Christopher Plummer Will Be Caesar Opposite Anika Noni Rose's Cleopatra in Canada

News   Christopher Plummer Will Be Caesar Opposite Anika Noni Rose's Cleopatra in Canada
 
Tony Award-winning star Christopher Plummer will return to the Stratford Festival of Canada in 2008 to play Julius Caesar in Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, the festival announced Aug. 21.
Christopher Plummer and Anika Noni Rose will star in Caesar and Cleopatra.
Christopher Plummer and Anika Noni Rose will star in Caesar and Cleopatra. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Shakespeare is the foundation of the festival, where Plummer spent salad days in choice roles.

Caesar and Cleopatra will be directed by co-artistic director Des McAnuff and will feature Christopher Plummer as Julius Caesar, opposite Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose of Caroline, or Change, for which she won a Best Featured Actress Tony. She is also known for playing pop singer Lorrell Robinson in the movie "Dreamgirls."

"Christopher Plummer is an international treasure," stated McAnuff. "He and Anika get on like a house on fire and I'm thrilled that they will be bringing their very impressive skill sets and depth of talent to these remarkable parts."

(The programming of the Shaw play is rare for the troupe, and somewhat horns in on the mandate of Ontario's Shaw Festival, a three-hour drive from Stratford.)

The Stratford Festival has produced only two Shaw works in its history: Saint Joan, in 1975, and Arms and the Man, in 1982. "Caesar and Cleopatra is a play Christopher Plummer has wanted to do for some time and I fell in love with that idea," stated McAnuff. "I think it's a terrific part for him." Plummer last appeared at the Stratford Festival in 2002 in a production of King Lear that went on to New York City's Lincoln Center Theater. The 1996 season featured Plummer in Barrymore, which also went on to Broadway, where Plummer won a Tony Award for his performance.

In 2006-07, Plummer starred in the Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind.

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The 2008 Stratford season will also feature the musicals The Music Man and Cabaret, both previously seen at the festival.

"Our goal for this Festival is to illuminate Shakespeare's work and give audiences an exciting variety of theatrical experiences," stated general director Antoni Cimolino. "We're very proud of the season we're putting together and also delighted that Christopher Plummer will be joining us again."

The Avon Theatre, which housed this summer's hit My One and Only, will continue in the musical tradition by hosting The Music Man and Cabaret.

"The Avon is the natural home for musicals with that lovely proscenium arch that allows for all kinds of fantastic scenery and visual effects," stated co-artistic director Marti Maraden. "And of course we will schedule the musicals so they can accommodate just as many people as they have in the past, when one musical was staged at the Festival Theatre and one at the Avon."

American director Susan H. Schulman, who directed To Kill a Mockingbird this season, and is known for New York stagings of American musicals Violet, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden and Little Women.

Cabaret will be directed by Amanda Dehnert, a rising director in American musical theatre. She is a resident director at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, where she has directed such shows as The Fantasticks, My Fair Lady and West Side Story.

She is expected "to bring a highly unorthodox approach" to Cabaret.

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In July the Festival announced it would be changing its name to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival to reflect its commitment to Shakespeare and the classics. The 2008 playbill includes Shakespeare's Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, All's Well That Ends Well, The Taming of the Shrew and Love's Labour's Lost, as well as the classic plays The Trojan Women by Euripides, Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega, and Emilia Galotti by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

Several new works are still in the planning stages for 2008 and will be announced as soon as details are confirmed.

For information, visit www.stratfordfestival.com.

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