The Shaw Festival, the major Ontario theatre festival devoted to works by Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries and plays about the era in which Shaw lived, begins its 2002 season May 21 with the mainstage opening of Caesar and Cleopatra.
Artistic director Christopher Newton stages the 1898 work. This is Newton's final season as artistic director of the three-venue fest on the lip of Lake Ontario in the sleepy town of Niagara on-the-Lake, a half-hour downstream from Niagara Falls. He started there in 1979.
Previews for Caesar and Cleopatra began April 13 on the flagship Festival Theatre stage. Performances continue in repertory to Oct. 27.
Designers are William Schmuck (set and costumes) and Kevin Lamotte (lighting).
The cast includes Caroline Cave, Sarah Orenstein, Glynis Ranney, Jane Johanson, Juliet Dunn, Tracy Thomas, Jeff Lillico, Neil Barclay, Peter Millard, Tyley Ross, Adrian Marchuk, Mike Wasko, Gary Krawford, Jeff Madden, Karim Morgan, Jay Turvey, Patrick R. Brown, Jim Mezon, Guy Bannerman, Norman Browning, Douglas E. Hughes, Jeffrey Renn, Pete Treadwell, Jamie Burnett, David Leyshon, Mark McGrinder, Stephen McQuigge, Micheal Querin, Wayne Sujo, Duncan Stewart, Corey Turner and Leo Vernik. May 21-25 marks the 2002 Shaw Festival's opening week. Other opening are scattered through the summer; productions play in repertory on three respective stages — the proscenium Festival, the three-quarter, intimate Court House Theatre and the Victorian music-hall-style Royal George Theatre.
The opening week includes:
- Rodney Ackland's 1935 play of a mystery-thriller by Sir Hugh Walpole, The Old Ladies, about three women who share a house and mysterious doings, directed by James MacDonald, opening May 22 at the Royal George Theatre, through Oct. 27.
- Sidney Kingsley's 1949 potboiler, Detective Story, directed by Neil Munro, opening May 23 at the Festival Theatre, through Sept. 21.
- Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1981 musical about dysfunctional showfolk, Merrily We Roll Along, inspired Kaufman and Hart's play, directed by Shaw artistic director designate Jackie Maxwell, opening May 24 at the Royal George Theatre, though Oct. 26.
- St John Hankin's 1905 Return of the Prodigal, about a n'er-do-well son who comes home and shocks his family, opening May 25 at the Court House Theatre, through Sept. 21.
The varied repertory season includes J.M. Barrie's The Old Lady Shows Her Medals; the world premiere of a solo bio show, Chaplin, by Simon Bradbury; Harley Granville Barker's His Majesty, a political adventure; Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba; Noel Coward's Hay Fever; and Shaw's Candida.
For more information, click here or call (800) 511-SHAW.
— By Kenneth Jones