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Sunday, September 25, 2022
Shaw casts unveiled: Classics dominate festival’s 2020 season

Mike Keenan

Special to The Lake Report

Shaw Festival artistic directo, Tim Carroll  is offering an eclectic theatre mix for the 2020 season.

Carroll is maintaining popular items such as Sherlock Holmes (“Sherlock Holmes And The Raven’s Curse”), projections designed by Cameron Davis, more Narnia (“Prince Caspian”) directed by Molly Atkinson, and associate artistic director, Kate Hennig, who stars in “Gypsy,” choreographed by Kimberley Rampersad, and last performed in 2005.

Gypsy’s music is directed by Paul Sportelli and features a strong cast that includes Andrew Broderick, James Daly, Kristi Frank, Kyle Golemba, Drew Plummer, Kiera Sangster, Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane, Jacqueline Thair, Jay Turvey, Kelly Wong and Jenny L. Wright. Inspired by the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, this should be a sure money-maker for Shaw.

Tom McCamus returns as well as longtime favourite Moya O'Connell (“Desire Under The Elms”), and former Shaw artistic director Jackie Maxwell will direct “The Playboy” of the Western World, (Moya O'Connell, Gray Powell), which has won multiple Tony Awards.

Bernard Shaw is relegated to a single play, “The Devil’s Disciple.”  Martin Happer plays scoundrel Richard Dudgeon and Eda Holmes directs.

Carroll introduces” Mahabharata,” a contemporary take on a Sanskrit epic that is more than 4,000 years old. It’s a gripping story of a family feud, an exploration of profound philosophical and spiritual ideas, directed by Ravi Jain.

Elizabeth Barrett and her cocker spaniel are added in the lunchtime show, “Flush” (Jeff Irving, Julie Lumsden, Drew Plummer and Jacqueline Thair), which features traditional romance, the complete opposite of this season’s exciting offering, “The Russian Play,” which I loved.

Stephen Sondheim’s darkly comic musical revue “Assassins” presents the nine men and women who have attempted to kill an American president.

Would-be assassins are Andrew Broderick as Giuseppe Zangara, Jason Cadieux as Samuel Byck, James Daly as John Wilkes Booth, Kristi Frank as Lynette Fromme, Kyle Golemba as John Hinckley and David Herold, Jeff Irving as the Proprietor, Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane as Emma Goldman, Jay Turvey as Charles Guiteau, Kelly Wong as Leon Czolgosz and Jenny L. Wright as Sara Jane Moore.

More heavy-duty material includes Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms” (Julia Course, Tom McCamus) and a continued examination of African-American racial tension with playwright Alice Childress’s “Trouble in Mind,” which follows “An Octoroon” (2017), “The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God” (2016), and “The Mountaintop” (2014).

Philip Akin directs David Alan Anderson, Neil Barclay, Patrick Galligan, Cameron Grant, Madelyn Kriese and Peter Millard.

“Charley's Aunt” at the 305-seat Royal George Theatre might prove to be the season sleeper given that it’s directed by Carroll and therefore enjoys a powerful cast, including last year’s star Mike Nadajewski, along with Neil Barclay, Rong Fu, Patrick Galligan, Claire Jullien, Marla McLean, Sarena Parmar and Ric Reid.

In partnership with Parks Canada, the company will also move slightly away from its theatres for “The History of Niagara,” a 30-minute production at Fort George.

The 2020 holiday season will  feature Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Molly Atkinson at the Royal George Theatre for its fourth year and a revival of “Me and My Girl,” directed by Ashlie Corcoran.

Carroll defines his 14 shows spread among its three Niagara-on-the-Lake theatres and, for the first time, Fort George as “a season of classics across the board: classic musicals, classic comedies, classic dramas.”

With Tourism Minister Melanie Joly’s recent $330,000 for Shaw Festival theatre upgrades for the purchase and installation of specialized audio equipment in the 856-seat Festival Theatre, Gypsy’s Everything's Coming up Roses seems an appropriate tune for Carroll.