Canada's Stratford Festival Starts 2004 Season April 20 with Frank Loesser Classic

News   Canada's Stratford Festival Starts 2004 Season April 20 with Frank Loesser Classic
The flags at the Stratford Festival in Ontario are unfurled April 20 for the first public performance of the 2004 season — the first preview of Guys and Dolls at the Festival Theatre.

Only festival members were invited to an earlier performance, April 17. The Frank Loesser classic about gamblers, cabaret girls, mission workers — and romance — heralds a typically diverse repertory season at Stratford that will include six plays by Shakespeare, three new adaptations, two Canadian world premieres and two musicals.

Based on the stories of Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls is "a musical fable of Broadway," telling a story of sin, salvation and the unlikely match between the world's most daring gambler (Sky Masterson, played by Scott Wentworth) and a strait-laced Salvation Army officer (Sarah Brown, played by Cynthia Dale).

The show also features Geordie Johnson as gambler Nathan Detroit and Sheila McCarthy as his sweetheart, Miss Adelaide. The show has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

The Stratford Festival production is directed by Kelly Robinson with assistant director Michael Waller. Choreography is by Michael Lichtefeld with associate choreographer Joe Bowerman and assistant choreographer Phillip Hughes.

Musical direction is by Berthold Carrière. The set and costume designer is Debra Hanson. Lighting design is by Kevin Fraser and sound design is by Peter McBoyle. Guys and Dolls also features Douglas Chamberlain as Arvide Abernathy, Patricia Collins as General Matilda B. Cartwright, Bruce Dow as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Barbara Fulton as Agatha, Nigel Hamer as Harry the Horse, David Hogan as the Drunk, Phillip Hughes as Calvin/Waiter, Grant Linneberg as Big Jule, George Masswohl as Lt. Brannigan, Marianne McCord as Mimi, Jimmy Spadola as Rusty Charlie/Joey Biltmore, Dayna Tekatch as Martha, Aaron Walpole as Angie the Ox/MC and Shawn Wright as Benny Southstreet, as well as Carla Bennett, Christine Donato, Michael Falcucci, Noah Henne, Adele Mackenzie Maybury, Chad McFadden, Jodi Lynn McFadden, Tammy Nera, Rhonda Roberts, Jason Sermonia, Julius Sermonia, Mike Tracz, Barrie Wood and swings Randy Ganne and Cindy Willems.

Guys and Dolls opens June 3 and plays in repertory until Nov. 7. For ticket information, call (800) 567-1600 or


Shakespeare has long been the foundation of the world renowned festival, and the 2004 season brings closer artistic director Richard Monette's goal of producing all of Shakespeare's works in his tenure. The 2004 season marks Monette's 10th season as artistic director.

In addition to Shakespeare's Macbeth (directed by John Wood) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (which have been seen in the past 10 years at Stratford), playgoers can expect the bard's Cymbeline, King John, Henry VIII and Timon of Athens.

Musicals have been a big draw for Stratford. Next season's Anything Goes is the Lincoln Center revision of the classic 1930s Cole Porter show. It will be staged on the proscenium Avon Theatre.

American audiences flock to musicals there (Stratford is within three hours of Detroit and within five hours of Ohio and western New York). The festival has staged British and Americans musicals and operettas, as well as Canadian written musicals like Dracula, but has not yet produced a Canadian-centric musical, such as Anne of Green Gables.

Brian Bedford, who has long had an artistic home at Stratford as a director and actor, will direct the Michael Frayn farce, Noises Off.

A Marshall Borden adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo will be presented at the Avon.

The Stratford Festival — founded by local resident Tom Patterson, who enlisted famed director Tyrone Guthrie to start a festival in the rural Ontario town — now sports four theatres: the 1,824-seat Festival, the Avon, the 487-seat Patterson and the 260-seat Studio.

In 2004, the festival will stage two new Canadian works: the third part of Peter Hinton's Swanne trilogy, titled The Swanne: Queen Victoria (The Seduction of Nemesis), as well as The Elephant Song by Quebec playwright Nicolas Billon.

The latter, directed by Jim Warren, is "an amazing play we've workshopped through our new play development program and the script is a real page-turner," Monette said in his announcement.

Also in the Studio will be The Triumph of Love, the festival's first-ever production of a work by 18th century French author Pierre Marivaux. Richard Monnette directs.


The Stratford Festival was represented on Broadway earlier this year with King Lear starring Christopher Plummer. The Jonathan Miller staging played Stratford in 2002 and was remounted with some changes at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. It closed April 18.

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