What’s Happening at The Stratford Festival in 2017?

Stratford Festival 

Musicals are my favourites, so I’m excited about Blythe Wilson and Alexis Gordon in Guys and Dolls, on the Festival stage in 2017.  I am also thrilled about Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Mark Uhre, both incomparable triple threats, in Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.  Romeo and Juliet is always popular:  It’s the show I’ve seen most often in Stratford, and I’m sure Sara Farb will be an amazing Juliet.



Glittering cast set for Shakespeare’s rollicking Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night ǀ By William Shakespeare ǀ Directed by Martha Henry ǀ Opens May 29
Production support is generously provided by Jane Petersen Burfield & family,
by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine and by Jack Whiteside
Shakespeare’s comedy features Sarah Afful and Michael Blake as the shipwrecked twins, Viola and Sebastian, Rod Beattie as Malvolio, Brent Carver as Feste, Lucy Peacock as Maria, Geraint Wyn Davies as Sir Toby Belch and Tom Rooney as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. E.B. Smith will opine, “If music be the food of love, play on” as his Orsino contemplates the reclusive Olivia, played by Shannon Taylor. Also in the cast are Maev Beaty, Mac Fyfe, Gordon S. Miller, Mercedes Morris, Monice Peter, Anusree Roy, Stephen Russell, Johnathan Sousa, Emilio Vieira and Brigit Wilson.

Alexis Gordon and Blythe Wilson play a couple of dolls; Their guys are Evan Buliung and Sean Arbuckle
Guys and Dolls: A musical fable of Broadway, based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon ǀ Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser ǀ Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore ǀ Musical Director Laura Burton ǀ Opens May 30
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, by Riki Turofsky & Charles Petersen and by Catherine & David Wilkes
This production is co-sponsored by RBC and Union Gas
Hailed as the perfect show, Guys and Dolls features four of musical theatre’s most coveted roles.  Good old reliable Nathan (Detroit) will be played by Sean Arbuckle, and Miss Adelaide, the “average unmarried female,” by Blythe Wilson. Evan Buliung, as Sky Masterson, will be winging it to Havana with Alexis Gordon’s Sarah Brown, hoping to make her go “ding, dong, ding, dong, ding.”  They’ll be joined by Lisa Horner as General Matilda B. Cartwright, Laurie Murdoch as Arvide Abernathy, and Steve Ross as Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Also in the cast are Eric Abel, Gabriel Antonacci, Matthew Armet, Alex Black, Devon Michael Brown, Stephen Cota, Colton Curtis, Beau Dixon, Alexandra Herzog, Bonnie Jordan, John Kirkpatrick, Heather Kosik, Bethany Kovarik, Krista Leis, Jordan Mah, Lily McEvenue, Chad McFadden, Marcus Nance, Nicholas Nesbitt, Trevor Patt, Glynis Ranney, Sayer Roberts, Brad Rudy, Cynthia Smithers, Natasha Strilchuk and Mark Uhre.

Shakespeare’s woeful love story features Sara Farb as Juliet and Antoine Yared as her Romeo
Romeo and Juliet ǀ By William Shakespeare ǀ Directed by Scott Wentworth ǀ Opens June 1
Production support is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert
Two teenagers – Antoine Yared’s Romeo and Sara Farb’s Juliet – fall headlong in love, defying the long-standing hatred between their families. Shakespeare’s beloved tale of star-crossed lovers also features Seana McKenna as the Nurse, with Marion Adler as Lady Capulet, Wayne Best as Friar Laurence, Evan Buliung as Mercutio and Randy Hughson as Capulet.  Also in the cast are Eric Abel, Thomas Mitchell Barnet, Alex Black, Miali Buscemi, Juan Chioran, Sarah Dodd, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Kim Horsman, John Kirkpatrick, Krista Leis, Jamie Mac, Katelyn McCulloch, Chad McFadden, Natasha Strilchuk and Gordon Patrick White.

