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Don’t Dream It – Be It

Dan Chameroy is back strutting his stuff as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show

Returning for the first time since 2012's Wanderlust, Festival favourite Dan Chameroy finds himself entering a very different musical world indeed.

"The Rocky Horror Show is definitely a first for Stratford," says Mr. Chameroy. "Something like this with such a huge cult following will attract dedicated fans, and that'll make for keen audience members who are totally in love with the material. Subtle it is not! On many levels, it's quite a risky (and risqué) show - but I think it's risky in a good way. In its brash, bold rock-'n'-roll style, it celebrates freedom and invites one and all to embrace the concept of who you really are and to celebrate your differences."

Auditioning for the role of the world's most famous pan-sexual cross-dressing mad scientist is arguably a bit of a daunting task, but Mr. Chameroy found that seeing familiar friendly faces behind the table went a long way to put him at his ease.

"I walked into the room to see Donna Feore [director and choreographer], Laura Burton [music director] and Franklin Brasz [the Festival's Director of Music] all sitting there smiling at me. They are a great bunch of folks, and I have worked with them all in the past, so to be in the company of old friends for the audition process was very comforting."

For the initial audition, things were fairly straightforward: he was asked to sing, do a scene from the show and have a chat. The callback required getting a bit more into character.

"The original show writer, Richard O'Brien, is given a say in casting for any major production, and so my callback was put on video for his approval. Understandably, they want you to push the limits a bit the second time out and give them a clearer idea of how you will present physically on stage. I went in wearing tights and high heels. It is important to demonstrate that you can move about well in that sort of thing, and not just stagger around like a baby deer taking its first steps. So ahead of time, I went to Payless with my wife to shop for a pair of pumps. I didn't want to pay a lot of money for them, and got a deal on some beige shoes with three-inch heels for forty bucks. After the callback, I returned them to the store. I wanted my forty bucks back!"

Since he was cast, Mr. Chameroy has been brewing ideas about how to approach his character. "By way of prep, I've been reading Eddie Izzard's memoir Believe Me, and it is fantastic stuff. Rocky Horror's Frank is not male, and not female: Frank is a balance of everything. Since the show was written in the glam-rock '70s, so many things have changed, and the term 'transvestite' might offend some people today. But really it was the start of the change - the notion of sexual fluidity has evolved over the years to where we are at today, with different terms developing for transgender and non-binary folks, and that progress is something to celebrate. In the midst of all the crazy fun we're going to have, we're hoping that we can open a few eyes and minds along the way. I think that the new generation growing up now are far more tolerant and open than society has been in the past. It's a shifting world and a time of big historical change, with women and young people leading the charge."

With the stellar direction and choreography skills of Donna Feore, The Rocky Horror Show promises to be one fun, audacious ride.

"The Festival is embracing the mad nature of this show," says Mr. Chameroy. "It's going to be a huge blast with the audience getting involved - it's a party! It's my first-ever rock musical, and that to me is very exciting. I get to inhabit this free, uninhibited being who is deliciously manipulative - Frank uses sexuality as a tool to get absolutely everything he wants out of life. Utterly shameless. He is teaching everyone how to loosen up. It will be a liberating experience for the fabulous cast, and for everyone out there watching.

"And the cast truly is great - there are a lot of new faces in the company since I was last here, and some really tremendous singing voices in this production. Richard O'Brien put it best - and I'm paraphrasing a bit - when he described it as a show with a B-movie script and B-movie acting, but when you sing, you have to be an effing rock star!"

The Rocky Horror Show strides on stage at the Avon Theatre on April 27 and plays until Halloween on October 31. For more information and to book your tickets, visit our website or call the Festival Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.

 

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Robert Lepage’s Visionary Coriolanus

One of the world’s foremost stage directors takes on one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known Roman plays

It has been a long time in the making, but after twelve years of lively discussion and juggling of busy schedules, Quebec-born theatre artist Robert Lepage is finally bringing his unique style and vision to the Stratford Festival. But it wasn't just a case of fitting in the production around Mr. Lepage's own Ex Machina theatre company and international performance dates: his style of working differs radically from that of a repertory theatre like the Festival, so ways had to be found to accommodate the needs of both partners in the process of developing this Coriolanus for the stage.

