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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Stratford Festival kicks off 65th season with Guys and Dolls

Blythe Wilson (centre) as Miss Adelaide with members of the company in Guys and Dolls.
Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.
MEDIA RELEASE  April 17, 2017… You have never seen Guys and Dolls like this before! Following a long string of hit musicals at the Festival, Canada’s top director-choreographer Donna Feore thrills audiences once again with her stunning production of Guys and Dolls, filled with original choreography showcased in some of the most spectacular production numbers ever mounted on a Stratford stage. Rediscover this beloved musical, on stage now at the Festival Theatre.

Guys and Dolls is without question one of the finest pieces of musical theatre ever created,” says Ms Feore. “Branded a classic almost the instant it premièred, Guys and Dolls defies expectations. The very fact that crapshooters have a ballet lets us know that traditional ideas will be turned on their heads. The ‘dolls’ of the title are independent, employed and empowered. Guys and Dolls offers us a remarkably balanced view of the romantic transactions of this fabled Broadway bunch and it does it with great joy and precision. There is nothing extra or out of place. Every word, every note, every step earns its keep.”

Guys and Dolls is known as the perfect musical comedy and there is no more perfect director to bring it to life than Donna Feore,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “It’s a show with special meaning to her – and to us – because it’s the show that launched her Stratford career as a dancer in our 1990 production. Since then, she has become a true master of our Festival stage, exciting audiences with hit after hit, and this production is no exception. She and her extraordinary group of artists are about to blow the roof off the Festival.”

The cast boasts 33 of the country’s most gifted performers, led by Sean Arbuckle as Nathan Detroit, Evan Buliung as Sky Masterson, Alexis Gordon as Sarah Brown and Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide, with Lisa Horner as General Matilda B. Cartwright, Laurie Murdoch as Arvide Abernathy and Steve Ross as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

The production features, for the first time in 25 years, Michael Starobin’s vibrant orchestrations and Mark Hummel’s slick dance arrangements, originally created for the 1992 Broadway production. The glorious score, including “Luck Be a Lady,” “A Bushel and a Peck” and the rousing “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” is brought to life by Music Director Laura Burton and a live 19-piece orchestra.

The creative team also includes Set Designer Michael Gianfrancesco, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle and Fight Director John Stead.

Guys and Dolls officially opens on Tuesday, May 30, and runs until October 29.

Guys and Dolls is a musical fable of Broadway, based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, by Riki Turofsky & Charles Petersen and by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Guys and Dolls is co-sponsored by RBC and Union Gas.

Support for the 2017 season of the Festival Theatre is generously provided by Daniel Bernstein & Claire Foerster.

Guys and Dolls Forum highlights

The Forum is a series of events, such as exclusive showcases, guest speakers, special meals, music and family fun, that offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the ideas and issues raised by the 2017 playbill. Themes related to Guys and Dolls will be explored through several Forum events, including:

·         Song and Dance: Guys and Dolls
June 11 – September 30
10:30 a.m. to noon
Find out what it’s like to be in a musical at the Stratford Festival as company members teach you a song and dance from Guys and Dolls.

·         Runyon on Broadway
Thursday, June 22
11 a.m. to noon
Robert Cushman investigates the life, world and works of Damon Runyon, the great short-story writer and reporter whose gangster characters and their fantastic lingo inspired the fabulous world of Guys and Dolls. Featuring extracts from the stories, including one of the funniest and most touching of them all, “The Lily of St. Pierre.”

The Stratford Festival’s 2017 season runs until October 29, featuring Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, Guys and Dolls, HMS Pinafore, Treasure Island, The School for Scandal, The Changeling, Bakkhai, Tartuffe, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Komagata Maru Incident, The Virgin Trial and The Breathing Hole. For tickets and more information, visit stratfordfestival.ca or call 1.800.567.1600.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Eric Abel
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Gabriel Antonacci
Nathan Detroit.................................................. Sean Arbuckle
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Matthew Armet
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Alex Black
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Devon Michael Brown
Sky Masterson................................................... Evan Buliung
Swing................................................................ Stephen Cota
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Colton Curtis
Big Jule.............................................................. Beau Dixon
Sarah Brown...................................................... Alexis Gordon
Mimi, Ensemble................................................. Alexandra Herzog
General Matilda B. Cartwright......................... Lisa Horner
Carmen, Hot Box Dancer, Ensemble................ Bonnie Jordan
Lt. Brannigan, Joey Biltmore............................ John Kirkpatrick
Hot Box Dancer, Ensemble............................... Heather Kosik
Hot Box Dancer, Ensemble............................... Bethany Kovarik
Hot Box Dancer, Ensemble............................... Krista Leis
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Jordan Mah
Swing................................................................ Lily McEvenue
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Chad McFadden
Arvide Abernathy............................................. Laurie Murdoch
Rusty Charlie..................................................... Marcus Nance
Gambler, Ensemble........................................... Nicholas Nesbitt
Calvin, Gambler, Ensemble............................... Trevor Patt
Agatha............................................................... Glynis Ranney
Angie the Ox, Ensemble................................... Sayer Roberts
Nicely-Nicely Johnson...................................... Steve Ross
Harry the Horse................................................. Brad Rudy
Martha, Ensemble.............................................. Cynthia Smithers
Hot Box Dancer, Ensemble............................... Natasha Strilchuk
Benny Southstreet............................................. Mark Uhre
Miss Adelaide................................................... Blythe Wilson