Tom Rooney to play Tartuffe in Molière’s stinging comedy
Tartuffe ǀ By Molière ǀ Translated by Ranjit Bolt ǀ Directed by Chris Abraham ǀ Opens August 17
Production support is generously provided by Dr. Dennis & Dorothea Hacker, by the Harkins/Manning families in memory of Jim & Susan Harkins, by Bob & Martie Sachs and by Dr. Louis & Mrs. Mary Jane Zako in celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary
After this season’s hilarious run of The Hypochondriac, Molière’s smackdown of medical charlatans, the Festival will present his famous satire of religious hypocrisy, Tartuffe. Donning the hair shirt to play the title role is Tom Rooney.  The cast also features Graham Abbey as Orgon, Maev Beaty as Elmire, Michael Blake as Cleante, Rosemary Dunsmore as Mme Pernelle and Anusree Roy as Dorine.  Also in the cast are Sarah Afful, Sean Arbuckle, Rod Beattie, Stephen Cota, Alexis Gordon, Gordon S. Miller, Mercedes Morris, Monice Peter, Stephen Russell, E.B. Smith, Johnathan Sousa, Shannon Taylor, Emilio Vieira, Blythe Wilson and Brigit Wilson.



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Thomas Mitchell Barnet and Juan Chioran lead the cast of the classic pirate adventure Treasure Island
Schulich Children’s Plays presents Treasure Island ǀ By Robert Louis Stevenson ǀ
A World Première of a new adaptation by Nicolas Billon
Directed by Mitchell Cushman ǀ Opens June 3
Thomas Mitchell Barnet plays Jim Hawkins, a young teen who embarks on a high-seas adventure with fiction’s most memorable pirate, Long John Silver, played with peg-legged swagger by Juan Chioran.  Also in the cast are Yolanda Bonnell, Miali Buscemi, Sarah Dodd, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Randy Hughson, Bruce Hunter, Jamie Mac, Katelyn McCulloch, Jennifer Rider-Shaw, Tahirih Vejdani and Gordon Patrick White.  The  Festival has commissioned Nicolas Billon to create this new adaptation of the thrilling classic that has inspired every pirate story since.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s original shipboard romance features Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Mark Uhre
HMS Pinafore ǀ Book and Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert ǀ Music by Arthur Sullivan ǀ
Directed by Lezlie Wade ǀ Choreographed by Kerry Gage ǀ
Musical Director Franklin Brasz ǀ Opens May 31
Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip
Josephine, “the lass that loved a sailor” in the wildly popular Gilbert and Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore, will be played by Jennifer Rider-Shaw, and making his Stratford debut as her beloved Ralph Rackstraw is Mark Uhre.  They will be joined in this riotous comedy by Lisa Horner as Little Buttercup, Laurie Murdoch as Sir Joseph Porter and Steve Ross as Captain Corcoran. Also in the cast are Gabriel Antonacci, Matthew Armet, Devon Michael Brown, Colton Curtis, Beau Dixon, Alexandra Herzog, Bonnie Jordan, Heather Kosik, Bethany Kovarik, Jordan Mah, Lily McEvenue, Marcus Nance, Nicholas Nesbitt, Trevor Patt, Glynis Ranney, Sayer Roberts, Brad Rudy, Cynthia Smithers and Tahirih Vejdani.

Scandal spins around Geraint Wyn Davies and Joseph Ziegler
The School for Scandal ǀ By Richard Brinsley Sheridan ǀ
Directed by Antoni Cimolino ǀ Opens June 3
Production support is generously provided by M. Fainer, by Drs. M.L. Myers & the late W.P. Hayman and by the Tremain family
Geraint Wyn Davies and Joseph Ziegler lead an impressive cast in the hilarious comedy of manners The School for Scandal. Mr. Wyn Davies plays Sir Peter Teazle, a wealthy gentleman with a beautiful young wife, Lady Teazle, played by Shannon Taylor, and a much-desired ward, Maria, played by Monice Peter.  Led by the chatter of Lady Sneerwell, played by Maev Beaty, and Mrs. Candour, played by Brigit Wilson, tongues wag over both women and their involvement with Charles Surface, played by Sébastien Heins, and Joseph Surface, played by Tyrone Savage, brothers who are not what they seem, as their uncle Sir Oliver Surface – Mr. Ziegler – and his friend Rowley – Brent Carver – learn in the nick of time.  Also in the cast are Rod Beattie, Michael Blake, Zara Jestadt, Mercedes Morris, Tom Rooney, Anusree Roy, Stephen Russell, Johnathan Sousa and Emilio Vieira.



