Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Insight on the Season

Last night we attended the Stratford and Area Bed and Breakfast Associations Spring Social.
It was a lovely evening hosted by the local restaurant "Pan Tapas & Grill," but the highlight of the evening were the guests of honor. The Festival Theatre House Manager Stephen Barber and Festival Actor Bruce Dow gave us a wonderful insight on what to look forward to in the upcoming season. Mr. Barber started off the discussion by saying he wasn't much of a speaker and that he would talk first because once Bruce got started he wouldn't get a word in. He went on to share many comical antidotes about his thirteen years working with the festival, but the thing I wanted to share with all of you was what he said about this years production of "Kiss Me Kate" Barber called this show "a valentine to theatre" He went on to explain that anyone who has ever been involved in amateur or community theatre groups will relate with the antics that are portrayed in this play. In his opinion this is one of the must see productions this season.
For the few of you that don't know him, Bruce Dow has been an actor with the Festival for eleven seasons. Many will remember him for his more recent roles in "Cabaret" and "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum." Last year Dow had to pull out of the production of "Funny Thing." There have been a lot of stories circulating about the how and why this happened but he wanted to clear the air. Dow explained that it was a combination of things. First he injured his knees during the rehearsal process, then early in the run he contracted pneumonia which ultimately resulted in a paralyzed vocal chord. Fortunately his voice has returned and the Festival has asked him to return this season. This year Dow will be performing in the production of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" This show was done by the festival in the past, but unlike the previous production which he described as being quite dark he says this years production is going to be a blast. Dow also explained that a few years ago people were beginning to say that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival needed a change. Having been an actor both under Richard Monetts direction and the current artistic director Dow stated that we got that change in the form of a Tasmanian Devil named Des. (As a side quip Mr McAnuff made a brief impromptu appearance at the event as well)
Dow went on to explain that the La Joya playhouse has been an internationally renowned playhouse for many years and that Stratford is quickly gaining that same kind of international reputation. He went on to note that although McAnuffs productions of Shakespeare have been met by mixed reviews in the past this years production of "As You Like It" will show you what McAnuff is all about. He went on to explain that it will be an exciting season due to the fact that the directors of both major musicals this year are both Tony Award nominees and winners. Finally Dow described the production of "The Tempest" staring Christopher Plummer as glorious, stunning and magical.
With endorsement like these I am even more excited about the upcoming season, I hope you are as well.
As a side note, we have invited Stephen and Bruce to our home for an East Indian dinner, we will keep you posted.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Des McAnuff Documentary

Last night we had the pleasure to attend a documentary based on a year in the life of the Stratford Shakespeare Festivals Artistic Director, Des McAnuff. What an amazing man. With personal theatrical triumphs like "Tommy" and "Jersey Boys" under his belt, we in Stratford should consider ourselves very lucky to have him at the helm of our local theatre.

Check out the following links to get a taste of what we are talking about.

A Life in Stages -1
A Life in Stages -2

Delicious Stratford – a culinary celebration of Spring

There are two things that we love great theatre and great food.
Well most people know that Straford has great theatre, but if you are planning a visit rest assured the food will not disappoint. It doesn't matter if you are looking for high end, or cheap and cheerful Stratford has a great selection of restaurants to satisfy every taste and budget.

This spring the local Tourism Association is promoting "Delicious Stratford." During the months of May and June you can enjoy prix fixe menu selections at several local restaurants. These menus are well priced and sure to please.

For more information please check out this link:
Delicious Stratford
Food in Stratford is a wonderful thing.

Locals Know - Kiss Me Kate

This is the first entry in what we will call our "Locals Know" series.
We hope to give you an insight with our opinions of the Shakespeare Festivals productions as we see them.

Two weeks ago we had the pleasure to attend the first preview performance of the production of "Kiss Me Kate" and what a spectacular start to the season. This show is yet another Cole Porter masterpiece that is sure to entertain. For those of you that aren't theatre junkies the "play within a play" concept might be a little confusing, but once you wrap your head around it you'll love the story. The cast is extremely strong and although we saw the play in it's infancy we think it will only continue to grow and get stronger and stronger. We will defiantly go back to see this one again.
The costumes are very fun but for us it was Chilina Kennedy that stole the show. Last year Chilina played Maria in "West Side Story" and the blonde tart in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum." This year Chilina will perform in both "Kiss Me Kate" and the lead in "Evita" In this play she plays a ditsy actress and you can't help but love her antics. It will be a great contrast to see her switch to the poised Eva Perone one a daily basis. Chilina is a true rising star and we feel everyone should take the opportunity to see her now as she is defiantly going places.
The other thing that really struck us about this production was the dancing. Coming from a dance background I can say that all too often musicals offer pretty fluff in terms of dance numbers, but as we saw last year in "West Side Story" this isn't the case in Stratford. These actors are really hoof'n and the "Too Darn Hot" number that opens the second act is just that, HOT!
So in closing we will say enjoy the show, because we certainly did.

Check out this production clip.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Rite of Spring

It is official spring has sprung in Stratford.
It was a beautiful day for the 2010 annual Swan Release.
Locals and Tourists aligned the street to great our majestic birds as they were piped back down to the Avon River after spending the winter in their cozy paddock. It was great to see both the excitement of the birds and the people to thinking yes it is time to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of the town we call home.
Stratford seems to be buzzing as seasonal preparations have begun for what promises to be another exciting season at the Shakespeare festival. We look forward to seeing old friends return and new friends who will join us for the first time.
Happy Spring to all and we look forward to seeing you soon.