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.