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Joseph Ziegler takes the title role in Timon of Athens
Timon of Athens ǀ By William Shakespeare ǀ Directed by Stephen Ouimette ǀ Opens June 2
Production support is generously provided by Cec & Linda Rorabeck
Joseph Ziegler and Tim Campbell reunite at the Tom Patterson after their triumphant performances in All My Sons. In 2017, Mr. Ziegler will play Timon and Mr. Campbell will play Alcibiades in Shakespeare’s tale of philanthropy and misanthropy. They are joined by Ben Carlson, as Apemantus, and Michael Spencer Davis, as Flavius.  Also in the cast are Rodrigo Beilfuss, David Collins, Mikaela Davies, Ijeoma Emesowum, Jacklyn Francis, Sébastien Heins, Jessica B. Hill, Josh Johnston, Qasim Kahn, Robert King, Josue Laboucane, Cyrus Lane, Mike Nadajewski, Gareth Potter, Tyrone Savage and Rylan Wilkie.

Ben Carlson and Mikaela Davies join forces in The Changeling
The Changeling ǀ By Thomas Middleton and William Rowley
Directed by Jackie Maxwell ǀ Opens June 15
Production support is generously provided by Max & Helen Jacobs
It was the perfect crime – until she got away with it. This suspense-filled tragedy about a woman who seeks to have her fiancé murdered features Mikaela Davies as Beatrice-Joanna and Ben Carlson as her accomplice – and ultimate nemesis – De Flores. Written by contemporaries of Shakespeare, this gripping thriller also features Cyrus Lane as Alsemero, Beatrice-Joanna’s beloved.  Also in the cast are Rodrigo Beilfuss, Tim Campbell, David Collins, Ijeoma Emesowum, Jacklyn Francis, Jessica B. Hill, Zara Jestadt, Josh Johnston, Qasim Kahn, Robert King, Josue Laboucane, Mike Nadajewski, Gareth Potter, Michael Spencer-Davis and Rylan Wilkie.

Lucy Peacock stars in newly imagined Bakkhai
Bakkhai ǀ By Euripides ǀ A new version by Anne Carson ǀ
Directed by Jillian Keiley ǀ Opens June 16
Production support is generously provided by M.E.H. Foundation
Awakening savage frenzy in the women of Thebes, the god of wine, ecstasy and fertility lays bare the duality of our natures: that each of us, no matter how civilized, has a wild beast within. This contemporary version of Euripides’ famous tragedy features Lucy Peacock as Agave and Mac Fyfe as Dionysos, with Graham Abbey as Teiresias and Gordon S. Miller as Pentheus.  Also in the cast are Sarah Afful, Nigel Bennett, Jasmine Chen, Laura Condlln, Rosemary Dunsmore, Brad Hodder, André Morin, E.B. Smith, Quelemia Sparrow, Diana Tso and Bahia Watson.

Seana McKenna is the Madwoman of Chaillot
The Madwoman of Chaillot ǀ By Jean Giraudoux ǀ
A World Première of a new translation by David Edney commissioned by the Stratford Festival
Directed by Donna Feore ǀ Opens August 18
Production support is generously provided by Bob & Martie Sachs and by Alice & Tim Thorton
If oil were found beneath the streets of Paris, how would the spirit of civilization fare against the demands of corporate greed? Seana McKenna stars as Aurélie, The Madwoman of Chaillot, in this classic 20th-century comedy in which culture battles capitalism. It features Wayne Best as The Prospector, Ben Carlson as The President, Yanna McIntosh as Josephine, The Madwoman of Concorde and Scott Wentworth as The Ragman.  Also in the cast are Marion Adler, Rodrigo Beilfuss, Tim Campbell, David Collins, Mikaela Davies, Ijeoma Emesowum, Jacklyn Francis, Jessica B. Hill, Kim Horsman, Zara Jestadt, Josh Johnston, Qasim Kahn, Robert King, Josue Laboucane, Cyrus Lane, Mike Nadajewski, Gareth Potter, Michael Spencer-Davis, Rylan Wilkie and Antoine Yared.



