Audiences enjoyed an incredible opening week here at the Stratford Festival - and the theatre critics enjoyed it too! Macbeth
"★★★★" (out of 4 stars)
"Triumphant Macbeth is a thrilling terror"
"Taut, thrilling and terrifying… It's artistic director Antoni Cimolino's biggest triumph to date"
The Globe and Mail
"★★★½" (out of 4 stars)
"From beginning to end, Macbeth is riveting"
All My Sons
"The four leads are uniformly brilliant"
"A spellbinding production across the board"
The Globe and Mail
"Lucy Peacock triumphs in a performance of profound complexity"
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
"A magical world fully conceived"
"Enchanting and fun for the entire family"
"A magical world come to life through costume and design, delightful music, and actors very clearly having the time of their lives."
The concept is deceptively simple: a group of dancers audition for a few coveted places in the chorus line of a big Broadway show. As the director, Zach (played by Juan Chioran), narrows down the hopefuls to a shortlist of seventeen, he decides he'd like to get to know the real personalities behind the long legs and smiling faces. There are no massive, intricate sets and no elaborate costumes - at least not until the famous dazzling finale. It's all about the people and what they can - or cannot - do.
Although Cassie (Dayna Tietzen) has more of a personal reason for wanting to impress Zach, each of the other performers reveals their own high-stake reasons behind their desire to be cast. Everyone is a huge talent in their own right, and as their professional dancers' facades are stripped away, each has a chance to step out and shine.Living the dream
Not all of us want to be Broadway dancers, but every one of us knows what it's like to have a dream. We can all recognize the passion and the urgency within the hearts of each of the cast members.
Director and choreographer Donna Feore highlights the skills of each of her performers over the course of two hours. The production is bursting with high energy and truly stunning dancing, heartfelt singing, and moments of great humour and profundity.
Festival musical fans will rejoice in seeing some familiar faces in the cast but will also be introduced to some brilliant new performers. Each of these extraordinary people could be stars in their own right based on their musical talents alone - and when they each reveal their personal sides, the audience can't help but fall in love with everyone on stage.
When Zach finally steps forward to announce his final decisions, the tension is palpable both on stage and throughout the auditorium: the choices seem impossible to make, and we all want everyone to win.
But they can't.
As the successful performers fall into line for the glittering, high-kicking finale, they blend together into a single living backdrop for a star who is never actually seen. Over the course of the show, we get to know them all so well that we can't help but forever recognize them as unique individuals.
Production Co-Sponsors: RBC Royal Bank and Union Gas Limited
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, by Riki Turofsky & Charles Petersen, and by Catherine & David Wilkes
Support for the 2016 season of the Festival Theatre is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein
Over her eleven previous seasons at Stratford, Yanna McIntosh has proven herself a force to be reckoned with time and time again. With a string of iconic roles in her wake - such as Cleopatra, Elektra, Lady Macbeth and Titania - the Dora and Gemini award-winner is the perfect performer to take on two of the most powerful women's parts on this season's playbill.
A diva par excellence
In Stephen Sondheim's brilliant musical A Little Night Music, Ms McIntosh is "making her entrance again" as Désirée Armfeldt, a sultry and showy stage actress determined to have her way in all things - particularly in matters of the heart and the bedchamber.
Though Ms McIntosh is best known to Stratford audiences for her fine turns in dramatic roles, this foray into musical territory is perfect for an accomplished actress. The part demands a performer who can command the stage, so who better to play the seductive prima donna Désirée?
Ms McIntosh will be sure to have audiences holding their collective breath with her heartfelt delivery of the show's signature song, "Send in the Clowns."
Self-proclaimed queen of an icy realm
Also on the Avon Theatre stage, Ms McIntosh portrays the ultimate villainess in the form of the megalomaniacal White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Gloriously evil and regally striking in designer Dana Osborne's gorgeous costumes, Ms McIntosh will inspire a mix of fear and awe in the hearts of young audience members.
Narnia is laid waste to eternal winter under the icy rule of this heartless witch. As she faces down her arch-nemesis, Aslan the Lion, the battle between the forces of good and evil has never been more exciting to watch!
Production support for A Little Night Music is generously provided by Cleveland Friends of Stratford and by Cec & Linda Rorabeck
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is Presented by Schulich Children's Plays
Support for the 2016 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by the Birmingham family
Bringing the kids to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Make a full day of it by taking in this extra-special exhibition before the performance!
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Myths, Magic and Messages
A celebration of the classic C. S. Lewis children's book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, presented in conjunction with the Festival's production. Follow Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy into the magical world of Narnia and explore and interact with iconic scenes from this beloved classic. All aboard to Narnia!
On days with a matinée performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, tickets to the exhibition include a shuttle transfer from the Avon Theatre to the Museum. Shuttle departs at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. from the front of the theatre. To learn more, click here.
