The 2012 season will be a rare case of Shaw not being represented at the mainstage Festival Theatre. Ragtime, the large-cast Terrence McNally-Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical about three American communities clashing in the early 20th century, will be staged at the flagship space by artistic director Jackie Maxwell. Also on the Festival stage will be the Noel Coward comedy Present Laughter (directed by David Schurmann) and the dark satire His Girl Friday by John Guare, drawn from the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur play The Front Page and the classic 1940 film "His Girl Friday." The play was seen in London.
Shaw's Misalliance (directed by Eda Holmes) and The Millionairess (directed by Blair Williams) will play the Royal George Theatre and Court House Theatre, respectively.
The 51st season was announced on Sept. 20.
Leonard Bernstein's jazzy, American suburban-set 1952 one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti, which includes the showpiece title song, will play the Court House, under the direction of Jay Turvey.
Also at the Court House, acclaimed Canadian actress Martha Henry will stage Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, and Alisa Palmer will direct the rarely performed 1914 drama A Man and Some Women by British playwright Githa Sowerby. The "provocative story of a family driven apart by money" follows the festival's 2004 production of Sowerby's first full-length play Rutherford and Son and its 2008 production of The Stepmother. Come Back, Little Sheba, American playwright William Inge's domestic tale of a wife clinging to the past and a husband clinging to a bottle, will play the proscenium Royal George under the direction of Maxwell, who previously staged Inge's Picnic and Bus Stop at The Shaw.
Also at the Royal George, Kate Lynch will direct Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears, "a sexy comedic romp set in the south of France and one of Rattigan's longest running hits on the London stage."
Award-winning Quebec writer Carole Fréchette's "poignantly poetic" Helen's Necklace (Le Collier d'Hélène), translated and adapted by John Murrell, will play as part of the "contemporary Shavian work" series in the Studio Theatre.
The Shaw's Reading Series, which explores provocative contemporary plays from all over the world, will return next season. Dates and details to be confirmed.
Occurring throughout the year, the Play Development Program "continues its dedication to the development and production of new plays that can sit alongside those of Shaw, Chekhov and Coward, as well as new adaptations and translations that convey classic stories in a contemporary way." Currently in development are plays by Erin Shields, Michael Marc Bouchard, John Murrell and Brendan Gall.
"In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul" in four venues in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. For more information, visit shawfest.com.