"Ex Machina is into creating new dramaturgical forms and new writing experiences and ways of seeing the theatre; trying things that haven't been done before," explains Mr. Lepage. "The Festival brings us back to the fundamentals of acting and storytelling. The kind of work I do - 'creation theatre' - usually isn't done with a lot of people. Typically, I use smaller casts, rarely on an epic scale." But, he adds, "we can do things at the Festival that can't be done anywhere else. We have actors who can perform in a musical in the afternoon and Shakespeare in the evening, and an infrastructure that can support larger work.

"Both sides are excited about the idea of working together. I have always been a great admirer of Stratford. Great actors. Many of the company members are adventurous and look to take risks. There is a lot of freedom to try new things."

Mr. Lepage is known world-wide for his dynamic multi-media stagings of live theatre, opera, museum projects and spectacular circus shows with the legendary Cirque du Soleil. Fans of the Canadian Opera Company still rave about his famous productions of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle and Schoenberg's Erwartung, lesser-known works that he brought to dazzling new life with his innovative brand of dreamlike staging and such multimedia features as the use of projections.

The design of this season's Coriolanus will bring the play into the present day, but Mr. Lepage has been exploring what he calls "temporal doorways": ways of visually linking our modern world to that of the ancient Roman general, Caius Marcus Coriolanus, on whose story the play is based.

Early concepts by the design team include framing the Avon Theatre proscenium on all sides with black PVC shutter curtains that will move to change the size and proportion of the stage picture from scene to scene, while a large cyclorama at the back of the stage will have imagery projected onto it to enable swift and seamless scenic transitions. The technical challenge of projecting imagery onto the set but not onto the performers has called for much in the way of exciting experimentation and innovative solutions, and the results will be a spectacular accompaniment to and enhancement of the play's powerful language.

With his vast imagination for epic tales, it is often said that Shakespeare himself would have welcomed the use of modern technology to produce his works.

"Most great playwrights favour unity of space. Shakespeare is epic, cinematic in that sense," says Mr. Lepage. "He forces us to change locations all the time; creates formal and architectural challenges - forces the audience's minds to change place and atmosphere, almost doing close-ups, flashbacks in a rather cinematic way that today's audience understands. We are ready to read Shakespeare in a contemporary way; to zoom in on things in the play. We will use today's tools to help tell and enhance Shakespeare's story and paradoxes of characters. We will play around with time and space."

The political themes of the play will carry deep resonances for today's audiences, and the modern dress will make the parallels to the contemporary world all the more striking.

"Coriolanus is a play that people return to; a debate about the workings of democracy," says Mr. Lepage. "None of the parties is innocent. Coriolanus represents the military and despises the public. Meantime, the people are trying to fight against the one per cent - and then there are the tribunes who speak for the people. Every part of the democratic system is represented, and all of them are crooked. It is a political play, but doesn't take one side more than the other. It is a piece where you could have a lively debate afterwards with your fellow theatregoers."

Coriolanus runs at the Avon Theatre from June 9 to October 20. For more information and to book tickets, visit our website or call our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.

Production support is generously provided by Larry Enkin & family in memory of Sharon Enkin, by Sylvia Soyka, and by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Production Sponsor: BMO Financial Group

Production Support by: New Chapter

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Making Theatre Accessible to All

We want every audience member to be able to share in the excitement of live theatre with our special accessible performances

The Festival strives to ensure that everyone's visit is extraordinary by offering programs, facilities and services that give patrons with disabilities everything they need to have an enjoyable experience. Our buildings and facilities are wheelchair accessible, and special access seating is available in each of our theatres.

Guide dogs or other trained and accredited service animals are welcome. If you are planning to see a performance with your service animal, please advise the Box Office representative when you purchase your tickets so that an appropriate seat is assigned to you.

Stratford also welcomes patrons with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person. Complimentary admission for one companion accompanying a patron with a valid CNIB card or an Access2Entertainment card will be granted. The Festival will also consider additional requests on a case-by-case basis, so please feel free to enquire at any time.