New performances added!
Due to popular demand, we've added some new dates: October 25, 26, 27 and 29, all at 2 p.m. To purchase your tickets to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, visit our website or call our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.
Get ready to expand your Festival experience - the ever-popular Forum series is back and better than ever. With more than 150 events, the Forum offers fascinating guest speakers, exclusive showcases, special meals, dynamic dialogues and plenty of family fun!
The Scottish Play | Saturday, June 18Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino joins James Shapiro, renowned Shakespearean scholar and author of The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606, for a conversation about Macbeth and how it was conditioned by the turbulence through which it was written and how its meaning continues to shift in present day.Theatre of War: Ajax Project | Saturday, June 18
Outside the Wire brings their unique Theater of War: Ajax Project to Stratford Festival actors and patrons. With readings of excerpts from Sophocles' Ajax, performed by members of the company, a panel discussion with front-line community members, and audience Q&A, we open a dialogue about the seen and unseen wounds of war, focusing particularly on the impact of combat-related stress upon active members of today's military.Such Is the Breath of Kings | Wednesday, June 15
Company members read excerpts from Elizabethan plays that dramatize the history Shakespeare left out. Robert Cushman and guests explore the background to these fascinating plays and their relationship to Breath of Kings.Coming up in early July…WordPlay: Tales from the Vienna Woods | Thursday, July 7Hosted by Geraint Wyn Davies, these special evenings are rare opportunities to see readings of large-scale works performed by our talented company. Written in 1931, Odon Von Horvath's most famous play is a sharp satire that reflects the hardships and anxieties of a society in the throes of a global economic crisis.
What I Did for Love | Saturday, July 9
Donna McKechnie, best known for her Tony Award-winning portrayal of Cassie in the original cast of A Chorus Line, speaks candidly with director Donna Feore and theatre critic Richard Ouzounian about the ground-breaking production, the show's creative team, and her own illustrious, ongoing career.
Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation.
Canadian cultural icon and Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer will be performing Shakespeare and Music at Music and Beyond in Ottawa at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church on July 8 and 9.
Mr. Plummer developed the program in collaboration with Music and Beyond's Artistic Director, Julian Armour. In 2013, this show was workshopped and performed at the Banff Centre in preparation for this Ottawa appearance.
The program will see him deliver selections from such plays as Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest seamlessly with music from the Music and Beyond Festival Orchestra, which is made up of some of the best Canadian musicians.
Music and Beyond pursues links with music and other art forms and cultural disciplines including visual art, drama, literature, history, poetry, dance, architecture, science, law, food and wine and even yoga.
This year's festival will feature such prominent musicians, artists and performers as China's top acrobatic troupe, the Hebei Acrobatic Troupe, who will perform 16 times across 11 days; jazz legend Oliver Jones; acclaimed choral group, Chanticleer; one of the world's most exciting young piano players, Jan Lisiecki; violinist Martin Chalifour; cellist Stéphane Tétreault; and such renowned ensembles as the Viennia Piano Trio, Les Violons du Roy, Le Studio de Musique ancienne de Montréal and I Musici with Charles Richard-Hamelin, plus many more.
To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit www.musicandbeyond.ca or call 613-241-0777. For travel deals to Music and Beyond with Air Canada and Vial Rail here.
This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.
Festival mainstay Sara Topham is spending 2016 away from Stratford. This summer she'll perform in Hidden Cove Production's Toronto production of David Hare's Skylight, helmed by world-renowned director and acting coach Larry Moss.
Topham plays Kyra Hollis, a dedicated and ascetic teacher, reconnecting after a complicated affair with wealthy Thatcher-era entrepreneur Tom Sergeant (Shaw Festival alumnus Lindsay G. Merrithew). The discordance of their ideologies threatens the fragile intimacy of their reunion.
Topham is known for compelling work in major Festival roles, and sees Kyra as kin to these icons: "Her life-and-death fight, to stay with this person who is her oxygen, makes Kyra very much like Juliet, Rosalind, Jessica, in those great love stories."
Skylight dazzles with exquisite dialogue. To Topham, "It's a bit like Oscar Wilde; Kyra and Tom use humour to connect, but also to deflect. The late Bernard Hopkins [Topham's Stratford mentor and dear friend] once said, 'every play is a dance between concealing and revealing', and that's fundamental here."
Topham hopes Festival regulars will see Skylight: "Stratford's audience is exercised in language-based theatre; they'll adore Skylight's depth and intelligence. Plus," she laughs, "I wear a T-shirt onstage, which I've never done! No corset, no big skirt... come see Topham in a T-shirt! And on a selfish level," she finishes, "I miss the relationship I share with the Stratford audience. I would be so delighted to see them again."
Skylight plays June 10-July 9. For tickets, and further conversation with Sara Topham, visit www.SkylightTO.com
By Nicole Stamp