The Shaw Festival has announced its 1998 season and a world premiere of a new George and Ira Gershwin musical, Foggy Day, based on the 1919 P.G. Wodehouse novel, A Damsel In Distress.
Apparently the Gershwins were interrupted in their writing by the war and their subsequent move to Hollywood. The partly finished work was discovered by John Mueller, a professor at the University of Rochester and self-confessed Gershwin nut. He has provided the Shaw with the draft and the company is hiring an as yet unannounced playwright to finish it.
The season of 11 productions begins previews April 15, and as always, includes the requisite flagship Shaw play, a murder mystery, a musical and a piece or two by the less often performed British contemporaries of Shaw's. But look closer and you'll find just enough surprises and offbeat decisions to keep things truly interesting.
One is Helena Kaut-Howson as director of the flagship Shaw, Major Barbara. Kaut-Howson boasts extensive international credits and has also worked at Montreal's Centaur Theatre and taught at Canada's National Theatre School. But she comes to the Shaw this season as a new face to Ontarians. It's all part of Newton's ongoing experiment in giving his productions of Shaw scripts a new dimension by putting the British playwright into the hands of overseas directors.
Among the non-Shaw fare, Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning and John Galsworthy's Joy are welcome selections -- both are good plays full of irony and social commentary, and both are seldom performed. Iconoclast Neil Munro as director of Joy makes it especially interesting to watch for. And a special lunchtime show has been put together as a tribute to the Festival's brilliant senior actor, Tony van Bridge. The 80-year-old (plus) performer will be featured in Waterloo, a drama by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set in 1890s England, about an aging soldier whose mind and body are failing him. The piece was originally written for Sir Henry Irving.
Season At A Glance:
Festival Theatre: Major Barbara (Bernard Shaw), You Can't Take it With You (Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman), Lady Windermere's Fan (Oscar Wilde). Court House: The Lady's Not For Burning (Christopher Fry), Joy (John Galsworthy), John Bull's Other Island (Bernard Shaw). Royal George: Foggy Day (George & Ira Gershwin), The Shop at Sly Corner (Edward Percy), Passion, Poison and Petrifaction (Bernard Shaw), Brothers in Arms (Merrill Denison), Waterloo (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Season Brochure & Box Office: 1-800-511-7429
-- By Mira Friedlander