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Stratford Festival 2019 playbill

By Keith Tomasek, August 17, 2018

The Stratford Festival 2019 playbill is out.

Opening the Stratford Festival 2019 season is Shakespeare’s “Othello,” directed by Nigel Shawn Williams. “I am delighted to have Nigel back to direct “Othello” next season after his beautiful interpretation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” this year,” said artistic director Antoni Cimolino.

Cimolino will direct the second Shakespeare, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” also on the Festival stage. “Shakespeare sets this rollicking comedy in a town we might all recognize – a place where small-town values and cosmopolitan influences converge, just as they do here in Stratford, Ontario,” says Cimolino.

Martha Henry will direct Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII.” It’s one of the few Shakespeares Henry has not performed at Stratford and a welcome production on the Stratford Festival 2019 playbill. Cimolino noted that “Martha will bring fresh insight to ‘Henry VIII'” adding “It was once seen as a play about pageantry but it seems to me that it has more to do with personal faith and the dynamics of a very complicated marriage – that of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.”

Their royal daughter, Mary I, known to history as Bloody Mary, is the focus of “Mother’s Daughter,” the dramatic conclusion of Hennig’s Queenmaker Trilogy commissioned by the Festival.

Conclusion of Hennig’s Queenmaker Trilogy

In “Mother’s Daughter” Mary grapples with her sister Elizabeth, her cousin Jane Grey and their shared regal inheritance.

Featuring the creative team that brought both “The Last Wife” and “The Virgin Trial” to the Stratford stage, “Mother’s Daughter” continues Hennig’s fascinating exploration of women and power and the nature of leadership seen through a compelling contemporary lens.

The Straford Festival 2019 playbill is built around a theme of ‘Breaking Boundaries.’

“In planning next year’s season, I began to think about breaking through boundaries – in terms of faith, identity or culture,” says Cimolino. “Boundaries help define who we are; they can either protect or confine us. Whether they’re imposed on us by others or we draw them ourselves, they represent the limits of what we think is acceptable, advisable or even possible. We need to know where they’re set in order to navigate our way in the world, but we also need to be able to break through them in order to realize our full potential.

Feore Returns to Direct Two Musicals

After critical praise from both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune wondering how long before Donna Feore jettisons Stratford and lands on Broadway Feore is returning to direct two musicals.

Billy Elliot the Musical” – a blockbuster with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and Elton John, winner of 10 Tony Awards and four Oliviers – is about the barriers families can build and, ultimately, the support they can offer, as one boy struggles with a talent his father and brother see as unacceptable because it challenges their view of masculinity.

Feore will also be directing and choreographing Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” at the Avon Theatre. Like “The Rocky Horror Show,”this cult hit is a send-up of science fiction and B movies. But at its core Little Shop is a touching story about longing for family and love.

Jillian Keiley returns to direct the Schulich Youth Play “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende, adapted for the stage by David S. Craig, who will be revising the script for this production. The 1984 film about a boy escaping his difficult reality and becoming a hero in a fantasy land became an instant classic.

“Jillian brought such joy and imagination to ‘Alice Through the Looking-Glass,” says Cimolino. “I cannot wait to see her work on this beautiful family play about the eternal issues of childhood – loss, bullying, low self-esteem – and ultimately triumph through creativity.

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The Complete Stratford Festival 2019 Playbill


May 3 to October 27 | Opening May 27
Read all the reviews here
Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams
Festival Theatre

The Merry Wives of Windsor
May 11 to October 26| Opening June 1
Read all the reviews here
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
Festival Theatre

Henry VIII
May 8 to October 12 | Opening May 29
Read all the reviews here
Directed by Martha Henry
Studio Theatre


Mother’s Daughter
May 18 to October 13 | Opening June 14
Read all the reviews here
By Kate Hennig
Directed by Alan Dilworth
Studio Theatre


Billy Elliot the Musical
April 16 to November 3 | Opening May 28
Read all the reviews here
Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall
Music by Elton John
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Festival Theatre

Little Shop of Horrors
April 29 to November 2 | Opening May 31
Read all the reviews here
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, Screenplay by Charles Griffith
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
The Avon Theatre


Birds of a Kind
July 30 to October 13 | Opening August 14
Read all the reviews here
By Wajdi Mouawad
English translation by Linda Gaboriau
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
English-language Première
Studio Theatre

The Crucible
August 1 to October 25 | Opening August 16
Read all the reviews here
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Jonathan Goad
The Avon Theatre

The Front Page
July 30 to October 25 | Opening August 15
Read all the reviews here
By Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
A new adaptation by Michael Healey
Directed by Graham Abbey
Festival Theatre

Nathan the Wise
May 25 to October 11 | Opening June 15
Read all the reviews here
By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
In a version by Edward Kemp
Directed by Birgit Schreyer Duarte
Studio Theatre

The Neverending Story
May 16 to November 3 | Opening June 15
Read all the reviews here
By Michael Ende
Adapted for the stage by David S. Craig
Directed by Jillian Keiley
The Avon Theatre

Private Lives
April 24 to October 26 | Opening May 30
Read all the reviews here
By Noël Coward
Directed by Carey Perloff
The Avon Theatre

Stratford Festival Reviews is an independent publication. We do not generate commissions, or any other revenue, from ticket sales.


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Stratford Festival 2019 playbill

Keith Tomasek
17 August 2018
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