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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

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.


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.


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 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


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!

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