Canada's Shaw Festival Launches 2012 Season With Present Laughter, Starring Steven Sutcliffe; Ragtime On Deck

By Kenneth Jones
May 23, 2012

The 51st season of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, officially begins May 23 at the Festival Theatre with the opening night of Noel Coward's Present Laughter, directed by David Schurmann and featuring Steven Sutcliffe, Claire Jullien, Mary Haney and Moya O'Connell.

The Shaw's annual opening weekend of its early round of shows continues Thursday to Sunday with the openings of four more works: Githa Sowerby's A Man and Some Women; Bernard Shaw's Misalliance; Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears; and the Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty musical Ragtime.

The titles "are prime examples of the Shaw's commitment to producing theatre that explores new approaches to classic plays and reveals new worlds," according to Festival notes. Other productions roll out over the summer and continue in repertory on four stages.

Ragtime (in repertory to Oct. 10) is the highest-selling show this season, followed by Present Laughter. Over 35,000 people will have attended performances of the five productions over the past seven weeks of previews.

On May 22, the Shaw Festival's artistic director Jackie Maxwell will join The Shaw's board of governors chair Gary M. Comerford, invited guests and the rest of the company in celebrating the start of the season.

The Shaw Festival's 51st season runs to Oct. 28 and will also feature His Girl Friday; Come Back, Little Sheba; The Millionairess; Hedda Gabler; Trouble in Tahiti; and Helen's Necklace.