals of Medea, Andromache and Phèdre at the Festival, all of which were extremely highly regarded.

Tom Rooney and Lucy Peacock together again in Wanderlust.

Lucy Peacock
Celebrating her 25th season and 60th production with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Lucy Peacock will play the Hostess in Henry V and Mrs. Munsch in the new musical Wanderlust. Ms Peacock combined musical theatre and Shakespeare this season as well, playing Morgan le Fey in Camelot and the delightfully scheming Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, with Tom Rooney as her jealous husband. Last season the two actors appeared together in the moving production of For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again and in As You Like It, in which Ms Peacock played a memorable Audrey. In 2012 Ms Peacock and Mr. Rooney will again appear together.

Tom Rooney
Tom Rooney will take on the leading role of Robert Service in Wanderlust, the new musical commissioned from Morris Panych and composer Marek Norman. He will also play Pistol in Henry V. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Rooney has fast become a favourite on the Festival stage, most recently 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.

Mike Shara to play Cornelius in The Matchmaker
Mike Shara

After making an impressive Shakespearean debut in 2010 as Oliver in As You Like It and the Young Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale, Mike Shara portrayed Orsino in this season’s Twelfth Night, and will return in 2012 to play Cloten in Cymbeline. Mr. Shara will also play the leading role of Cornelius in The Matchmaker. His Stratford credits also include an insightful portrayal of Teddy in this season’s acclaimed production of The Homecoming and the deliciously daft Algernon Moncrieff in the 2008 production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Casting continues for the 2012 season.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs until November 6, featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, Camelot, Twelfth Night, The Misanthrope, The Grapes of Wrath, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Homecoming, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, The Little Years and Hosanna.

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