Stratford Festival Will Include Carousel, Sound of Music, Diary of Anne Frank, and More

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25 Aug 2014

With productions ranging from classic musicals to dark comedic satires, Stratford Festival's 2015 season will include 13 productions that focus on "eureka moments."

"Eureka moments take many different forms," artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a statement. "When a creative spark is ignited, when we gain a sudden flash of insight into our own natures, when a scientific discovery requires us to revise our model of reality: those are just a few instances of how a leap in comprehension can change our lives."

"Such moments are critical to human progress: from ancient times to the present day, they've enabled us to push back the horizons of our understanding, to enlarge our world, to increase our knowledge of ourselves. But at the same time, they often come at a cost — sometimes a terrible one.

"In planning the 2015 season, I wanted to explore the implications of those moments of discovery, whether personal, scientific or social. I wanted to look at the promises they hold out, the risks they entail, the truths they tell us about ourselves, and how they may affect the delicate balance between individual freedom and collective responsibility."

The season will open with Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, directed by Cimolino. Here's how the production is billed: "Hamlet centres on the brooding Prince of Denmark, who is both in mourning for his father and deeply disturbed by the speedy remarriage of his mother, Gertrude, to Claudius, her deceased husband's brother, whom Hamlet believes murdered his father."



The Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The Sound of Music will follow, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore. "The family favourite tells the story of Maria Rainer, a high-spirited postulant at Austria's Nonnberg Abbey," press notes state. "Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Maria is sent by her Mother Abbess to act as governess to the seven children of naval captain and widower Georg von Trapp, so that she may discover if she truly has a religious vocation. Maria's love of music, and of life, soon endears her to the children and eventually, despite his initial resistance, to their father. But two circumstances cause them to look into their hearts and rethink their destinies: Maria's growing feelings of love for her already engaged employer, and the Captain's unconcealed detestation of the Nazi regime that is occupying his homeland."

William Shakespeare's battle of the sexes, The Taming of the Shrew, will follow, directed by Chris Abraham. Here's how the production is billed: "Katherina, or Kate, the 'shrew' of the title, has a reputation for ill temper that so far has discouraged any potential suitors — and until a match for her can be found, her father will not countenance any proposals to her sister, Bianca. But then Petruchio, looking for a wealthy wife, decides to take up the challenge of wooing Kate. The ensuing contest of wills leads to a conclusion that has fuelled much controversy in modern times."

John Caird will make his Stratford debut directing Shakespeare's comedy Love's Labour's Lost. "The play revolves around a decision by the young King of Navarre and his friends to renounce the company of women and devote themselves to contemplative study," press notes state. "Unfortunately their decision is made just as the Princess of France and her three lovely companions arrive on court business. Life and love have some lessons in store for them all, as the characters discover that it takes more than high spirits and witty words to win a woman's heart."

Oliver Goldsmith's comedy of manners She Stoops to Conquer will be directed by Martha Henry. Here's how the production is billed: "In this delightful and extremely funny comedy, a wealthy countryman, Mr. Hardcastle, arranges for his daughter Kate to meet Charles Marlow, the son of a wealthy Londoner, hoping the pair will marry. But confusion runs riot when a trick played by Kate's half-brother causes Marlow to mistake the home of his potential father-in-law for an inn. Further complications are caused by the fact that Marlow becomes nervous and tongue-tied around upper-class women. Realizing she will have to "stoop to conquer," Kate poses as a maid in order to put him at his ease and help him connect with his own heart — and hers."

Susan H. Schulman will direct the musical Carousel, which features music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. "Against the backdrop of a sun-drenched New England summer, a pair of star-crossed lovers, carnival barker Billy Bigelow and millworker Julie Jordan, discover the power of love to transcend turmoil and even time itself in a show graced by what is arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein's most luscious score, filled with soaring melodies and unforgettable lyrics," press notes state.

Schulich Children's Plays will present The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by Jillian Keiley. Here's how the production is billed: "There are few who do not know the harrowing but inspiring story of Anne Frank and the journal in which she documented her experience of hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam for more than two years. Her diary reveals a young woman's journey of self-discovery in a life cruelly cut short when she and her family were found and sent to die in concentration camps."

Sophocles' Oedipus Rex will be staged at the Tom Patterson Theatre and directed by Daniel Brooks. "Filled with cryptic prophesies, Oedipus Rex presents numerous moments of creative inspiration, all leading to tragic consequences," press notes state. "King Oedipus, seeking a remedy for the terrible curse that has befallen Thebes, sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to seek the advice of the god Apollo. Creon informs Oedipus that the curse will be lifted if the murderer of the former king, Laius, slain many years ago at a crossroads, is found and brought to justice. Oedipus dedicates himself to the discovery and prosecution of Laius's killer, an enterprise that leads to his own ruin."

Scott Wentworth will direct William Shakespeare's Pericles. "As in Oedipus Rex, the action of Pericles hinges on a riddle, the solution to which sends the title character on a journey of Homeric proportions, involving a long separation and culminating in a joyous reunion. This production will be directed by Scott Wentworth."

Miles Potter will return to the Festival for his 13th season in 2015, directing Friedrich Dürrenmatt's dark satirical comedy The Physicists. "Herbert Georg Beutler (who believes that he is Sir Isaac Newton), Ernst Heinrich Ernesti (who believes he is Albert Einstein) and Johann Wilhelm Möbius (who believes that he is regularly visited by the biblical King Solomon) are all patients at Les Cerisiers sanatorium, an idyllic home for the mentally ill," press notes state. "'Einstein' is under investigation by the police after the second murder of a nurse in three months, the first having been committed by 'Newton.' When yet another murder takes place, it emerges that none of these three men are quite what they seem. This brilliant, funny and thought-provoking play deals with questions of scientific ethics and humanity's ability to handle its intellectual responsibilities."

Cimolino will direct Ben Jonson's satirical comedy The Alchemist, "the story of three con artists — Face, Subtle and Dol Common — who set up shop in the house of Face's temporarily absent master, Lovewit. With Subtle posing as a doctor learned in alchemy, they prey on a steady stream of gullible victims, including the sensualist Sir Epicure Mammon and the Puritan zealots Tribulation and Ananias, duping them with pseudo-scientific jargon and the irresistible promise that they are on the verge of discovering how to turn base metals into gold. Through a combination of quick changes and even quicker wits, the three tricksters manage to evade discovery — until everything is turned on its head by Lovewit's unexpected return."

Mitchell Cushman will make his Stratford directorial debut with John Mighton's philosophical whodunit Possible Worlds. The play "revolves around the mysterious death of George Barber, whose body is found with its brain missing. Two detectives set out to uncover the truth behind his grisly death, in a plot that explores alternate dimensions and brings into question the very notion of reality."

The Last Wife, a startlingly contemporary play about Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, written by Kate Hennig, will have its world première at the Studio Theatre in 2015, directed by Alan Dilworth. The play "focuses on a dying husband, a steamy affair, and a compelled marriage full of personal violence that offers an irresistible climb to absolute authority. Does Katherine risk her safety to gain power? Does she love the man she should love or the man she must love? And what happens to her children when she loses it all?"

Visit stratfordfestival.ca for more information.