By Keith Tomasek, October 17, 2019
Casting for The Stratford Festival 2020 season has been announced.
With the opening of the new $68 million Tom Patterson Theatre, the Stratford Festival 2020 season is one of the most anticipated playbills in years.
Star of stage and screen Colm Feore makes his return to play the lead role in “Richard III.” Antoni Cimolino, the Festival’s artistic director, will direct the production in the Tom Patterson Theatre.
“Together we have the joyous opportunity to breathe vibrant life into a brand new theatre, a bespoke space unique in the world,” said Cimolino.
In addition to collaborating on “Richard III,” Feore and Cimolino also come together for Molière’s comedy “The Miser.” The pair had a similar collaboration in 2014 with “King Lear” and “The Beaux’ Stratagem,” both of which were huge hits that season.
Don’t miss my podcast with Colm Feore where we discuss his Lear and the challenges he faced playing Francis Archer in “The Beaux’ Stratagem.”
The Stratford Festival 2020 playbill is one of the most eclectic in recent years. Says Cimolino, “With four venues in full splendour, our season will allow all of our artists to stretch their creative muscles with everything from newly imagined classics – both Shakespearean and musical – to fascinating new plays, movement pieces, a brand new musical – even iambic pentameter improv.”
Stratford Festival 2020 Season
TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
By William Shakespeare
Colm Feore leads the all-star cast
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
May 6 to October 23 | Opens May 30
Colm Feore will return to the Festival for the first time in five years to play the psychopathic title role in “Richard III,” directed by Antoni Cimolino. This play holds great historical significance for the Festival as the first play ever performed under the tent back in 1953. Similarly, it will open the new Tom Patterson Theatre in 2020.
Feore was last seen at Stratford in 2014, playing the title role in Cimolino’s production of “King Lear,” one of the top-selling Shakespeare productions in the theatre’s history.
Feore will lead a powerhouse cast featuring Michael Blake as the Duke of Clarence, Ben Carlson as Lord Hastings, David Collins as Stanley, Martha Henry as the Duchess of York, Jessica B. Hill as Lady Anne, Seana McKenna as Queen Margaret, Lucy Peacock as Queen Elizabeth, Tom Rooney as Buckingham and Mike Shara as Catesby.
Also in the cast are: Marion Adler, Wayne Best, Jacklyn Francis, Andrew Iles, Ron Kennell, Qasim Khan, Alexandra Lainfiesta, Roy Lewis, Jamie Mac, Gordon Patrick White, Brigit Wilson and Mamie Zwettler.
By William Shakespeare
Seana McKenna and Jessica B. Hill lead the fun
Directed by Scott Wentworth
May 15 to October 24 | Opens June 11
“All’s Well That Ends Well” holds historical significance as it was the second play presented in the Festival’s inaugural season, and has been specially programmed to celebrate the opening of the Tom Patterson Theatre.
Helmed by Scott Wentworth, Shakespeare’s comedy of heartbreak and deception will feature Jessica B. Hill as Helena and Seana McKenna as the Countess of Rossillion.
Hill, a graduate of the Festival’s Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, has recently played such leading roles as Emily in “Brontë: The World Without” and Antipholus of Syracuse in “The Comedy of Errors.” McKenna, a beloved Stratford veteran of 27 seasons, was last seen in 2018 playing the title role in “Julius Caesar” and Mary Tyrone in Long “Day’s Journey Into Night.”
They will be joined by Stratford veterans Ben Carlson, as the King of France, and Tom Rooney as Parolles.
Also in the cast are: Marion Adler, Wayne Best, Michael Blake, David Collins, Nicole Joy-Fraser, Qasim Khan, Ron Kennell, Alexandra Lainfiesta, Roy Lewis, Jamie Mac, Mike Shara and Gordon Patrick White.
Here’s What It Takes
Music and Lyrics by Steven Page, Book by Daniel MacIvor
Sean Arbuckle, Scott Beaudin, Dan Chameroy and Robert Markus play rock stars
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Additional music and lyrics by Craig Northey
June 5 to October 24 | Opens June 30
A roller-coaster ride of creative highs and living-the-life lows, this musical charts the journey of a fictional rock duo Walker and Rhodes, played by Chameroy and Arbuckle, respectively, with Beaudin as Young Walker and Markus as Young George.
