The Shaw Festival 2017
by Mike Keenan
Artistic Director Tim Carroll's first season offers a mix of new faces and Festival favourites|
in this season's 11 productions.
The Festival Theatre stage is home to Michael Therriault's first Festival appearance as he joins Kristi Frank in this season's charming musical Me and My Girl. Sara Topham debuts at The Shaw alongside Gray Powell in Saint Joan. Tom McCamus returns to star in The Madness of George III. André Sills stars in An Octoroon, an edgy and timely exploration of race from one of America's hottest young playwrights.
ME AND MY GIRL Book and Lyrics by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber - Previews April 5 - Opens May 27 - Closes October 15 - A delightful comic romp from the 1930s follows the fortunes of Bill Snibson (Michael Therriault), a proud cockney who is amazed to learn he's actually the fourteenth Earl of Hareford. But if he wants to claim his title, he'll have to shed his old life - and love, Sally Smith (Kristi Frank).
SAINT JOAN By Bernard Shaw Previews May 3 - Opens May 25 - Closes October 15 - Sara Topham stars in Bernard Shaw's lyrical and poetic play about the most remarkable teenage girl in history. Considered either a divinely-inspired savior of France or a pathetically deluded country girl, Joan is bound to become an embarrassment to the male-dominated world she has turned upside-down. Festival mainstay Gray Powell joins Ms. Topham as Dunois, a military man and Joan's unlikely supporter.
DRACULA By Bram Stoker Adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead - Previews July 8 - Opens July 29 - Closes October 14 - Sexy, funny and scary, this red-blooded production stars Allan Louis in the title role. Liz Lochhead's stunning version of Bram Stoker's Gothic classic is all about repressed erotic hunger: in Victorian England, men are as terrified of female desire as they are of blood-sucking vampires. Lochhead's interpretation shifts the emphasis from the titular demon to the female characters: virtuous Mina (Marla McLean), flirtatious Lucy (Cherissa Richards) and sensible Florrie (Natasha Mumba). Attempting to protect the women from their blood-thirsty neighbor are the social-climbing Jonathan Harker (Ben Sanders) and the well-meaning Arthur Seward (Martin Happer).
COURT HOUSE THEATRE
1837: THE FARMERS' REVOLT - A play by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille - Previews May 7 - Opens May 27 - Closes October 8 - A handful of immigrant farmers struggle for years to turn Upper Canada's forests into farmland; now they are told that their land has been dished out to government cronies. With William Mackenzie as their leader, a band of desperate men and women march down Toronto's Yonge Street in an uprising that paved the way for nationhood. Produced in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary, 1837: The Farmers' Revolt, a modern Canadian classic, features Donna Belleville, Sharry Flett, Jonah McIntosh, Marla McLean, Ric Reid, Cherissa Richards, Travis Seetoo and Jeremiah Sparks.
ANDROCLES AND THE LION By Bernard Shaw - Previews June 6 - Opens June 24 - Closes October 7 - In ancient Rome, a group of early Christians wait to be thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. Some are more eager to be martyrs than others; the Romans just think they are all crazy. Shaw takes the fable of the man who pulled the thorn from the lion's paw as the starting point for one of his funniest plays. This revival will be a daring theatre experiment: everyone in the room - actors and audience - will have to the chance to get involved in an experience that will be different every time.
WILDE TALES Stories for Young and Old by Oscar Wilde, Adapted for the stage by Kate Hennig - Previews June 8 - Opens June 24 - Closes October 7 - Oscar Wilde's genius never blazed more brightly than in The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, The Remarkable Rocket and The Selfish Giant. In these tales, created to delight and inspire the child in each of us, he conjures a fantastical world in which statues, birds and even fireworks have the power of eloquent speech. Before each performance children can participate in a one hour workshop to help the actors create the magic on stage.
ROYAL GEORGE THEATRE
THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III By Alan Bennett - Previews April 11 - Opens May 26 - Closes October 15 - King George III may have been anointed by God, but when he starts to lose control of his speech and his bodily functions, it's clear that he's all too human. Tom McCamus returns to the Shaw Festival to star in this political comedy and touching love story.
DANCING AT LUGHNASA By Brian Friel - Previews May 14 - Opens June 23 - Closes October 15 - In the 1930s, five unforgettable women - Kate (Fiona Byrne), Rose (Diana Donnelly) Agnes (Claire Jullien), Christina (Sarena Parmar) and Maggie (Tara Rosling) - try to eke out an existence in Ireland, the land where no tears are without laughter, and no laughter is without tears. Each woman is filled with passionate longing: and yet they deal with it in their own, different ways - except when they are all equally possessed by the spirit of the dance, welling up from the buried, ancient powers of their native land. This Olivier and Tony award-winning play also features Patrick Galligan and Peter Millard.
AN OCTOROON By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins - Previews July 16 - Opens July 28 - Closes October 14 - When Dion Boucicault wrote The Octoroon in 1859 it was considered a masterpiece. Its story of a plantation owner falling for a woman of mixed race was taken as a bold plea for racial tolerance; now it seems embarrassingly racist. André Sills stars in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' radical response that compares attitudes to race then and now in the funniest and least comfortable theatre experience in years.
MIDDLETOWN By Will Eno - Previews July 13 - Opens July 30 - Closes September 10 - In the most average town in North America, a group of average people - including Mrs. Swanson (Moya O'Connell) and John Dodge (Gray Powell) - are living average lives of quiet desperation. And yet somehow, in the midst of all this isolation, the most basic human urge persists: the desire to matter to someone else. They may go about it in odd ways, but everyone in Middletown is looking for love.
1979 By Michael Healey In co-production with the Great Canadian Theatre Company - Previews May 20 - Opens June 25 - Closes October 14 - One of Canada's most celebrated playwrights takes on one of its least celebrated leaders. Joe Clark's (Sanjay Talwar) career as prime minister lasted barely longer than Michael Healey's razor-sharp new comedy. 1979 is a touching portrait of a politician who really wants to serve his country, but isn't willing to bend the rules to hold onto power.
Tickets for the 2017 Festival season will be available through the Box Office at 1-800-511-SHAW and online at
www.shawfest.com. The Shaw Festival's 2017 season goes on sale to Members on November 5 and the public on December 3.