Artistic Credits

Director/Choreographer..................................... Donna Feore
Music Director................................................... Laura Burton
Set Designer...................................................... Michael Gianfrancesco
Costume Designer............................................. Dana Osborne
Lighting Designer.............................................. Michael Walton
Sound Designer................................................. Peter McBoyle
Fight Director.................................................... John Stead
Orchestrations................................................... Michael Starobin
Dance Arrangements......................................... Mark Hummel
Producer............................................................ David Auster
Casting Director................................................ Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director................................ Jason Miller
Assistant Director.............................................. Ann Baggley
Associate Choreographer.................................. Stephen Cota
Associate Sound Designer................................ William Fallon
Assistant Set Designer...................................... Holly Meyer-Dymny
Assistant Costume Designer............................. Alison Marshall
Assistant Lighting Designers............................ Bryan Kenney, Angeline St. Amour
Associate Fight Director................................... Anita Nittoly
Stage Manager................................................... The. John Gray
Assistant Stage Managers................................. Krista Blackwood, Angela Marshall,
                                                                           Melissa Rood
Production Assistant......................................... Steven Smits
Production Stage Manager................................ Cynthia Toushan
Technical Director............................................. Jeff Scollon

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

FIRST LOOK:
Blythe Wilson (centre) as Miss Adelaide with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Promotional photography for Guys and Dolls:

RELATED VIDEOS:

Sneak peek: Guys and Dolls rehearsal

Meet Nathan Detroit:

Meet Sarah Brown:

Meet Miss Adelaide:

Meet Nicely-Nicely Johnson:

Ann Swerdfager
Publicity Director

Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street PO Box 520 Stratford ON | N5A 6V2
519.271.4040 x2297
M: 519.301.3569

Box Office: Toll Free 1.800.567.1600 Local 519.273.1600

2017 Season | April through October
Twelfth Night | Romeo and Juliet | Timon of Athens | Guys and Dolls | HMS Pinafore
Treasure Island | The School for Scandal | The Changeling | Bakkhai | Tartuffe
The Madwoman of Chaillot | The Komagata Maru Incident | The Virgin Trial | The Breathing Hole


Book Review: Waking Gods

Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel

Brace for impact. Neuvel’s first book, Sleeping Giants, follows the reports, diary-entries and interviews surrounding the discovery and subsequent assembly of enormous artifacts that form a giant – and distinctly inhuman – robot.  Dubbed Themis, after an ancient but benevolent Titaness, she poses huge questions – were did she come from? Who put her there? What is she meant for? Neuvel puts these questions are through the filters of science, religion, philosophy and perhaps deadliest of all - politics. 

Sleeping Giants ends on a cliffhanger, (SPOILER) with the scientist in charge of Themis suddenly back from the dead, and its sequel, Waking Gods, picks up from there at breakneck speed.  The stakes are much, much higher. We find out (vaguely) where Themis came from.  We find out – explosively – that she is not the only giant, glowing, inhuman robot.  Some of the questions of the first novel are answered, and not in ways we might like or expect.  Other, even more massive questions grow out of those answers.

One would expect that Neuvel’s books are action-thrillers, focusing solely on the giant robots in the room, but therein lies the brilliance of Neuvel’s story-telling: the suspense is built through the very human reactions to the robots’ presence. The action is described by the human characters experiencing it. We the readers are not allowed the comfort of the “all seeing eye”, watching everything unfold at a safe distance; the story-telling is completely immersive, which makes it exhilarating to say the least. It will challenge your beliefs and what you think you might know. It will challenge your sense of ethics and what you feel is right and wrong. It will both haunt and excite you as a result.

Sleeping Giants was long-listed for Canada Reads in 2017, and was a sleeper hit of last year. Fasten your seatbelts folks, because Waking Giants is a ride like no other.


Reserve Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods at http://spl.bibliocommons.com

Monday, 20 March 2017

Book Review: Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life

Image result for let it go walsh
Cover Art
Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life
Peter Walsh
Rodale Books, 2017

It’s SPRING!  Happy lambs bouncing, robins and chickadees singing, tulips and hyacinths blooming, yard sale signs replicating at the speed of light…

Wait, what?

If it’s Spring, it’s yard sale season. Which means decluttering, which means (most likely) facing an unwieldly amount of stuff in one’s basement, garage, spare rooms and junk drawers that just needs to GO.  And if the KonMari* method seems too forbidding then pick up Peter Walsh’s newest book Let It Go to help get the decluttering/downsizing purge started. 

A follow-up to his previous book, the best-selling It’s All Too Much, Walsh focuses on overcoming those obstacles that keep us from getting rid of the stuff in our lives – the difficulties of not enough time, or feelings of loss and change, or family dynamics (oy).  He instead suggests reframing this process as fulfilling, a celebration, a reflective time of renewal. Put like that, even downsizing a beloved and mourned family member’s possessions can feel rewarding, not daunting. Life isn’t about stuff, he says, but there is room for treasure – it just can’t all be treasure, and it’s ok to let objects go.

What makes Walsh’s book a little different is that he really emphasizes the introspective, mindful examination of why we become so attached to our things, and challenges us to think about who we might be without it all. It isn’t as scary as it sounds, and Walsh includes helpful exercises to assist in these self-scrutinies. He notes, with multiple examples from real life that those who follow this process - once the emotional element is examined – feel their lives are freer and their minds at peace. “It’s human nature for big changes [like downsizing and decluttering] to bring conflicted feelings,” Walsh writes. But it’s also ok to let go of “the clutter that blocks doors to somewhere better, the obstacles that hold you back… Let yourself go forward to somewhere better.”
Bring on that yard sale… and find your copy of Let It Go by Peter Walsh. 

*KonMari method as described in Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic in Tidying Up.

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