Chameroy, doing double-duty this season in “Billy Elliot” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” is well-remembered as Frank N. Furter in 2018’s history-making production of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Markus, who played Riff Raff in “Rocky Horror” and the title role in “Tommy,” returns hot off his critically acclaimed performance in Toronto’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Arbuckle’s musical highlights include the leading roles of Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” and Julian Marsh in “42nd Street.” Beaudin made his Stratford debut as the Artful Dodger in 2006’s “Oliver!” and returned 13 years later to play Billy’s brother Tony in this season’s “Billy Elliot the Musical.”
Robin Hutton will play Carla, the band’s manager, and Vanessa Sears will play the band’s drummer, Angela.
Also in the cast are: Eric Abel, Gabriel Antonacci, Henry Firmston, Bonnie Jordan, Heather Kosik, Jordan Mah, Amanda Mattar, Chad McFadden, Chelsea Preston, Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Genny Sermonia.
By Morris Panych, based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Jonathon Young makes his Stratford debut as Doctor Frankenstein
Directed by Morris Panych
Music by David Coulter
Movement Choreographed by Wendy Gorling | Dance Choreographed by Stephen Cota
August 2 to October 22 | Opens August 20
Vancouver-based stage and screen star Jonathon Young makes his debut in the Stratford Festival 2020 season as Doctor Frankenstein, in the world première of Morris Panych’s intimate, intense and passion-filled synthesis of theatre and dance.
The pair recently collaborated on Panych’s production of “The Waiting Room” at the Arts Club Theatre. Young’s theatre credits also include several collaborative original productions at Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, which he co-founded.
Mary Shelley, the writer of the celebrated horror story, will be played by Laura Condlln, with Marcus Nance as the Monster.
Also in the cast are: Devon Michael Brown, Sandra Caldwell, Caryn Chappell, Colton Curtis, Amanda De Freitas, Rodney Diverlus, Bethany Kovarik, Allison McCaughey, Lily McEvenue, Jason Sermonia and Mateo Galindo Torres.
LAZARIDIS HALL AT
THE TOM PATTERSON THEATRE
An Undiscovered Shakespeare
A spontaneous theatre creation by Rebecca Northan, with Bruce Horak and Kevin Kruchkywich
Directed by Rebecca Northan
June 30 to September 18 | Opens July 13
In “An Undiscovered Shakespeare,” a spontaneous theatre creation by Rebecca Northan, with Bruce Horak and Kevin Kruchkywich, an audience member is invited to share their memory of first love. Then Northan and her brilliant team of improvisers – Ashley Botting, Ijeoma Emesowum, Bruce Horak, Kevin Kruchkywich and Lee Smart – turn that tale into a full-blown, five-act, faux-Shakespearean drama – created on the spot, in iambic pentameter, before your very eyes (and ears).
Each performance is a unique, never-to-be-repeated feat of theatrical virtuosity.
Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
Graham Abbey and Maev Beaty are reunited
Directed by Chris Abraham
May 7 to October 23 | Opens May 25
When it comes to trading witty insults, Beatrice and Benedick are foes worthy of each other’s steel – and their friends think they’d make a great romantic match, too.
This merrily warring duo opens the Stratford Festival 2020 season. Abbey and Beaty previously teamed up with Abraham for 2017’s “Tartuffe,” a production so popular that it moved on to Toronto after its Stratford run.
They will be joined by Kaleb Alexander as Claudio and Andrea Rankin as Hero.
Also in the cast are: Jakob Ehman, Bruce Horak, Kevin Kruchkywich, Josue Laboucane, André Sills, Michael Spencer-Davis and Norman Yeung.
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Chelsea Preston, Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Dan Chameroy star in a newly imagined Chicago
Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore
Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, Script adaptation by David Thompson
April 11 to November 1 | Opens May 26
Donna Feore’s reimagined production of “Chicago” – the first major production outside of New York and London in 30 years – will feature Dan Chameroy as shady lawyer Billy Flynn, with Chelsea Preston and Jennifer Rider-Shaw lighting up the stage as aspiring chorus girl Roxie Hart and vaudeville star Velma Kelly, respectively.
Preston, a Stratford newcomer, has most recently taken the lead at Drayton Entertainment, playing Sandy in “Grease” and the title role in “Cinderella: The Panto.” Returning for her 10th season, Rider-Shaw’s leading roles include Janet in “The Rocky Horror Show” and Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street.”
The cast also features Sandra Caldwell as matron Mama Morton and Steve Ross as Amos Hart, Roxie’s faithful husband.
