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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.


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.


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 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

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

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:, 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.


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 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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