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 May 2009 - Nr. 5
Irena Syrokomla

The playbill for 2009 Stratford Shakespeare Festival season was announced last year in August – really early for the audience as well as the producers, the actors and the technical support. As the times for the opening nights approach – some as early as April – let me give you some idea what is there waiting for us:

This time there are three Shakespeare plays : Macbeth directed by Des McAnuff with Colm Feore in the title role, Julius Ceasar with some popular actors: Ben Carlson as Brutus, Jonathan Goad as Mark Anthony and Tom Rooney as Cassius, and Midsummer Night Dream with Dion Johnstone as Oberon and Yanna McIntosh as Titiana. Macbeth and Julius Ceasar will open in May, Midsummer Night Dream later – in August.

I am especially interested in the production of the latter, since I have seen it only once ages ago in the outdoor production in High Park.

In line with the period classics there is a play by Ben Johnson Bartholomew Fair directed by Antoni Cimolino, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, a wonderful swashbuckling story, full of colourful fights and a romance, and Three Sisters, a classic by Chekhov. Martha Henry, an accomplished actress, directs the last one with Lucy Peacock, Adrienne Gould and Irene Poole in the main roles. It will be interesting to see how it will come out this time. The last very classic play is Phedre by Racine, translated and adapted by Timberlake Wertenbaker. I am very fond of modern translations of the classic dramas and their new adaptations, hopefully as good as last year’s Fuente Ovejuna. A bit more recent (everything is relative) is The Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar Wilde, directed by Brian Bedford and featuring Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell – this in itself is worth the trip to Stratford!

There will be two musicals this summer: West Side Story, well known and much loved, with explosive dance numbers and an unforgettable score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim – as the brochure describes. There will be much to accomplish for the choreographer and the dancers, I am sure, and much to sing along with as well. The second musical, music and lyrics also by Stephen Sondheim, is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, again directed by Des McAnuff, set in ancient Rome, - a comedy, a love story, and full of fun.

At the Studio Theatre, a much more intimate space featuring modern plays, the world premiere of Morris Panych’s play The Trespassers will be staged, and the author himself will direct it. Another play Zastrozzi by George F.Walker is scheduled, and finally Rice Boy by Sunil Kuruvilla, who is a Canadian of East Indian descent, the recipient of two United Nations’ literary awards - and his plays have been staged through North America.

The season has already opened and will continue until November.

Stratford Shakespeare Festival 2009 Guide may be obtained and tickets booked by calling Stratford Office at 1-800-567-1600 or through the website The Guide also features local restaurants, shopping, hotels, Bed & Breakfast and other attractions. Needless to say it is one of the best repertory theatres on this continent, and we are lucky to have it within easy access in South Western Ontario – so do not hesitate, take advantage of it and enjoy summer!

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Irena Syrokomla reviews arts, entertainment, the performing arts such as theatre, musicals, stage performances.

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