Canada's Shaw Fest Begins With Earnest Ambitions April 2; Shaw, Rodgers, Guettel, Synge in the Mix

News   Canada's Shaw Fest Begins With Earnest Ambitions April 2; Shaw, Rodgers, Guettel, Synge in the Mix
The 2004 Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, begins April 2 with the first preview of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, at the Royal George Theatre.
Evan Buliung and David Leyshon in The Importance of Being Earnest
Evan Buliung and David Leyshon in The Importance of Being Earnest

Christopher Newton directs the staging, which features Evan Buliung, David Leyshon and Goldie Semple.

Performances continue in repertory through Dec. 4. Over the next weeks and months the two other venues in the respected festival, the Festival and the Court House theatres, will light with varied works.

Pygmalion (starting April 8) and Man and Superman will anchor the 2004 Shaw Festival season at its flagship Festival Theatre. The Canadian company is devoted to the period in which Shaw lived.


The contemporary 1925-set musical, Floyd Collins, is also part of the mix. In recent years, the Shaw altered its mandate to include plays set in or about Shaw's lifetime, not just plays by his contemporaries and works that emerged in his lifetime. Artistic director Jackie Maxwell isn't exactly hemmed in by the old mandate: Shaw lived almost 100 years, 1856 1950.

The 12-work season on the Shaw Fest's three stages in scenic, historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (a half-hour downstream from Niagara Falls), includes Shaw's Pygmalion (directed by Maxwell) and Man and Superman (directed by Neil Munro), both on the Festival Theatre stage; Canadian playwright George F. Walker's Nothing Sacred, based on Turgenev's "Fathers and Sons" (directed by Morris Panych) at the Festival; George Abbott and John Cecil Holm's Three Men on a Horse (directed by Jim Mezon) at the Festival; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins (directed Eda Holmes) at the Court House Theatre; Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey (directed by Alisa Palmer) at the Royal George; Canadian playwright John Murrell's World War II homefront drama, Waiting for the Parade at the Royal George; Eugene O'Neill's warmhearted family comedy-drama, Ah, Wilderness! (directed by Joseph Ziegler) at the Court House.

Including previews, the 2004 Shaw Festival season runs in repertory April 2-Dec. 4.

Also presented will be the lesser-known:

  • Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby, a 1912 play by the Edwardian woman playwright. The work is "a brave and passionate play about the terrible power a paternal bully can wield over his family." Maxwell directs at the Court House.
  • The Tinker's Wedding, by J.M. Synge, a 1903 one-act comedy about a mercenary country priest who drives a hard bargain for an itinerant gypsy couple that wish to be married. Synge is best known for The Playboy of the Western World, produced at The Shaw in 1996 and 1997. Performances play the Court House.
  • Terrence Rattigan's Harlequinade, a 1948 one-act farce about an aging actor-manager and his wife, who persist in playing Romeo and Juliet. English playwright Rattigan is particularly known for his plays The Winslow Boy, Separate Tables and Ross. Neil Munro directs at the Royal George. Regular ticket prices for the 2004 season range from $42 to $77 (Canadian). For special matinees, student prices will be $20 and senior prices will be $30. Lunchtime ticket prices are $20.

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