 

Live Audio Description

If you are blind or low-vision, we offer Braille house programs and magnifying sheets at our theatres: simply ask one of our friendly front-of-house staff. For a truly special experience, we invite you to check out our audio description service.

On selected dates throughout the season, these performances are designed to enhance the experience for patrons who are blind or have compromised vision. A live audio describer gives details of costumes, sets and key on-stage action. Delivered via headset, the description supplements the spoken dialogue without interfering with it.

This coming season, we offer described performances for more productions than ever before - including for the first time at the Studio Theatre. Audio described performances are scheduled on the following dates:*

The Music Man: June 24 at 2 p.m. and August 24 at 2 p.m., Festival Theatre.

The Tempest: July 8 at 2 p.m., Festival Theatre.

To Kill a Mockingbird: July 12 at 2 p.m., Festival Theatre.

The Rocky Horror Show: July 20 at 2 p.m., Avon Theatre.

An Ideal Husband: July 29 at 2 p.m., Avon Theatre.

Coriolanus: August 19 at 2 p.m., Avon Theatre.

Paradise Lost: September 23 at 2 p.m., Studio Theatre.

 

Touch Tours

For even greater enhancement of your experience, we now offer free touch tours before selected audio described performances. Starting at noon, our audio describer will lead you through a 45-minute tour in which you'll be able to touch and handle fabrics, props and costume items for the play you are about to see. Touch tour dates are as follows:*

The Music Man: June 24 at noon, Festival Theatre.

The Tempest: July 8 at noon, Festival Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show: July 20 at noon, Avon Theatre

 

Services for Deaf and Deafened Patrons

Hearing Assistive Receivers

These are available to patrons with hearing disabilities and/or requiring hearing assistance. All three of our theatres are equipped with our current Radio-Frequency System. We encourage you to reserve your hearing assistive receivers in advance, but on-site requests can be accommodated if quantities permit.

ASL Interpreted Performance

Professional American Sign Language theatre interpreters, stationed at the level of the stage, provide interpretation for deaf and deafened patrons. Designated seating has been reserved for best viewing of the stage and the ASL interpreters. We hope you can join us for this ASL interpreted performance:

The Rocky Horror Show: October 20 at 8 p.m., Avon Theatre.*

 

Open Captioning

During the performance, there will be a screen at the front of the stage upon which the dialogue and sound effects of the play will be displayed as text. The text will be captioned in real time - that is, at the same pace as the actors are speaking. Designated seating has been reserved for best viewing of the stage and the screen. Please join us for:

The Tempest: July 8 at 2 p.m., Festival Theatre.*

Relaxed Performances

These are specifically designed for patrons who will benefit from a less restricted audience environment. Patrons of all abilities are welcome, including but not limited to those with intellectual or learning disabilities, sensory processing conditions or autism. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement within the auditorium, and some minor production changes may be made to reduce the intensity of light, sound and other potentially startling effects. Please join us for:

The Music Man: August 7 at 2 p.m., Festival Theatre.*

*Please note that additional special performance dates may be added for groups of 20 or more. Contact our Groups Department for further information: groups@stratfordfestival.ca

 

To book tickets for any of our enhanced performances, please call our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600. We look forward to welcoming you to our theatres in 2018!

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Act Fast! Sales Are Hot at the Studio Theatre

It may seem early, but don’t delay: book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

It must be March Madness! Although it's only early spring and the company is still rehearsing, some dates for the four amazing productions at our intimate Studio Theatre are already sold out! With a smaller number of performance dates and not much opportunity to extend our most popular shows this season, space is limited and sales are brisk.

Be sure to plan ahead for all of the great offerings at the Festival this season - especially at the Studio Theatre! Shakespeare's hilarious The Comedy of Errors  and our world première of Paradise Lost both have extremely limited availability and the most sold-out dates, while sales for the stunning classicLong Day's Journey Into Night and our other première, Brontë: The World Without, aren't far behind!

Don't miss out on any of the stellar performances, searing drama, crazy humour or diabolical wit. For more information and to book your seats right now, visit our website  or contact our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.