Also in the cast are: Robert Markus, Eric Abel, Gabriel Antonacci, Devon Michael Brown, Colton Curtis, Amanda De Freitas, Henry Firmston, Bonnie Jordan, Heather Kosik, Bethany Kovarik, Jordan Mah, Amanda Mattar, Allison McCaughey, Lily McEvenue, Chad McFadden, Genny Sermonia, and Jason Sermonia.
By William Shakespeare
Amaka Umeh takes the title role in Hamlet
Directed by Peter Pasyk
April 23 to October 25 | Opens May 28
Amaka Umeh will make her Stratford debut in the Stratford Festival 2020 season in the title role of “Hamlet.”
Umeh joined the Festival this fall as a participant in the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. Her work on stages across Toronto, including Crow’s Theatre, Shakespeare in High Park and Young People’s Theatre, has earned her great acclaim, including the 2019 Dora Award for Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role for “The Wolves.” Umeh is a cross-gender actor and the first actor of color to play Hamlet at the Festival.
Umeh will be joined by Graham Abbey as Claudius, Kaleb Alexander as Laertes, Maev Beaty as Gertrude, Jakob Ehman as Horatio, Andrea Rankin as Ophelia and Michael Spencer-Davis as Polonius.
Also in the cast are: Ijeoma Emesowum, Bruce Horak, Kevin Kruchkywich, Josue Laboucane, André Sills and Norman Yeung.
Colm Feore returns for The Miser in a new version by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
August 2 to October 24 | Opens August 19
In addition to collaborating on Richard III, Colm Feore and Antoni Cimolino also come together for Molière’s great comedy “The Miser.” The pair had a similar collaboration in 2014 with King Lear and The Beaux’ Stratagem, both of which were huge hits that season.
Feore will play the title character, a paranoid old skinflint named Harper, with Jessica B. Hill as Marianne, the young woman he hopes to marry, Ron Kennell as Jack, Harper’s chauffeur-cum-cook, Qasim Khan and Alexandra Lainfiesta as siblings Charlie and Eleanor, Jamie Mac as Victor, the butler, Steve Ross as the Detective and Brigit Wilson as matchmaker Fay.
Also in the cast are: Wayne Best, Michael Blake, David Collins and Roy Lewis,
Wendy & Peter Pan
Adapted by Ella Hickson, from the book by J.M. Barrie
Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks and Jake Runeckles are Wendy and Peter Pan
Directed by Keira Loughran and choreographed by Allen Kaeja
April 24 to November 1 | Opens May 27
Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks and Jake Runeckles will play the title roles in “Wendy & Peter Pan,” the 2020 Schulich Children’s Play, directed by Keira Loughran and choreographed by Allen Kaeja. The production will mark the North American première of this imaginative retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic family story.
Edmonton-born Jimenez-Hicks will make her Stratford Festival debut during the Stratford Festival 2020 season. She is currently starring in the world première of “This London Life” at the Grand Theatre, and was recently seen in “The Party” at Citadel Theatre and “Girls Like That” at Tarragon Theatre.
Runeckles returns after his debut this season in another beloved adventure tale, “The Neverending Story,” in which he played Bastian, a role he will revisit this January when the production transfers to Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.
On their Neverland adventure, Wendy and Peter will encounter a wild cast of characters, including Captain Hook, played by Laura Condlln, and Tiger Lily, played by Tara Sky.
Also in the cast are: Carla Bennett, Caryn Chappell, Aidan deSalaiz, Rodney Diverlus, Josh Doig, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Ryan Gifford, Eddie Glen, Josh Graetz, George Krissa, Heather McGuigan, André Morin, Marcus Nance, Trevor Patt and Mateo Galindo Torres.
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
Jonathan Goad to play King Arthur
From the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Directed by Lezlie Wade | Choreographed by Jesse Robb
May 9 to October 25 | Opens May 29
A musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
After his searing portrayal of King Henry VIII in this season’s sold-out production of “Henry VIII,” Jonathan Goad returns to play a completely different monarch, King Arthur, in the Stratford Festival 2020 season. This marks Goad’s return to musical comedy having played Harold Hill in 2008’s “The Music Man.”
This sublimely silly musical, directed by Lezlie Wade, will also feature Eddie Glen as Patsy, George Krissa as Sir Galahad, André Morin as Prince Herbert, Trevor Patt as Sir Robin and Mark Uhre as Sir Lancelot.
Also in the cast are: Carla Bennett, Aidan deSalaiz, Josh Doig, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Ryan Gifford, Josh Graetz and Heather McGuigan.
By Hilary Mantel, adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton
Geraint Wyn Davies plays Thomas Cromwell, a central figure in the Tudor revolution
1Directed by ted witzel and Geraint Wyn Davies
July 28 to October 24 | Opens August 13
This is the Canadian première of “Wolf Hall” which premièred at Royal Shakespeare Company in 2013 before transferring to Broadway in 2015. The production was nominated for 8 Tony Awards, including Best Play.
Geraint Wyn Davies will play key roles on both sides of the stage, starring as Thomas Cromwell and co-directing with ted witzel.
The production will also feature Sarah Orenstein as Wolsey and André Sills as King Henry VIII.
Also in the cast are: Kaleb Alexander, Jakob Ehman, Josue Laboucane, Andrea Rankin, Jake Runeckles, Michael Spencer-Davis, Amaka Umeh and Norman Yeung.
Three Tall Women
By Edward Albee
Martha Henry, Lucy Peacock and Mamie Zwettler explore their relationships
Directed by Diana Leblanc
May 25 to September 27 | Opens June 12
In Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” a wealthy old woman, by turns acerbic, haughty, self-pitying and anguished, reminisces to two younger companions, sharing her past experiences in sometimes shocking detail.
The powerful trio of Martha Henry, Lucy Peacock and Mamie Zwettler will bring this great American classic to the stage, under the direction of Diana Leblanc.
Like the women portrayed, these artists share a long history. Friends and colleagues, Leblanc and Henry have worked together on numerous occasions, including “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “A Delicate Balance.”
Henry and Peacock also have a long collaborative history, with Peacock starring in several productions directed by Henry, including “All My Sons,” “Twelfth Night” and “Three Sisters.” Zwettler, who came through the Festival’s Birmingham Conservatory, made her impressive debut playing Miranda to Henry’s Prospero in “The Tempest” in 2018.
They will be joined by Andrew Iles as The Boy.
The Rez Sisters
By Tomson Highway
Jani Lauzon leads the cast of The Rez Sisters
Directed by Jessica Carmichael
July 21 to September 26 | Opens August 14
In Tomson Highway’s acclaimed drama “The Rez Sisters,” “the biggest bingo in the world” is coming to Toronto, and seven Indigenous women, all related by blood or marriage, are determined to win the jackpot.
Jani Lauzon – last seen at Stratford in the 2017 world première of Colleen Murphy’s “The Breathing Hole” – leads the extraordinary cast as Pelajia Patchnose.
She will be joined by Brefny Caribou as Zhaboonigan Peterson, Nicole Joy-Fraser as Veronique St. Pierre, Kathleen MacLean as Emily Dictionary, Cheri Maracle as Philomena Moosetail, Madison Walsh as Annie Cook and Michaela Washburn as Marie-Adele Starblanket.
The production, directed by Jessica Carmichael, will also include Justin Many Fingers as Nanabush.
The World Première of the Stratford Festival commission By Ann-Marie MacDonald
Mike Shara takes the lead in Hamlet-911
Directed by Alisa Palmer
Based on an idea by Alisa Palmer
August 5 to September 26 | Opens August 19
In “Hamlet-911,”Guinness Menzies has just landed his dream role: he’s playing “Hamlet” at the Stratford Festival. But just before a matinée performance, he suddenly finds himself in the Underworld, a realm as frightening as it is hilarious, where time is seriously out of joint.
Has he gone mad? Is he dreaming? Has he died?
Mike Shara, a long-time leading player at Stratford, will take on the lead role of Menzies.
You won’t believe how nervous Shara was the first time he performed iambic pentameter at the Stratford Festival. In our podcast, he explains how he overcame his feelings of inadequacy while rehearsing for his first appearance in a Shakespeare production.
Directed by Alisa Palmer, the production also features Amelia Sargisson as Sue, Scott Wentworth as Rex and Gordon Patrick White as Yorick.
Also in the cast are: Marion Adler, Eva Foote, Jacklyn Francis, Andrew Iles and Wahsonti:io Kirby.
For more information about the Stratford Festival 2020 season, visit stratfordfestival.ca. Tickets go on sale to the public on Jan. 3, 2020.