Artistic director Jackie Maxwell announced the 11-production slate on Sept. 21. The Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, company operates four theatres. Its programming is devoted to the work of Shaw, his contemporaries and plays about his times. The mandate has expanded to include provocative, socially relevant modern plays that are in a Shaw vein.
My Fair Lady, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is based on Shaw's Pygmalion (from the film version, actually). It has never been presented at the Shaw Festival. Molly Smith, artistic director of Washington, DC's Arena Stage, will direct at the Festival Theatre. Performances will play April 13-Oct. 30, 2011.
The season's three plays by Shaw on three stages are Heartbreak House (Festival Theatre, May 10-Oct. 7, 2011) directed by Christopher Newton; On the Rocks (Court House Theatre, June 14-Oct. 8, 2011) directed by Joseph Zeigler; and Candida (Royal George Theatre, April 7-Oct. 30, 2011) directed by Gina Wilkinson.
Maria Severa, a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Jay Turvey & Paul Sportelli, will play the Court House Theatre July 19-Sept. 23. Maxwell will direct the work, which is billed this way: "A romantic new musical about the legendary Maria Severa and the birth of Fado, the Portuguese music of the street that touched the heart of a people, makes its world premiere at The Shaw." The festival commissioned the work.
Also expected are The Admirable Crichton by J.M. Barrie (Festival Theatre, June 22-Oct. 29, 2011) directed by Morris Panych; the Canadian premiere of a play about a town moved by the power of theatre, Drama at Inish – A Comedy, by Lennox Robinson (Court House Theatre, May 6-Oct. 1, 2011); Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Royal George Theatre, May 3-Oct. 23, 2011) directed by Ed Holmes; the short play The President by Ferenc Molnàr, adapted by Morwyn Brebner (Royal George Theatre, June 3-Oct. 9, 2011) directed by Blair Williams; plus two contemporary plays — the Canadian premiere of Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks (in association with Obsidian Theatre at the Studio Theatre, July 19-Aug. 27, 2011) directed by Philip Akin, and the Canadian premiere of When the Rain Stops Falling by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell (Studio Theatre, Aug. 11-Sept. 17, 2011) directed by Peter Hinton. Tickets for the Shaw Festival's 50th season go on sale to Shaw Festival members beginning Nov. 6. Tickets to the general public go on sale in January. Ticket prices remain the same as 2010 and range from $23 to $30 for youth, $40 for seniors and $35-$105 for regular tickets. Call (800) 511-7429 to become a member. For more information, visit www.shawfest.com.
Here's how the festival — which operates 25 minutes downstream from Niagara Falls, on the lip of Lake Ontario — bills itself: "In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever-broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond."