The new season begins April 24 with the first performance of the year: a matinee of the Lionel Bart musical, Oliver!, starring Colm Feore as Fagin.
This season, Feore is an acting focal point at the theatre that was his artistic home for years. A veteran of stage (Broadway's Julius Caesar), film ("The Sum of All Fears") and TV ("Trudeau," "Slings and Arrows"), Feore will also play the title roles in Moliere's Don Juan and Shakespeare's Coriolanus this season at Stratford, in Ontario.
In Oliver!, which has music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart, Blythe Wilson plays Nancy. She and Feore are returning to the Festival for the first time since 2002. Performances of the Dickens-inspired "Oliver Twist" musical will play the Festival Theatre.
Joining Oliver! on the 2006 playbill, selected by artistic director Richard Monette, are William Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Henry IV, Part 1, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night; The Duchess of Malfi, by Shakespeare's contemporary John Webster; the musical South Pacific; the comedy London Assurance; Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie; two one-woman plays, The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead and Fanny Kemble; the award-winning Canadian play Harlem Duet; the French comedy The Liar; Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts; and a Festival first, a production of Molière's Don Juan presented in both English and French.
The Stratford Festival's production of Oliver! is directed and choreographed by Donna Feore. Musical direction is by Berthold Carrière. The designer is Santo Loquasto, the lighting designer is John (Jock) Munro, the sound designer is Peter McBoyle and the fight director is John Stead. Assistant director is Edward Daranyi and assistant choreographer is Natalie Sebastian. The cast includes Scott Beaudin as the Artful Dodger, Kyle Blair as Noah Claypole, Grace Chan as Mrs. Bedwin, Bruce Dow as Mr. Bumble, Barbara Fulton as Mrs. Sowerberry, Mary Ellen Mahoney as the Widow Corney, Brian McKay as Mr. Sowerberry, Tyler Pearse as Oliver, Brad Rudy as Bill Sikes, Stephen Russell as Mr. Brownlow, Katy Schroeder as Bet and Dayna Tekatch as Charlotte, as well as Brandon Banks, Christopher Fulton, Antony Grice, Erik Jay Larson, Nathan McLeod, Thomas Murray, Miles Seward and Stuart Weir as Fagin's Boys and Heather Brezden, Andrew Hancock, Erin Hessey, Olivia Kramer, Izabella Mijas, Jamie Murray and Nicholas Van Bakel as Orphans. Also appearing are Jayme Armstrong, Naomi Costain, Stephen Cota, Michelle Galati, Ryan Gifford, Christina Gordon, Kirk Hansen, Donnie Macphee, Lindsay Thomas, Heather E. Wilson, Gabriel Wolinsky and Barrie Wood. The swings are Michael Bachner, Alec Fowler, Stephen Roberts and Ayanna Sealey, with understudies David Francis and Laird Mackintosh.
Oliver! opens May 30 and plays in repertory until Oct. 29. Tickets and information are available at (800) 567-1600 or through www.stratfordfestival.ca.