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The Last Wife’s Bahia Watson returns as Bess in The Virgin Trial
The Virgin Trial ǀ By Kate Hennig ǀ World Première
Directed by Alan Dilworth ǀ Opens June 27
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall, by Sylvia D. Chrominska and by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol
The much-anticipated second installment of Kate Hennig’s exploration of Elizabeth I has its world première next summer, featuring Bahia Watson in the lead role of Bess. The story follows the young princess as she navigates a labyrinth of political and sexual intrigue on her journey to assume the crown. The production features Nigel Bennett as Ted, Laura Condlln as Ashley, Sara Farb returning to the role of Mary, Brad Hodder as Thom, Yanna McIntosh as Eleanor and André Morin as Parry.  The Virgin Trial was commissioned from playwright Kate Hennig through the Stratford Festival’s Laboratory, as was The Last WifeThe Last Wife has since been produced in Victoria and Chicago, and will soon be onstage in Toronto, Regina and Ottawa.

Jani Lauzon makes her Stratford debut in The Breathing Hole
The Breathing Hole ǀ By Colleen Murphy ǀ World Première ǀ
Directed by Reneltta Arluk ǀ Opens August 18
Production support is generously provided by Esther & Sam Sarick
Jani Lauzon will make her Stratford debut as Aga in The Breathing Hole, featuring Randy Hughson as Sir John Franklin. This epic new play was commissioned by the Festival for Canada 150 from playwright Colleen Murphy, who last week won her second Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. It follows the adventures of a polar bear and the humans he encounters in a 500-year saga that begins at the time of First Contact and concludes in a future ravaged by climate change. Also in the cast are Thomas Mitchell Barnet, Yolanda Bonnell, Miali Buscemi, Juan Chioran, Sarah Dodd, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Bruce Hunter, Jamie Mac, Katelyn McCulloch and Gordon Patrick White.  In preparation for the production, director Reneltta Arluk, playwright Colleen Murphy and dramaturge Bob White will be travelling to Iqaluit to work with Qaggiavuut, an Inuit arts organization that will consult on cultural practices, offer advice about some of the ritual material in the play and provide actors and readers for script consultation.  This research trip is being organized as part of the Festival’s Laboratory, the research and development department started by Mr. Cimolino at the outset of his tenure as Artistic Director. The Breathing Hole serves as an example of the breadth of work happening within the Lab. The script was commissioned through the Lab from playwright Colleen Murphy. Director Reneltta Arluk was one of eight residents at the Lab’s Playwrights Retreat in 2015 and was a participant in workshops through the Lab’s indigenous initiative. A Lab-sponsored workshop of the play was held at the University of Alberta, where Colleen Murphy is playwright in residence, and a design exploration workshop will be held this winter.  “One of the key reasons for establishing the Laboratory was to allow for greater cultural exchange,” says Mr. Cimolino. “We are facilitating this through an array of programs, including the indigenous initiative, which in addition to bringing Reneltta and other wonderfully talented artists to Stratford, has already allowed us to exchange ideas with indigenous theatre groups from Canada, New Zealand and Bolivia – while also providing these groups with access to the resources of the Stratford Festival. Not only is this work extremely stimulating, but I believe it will also lead to innovative and rich work in the years to come.”

Singer Kiran Ahluwalia makes her theatrical debut in The Komagata Maru Incident
The Komagata Maru Incident ǀ By Sharon Pollock ǀ
Directed by Keira Loughran ǀ Opens August 19
Quelemia Sparrow will play T.S. in this newly reimagined version of The Komagata Maru Incident, which will feature Punjabi-inspired vocals by singer Kiran Ahluwalia. Set in 1914 Vancouver, in a Chinese brothel, the production explores the costs of Canada’s early exclusionary immigration policies on the lives of ethnically diverse Canadians struggling to assert their place in the Canadian mosaic. Also in the cast are Jasmine Chen, Tyrone Savage and Diana Tso.

Tickets for the 2017 season will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival beginning November 28 and to the public on January 6. https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/


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