Performances of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's new production of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra began Aug. 7 toward an Aug. 17 opening at the Festival Theatre. Stratford's new artistic director Des McAnuff (Broadway's Jersey Boys, The Who's Tommy) directs the new production.
In Stratford's early years, future Broadway, London and film star Plummer — a Toronto native — worked under Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham, playing most of the great roles in the Shakespeare canon.
According to production notes, "Their first encounter under a desert moon will lead to a shift in the course of history, as Cleopatra gradually overcomes her timidity to become a determined player in the game of power politics."
Plummer and James lead a cast featuring Diane D'Aquila as Ftatateeta, Peter Donaldson as Rufio, Timothy D. Stickney as Pothinus, Steven Sutcliffe as Britannus and John Vickery as Lucius Septimius. The production team includes set designer Robert Brill, lighting designer Robert Thomson, costume designer Paul Tazewell, composer Rick Fox, sound designer Jim Neil, dramaturge Robert Blacker, fight director Steve Rankin, movement director Lisa Shriver, aerial effects designer Paul Rubin, assistant director Daryl Cloran, fight captain Wayne Best, stage manager Dianne Woodrow, assistant stage managers Marie Fewer and Brian Scott and production stage manager Margaret Palmer.
Plummer recently appeared on Broadway as King Lear (for Lincoln Center Theater, in association with Stratford) and as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind. He began professionally in Montréal, on radio and stage in French and English, and worked under legendary director Fyodor Komisarjevsky.
In France he was Jason opposite Dame Judith Anderson's Medea. On Broadway he appeared in The Starcross Story with Eva Le Gallienne; Home Is the Hero; The Dark Is Light Enough opposite Katharine Cornell (Theatre World Award); The Lark opposite Julie Harris; Night of the Auk; Nickles in Elia Kazan's J.B.; the title role in Brecht's Arturo Ui; Pizarro in The Royal Hunt of the Sun; the title role in the musical Cyrano (Tony Award, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards); Neil Simon's The Good Doctor (NY Drama League Award); Iago in Othello (Tony nomination); Macbeth; No Man's Land (Tony nomination); Barrymore (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Edwin Booth, National Arts Awards); and King Lear (Tony nomination, Drama Desk).
In England, he played many roles at the RSC (Sir Peter Hall) and the National Theatre (Sir Laurence Olivier) including Becket (Evening Standard Award) and Danton's Death directed by Sir Jonathan Miller (Evening Standard nomination).
Plummer has appeared in approximately 100 movies including the Oscar-winning "The Sound of Music," "The Man Who Would Be King," "Waterloo" and "Dolores Claiborne"; the Oscar-nominated "The Insider" (National Society Film Critics Award); the Oscar-winning "A Beautiful Mind"; "Nicholas Nickleby"; "Syriana"; and "The Inside Man." He has received two Emmy Awards and six Emmy nominations
James recently starred as Dorothy in The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse. Her credits include Broadway's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Off-Broadway's Walmartopia, Adela in Bernarda Alba (Lincoln Center Theater), Otillie in House of Flowers (City Center Encores!), Babes in Arms (Goodspeed) and more.
The Caesar and Cleopatra cast also includes Dalal Badr, Wayne Best, David Collins, Aidan Desalaiz, Paul Dunn, Jesse Aaron Dwyre, Alana Hawley, Daniel Jewlal, Melanie Keller, Ian Lake, Roy Lewis, Gordon S. Miller, Michelle Monteith, Azeem Nathoo, Trent Pardy, Irene Poole, Gareth Potter, André Sills, Stacie Steadman, Timothy D. Stickney, Brian Tree, Sophia Walker and Douglas Williams.
Caesar and Cleopatra plays in repertory until Nov. 9.
Tickets are available through the box office, at (800) 567-1600, or online at www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.