If you’re reading this anywhere in the northeastern United States or Canada, it may surprise you to realize that it’s almost June. That’s right: the leaves have barely begun to bud, and the birds are pulling on their long underwear to sing — if you can even see sunrise through the drizzle.
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries….
But when I started contributing to this column, I promised regional bias. And in Canada, late May means one thing: the Stratford Festival launches its season!
Three Openings at Stratford
Stratford, Ontario is offering two stalwarts of the canon this year, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear, along with the less-staged King John.
The week kicks off on Monday, May 26 with the opening of Antoni Cimolino’s Lear. The production stars festival luminary Colm Feore in the title role. Evan Buliung and Brad Hodder square off as Edgar and Edmund, respectively, while Jonathan Goad (Kent) and Stephen Ouimette (Fool) the King’s side. His daughters are played by Sara Farb (Cordelia), Liisa Repo-Martell (Regan), and, in her festival début, Maev Beaty. It’s an exciting cast. (Full disclosure: I’m an acquaintance and a huge fan of Beaty.) The production will run until October 10th in the Festival Theatre.
Officially opening on Wednesday, May 28 is Tim Carroll’s King John. Tom McCamus heads up the cast as John, with Seana McKenna as Constance and Graham Abbey as the Bastard. I’m particularly excited about this production. King John is a play I have never seen staged, and I have my ticket already. I’ll see if I can post a review once I’ve seen it in June. At the Tom Patterson Theatre until September 20.
Finally, Saturday night sees the opening of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s set to be a lavish production at the Festival Theatre, under the direction of Chris Abraham. Stephen Ouimette gets top billing as Bottom, sharing the marquee position with Jonathan Goad and Even Buliung, who will be alternating in the roles of Oberon and Titania. The Festival will also be staging a “chamber” version of the play, with a much-reduced cast.
I’m issuing a special appeal to any TSS readers in attendance: take pictures! Openings are wonderfully over the top, and I would love to see which Canadian theatre greats turn up. I’m seriously hoping for something out of Slings and Arrows. If you have to ask what Slings and Arrows is, get thee to the interwebz, and enjoy!
“Using words that are only fit for the Bible”
Pittsburgh will see saltier language than found in its steel mills! Shakespeare in the Park will be putting on “Bring Your Own Bard” on May 26. Starting at 7:30 PM, professionals and amateurs alike will try their hands at Shakespeare’s most thrilling invective. By donation, $10 suggested. (www.pittsburghshakespeare.com)
Shakespeare turns Turk
Propeller Theatre’s all-male productions of The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are now playing in Istanbul. Do we have any readers in Turkey? I personally would love to hear how Istanbul audiences respond. Please sound off in the comments! (http://propeller.org.uk/productions/a-midsummer-nights-dream-and-the-comedy-of-errors/tour-dates)
Meanwhile, in Connecticut
Westport Country Theatre in Westport, CT will be launching their musical revue, “Sing for Your Shakespeare,” running June 3-22. The revue is original, directed by Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos. (http://www.westportplayhouse.org/calendar/view.aspx?id=2790)
Meet me in St. Louis
Tim Ocel and Bruce Longworth direct Jim Butz in Henry IV and Henry V, respectively. Young Hal made his début on May 17, while the campaign against France will open on May 24. The shows are going up in Forest Park. General seating is free, but premium seating can be reserved for $10-20. For more information, see www.sfstl.com.
That’s all for this week. Send us all your fabulous performance notices, tips, links to reviews, etc. We’d love to hear from you about anything performance-related. Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and [insert verb] us on [insert title of social media Rory hasn’t heard of yet]. If you really like what you see, you could even consider making a donation.