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Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8:30 series started with previews of Brief Encounters at the Shaw Festival Theatre

Media Release #6

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, April 14, 2009… Still Life, We Were Dancing and Hands Across the Sea, three of the best known one-act plays from Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8:30, began preview performances in Brief Encounters on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at the Festival Theatre.  Directed by Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, this first triple bill in the Shaw Festival’s Coward cycle of ten one-act plays marks the start of a world premiere — the first time all ten plays have been presented together in repertory theatre history.    

Repressed love after a chance meeting at a train station; flaming passion from a single dance across the floor; mistaken identity following a passing holiday acquaintance – three different stories all inspired by three brief moments in time, come together to make up Brief Encounters.  This opening triplet of Coward’s Tonight at 8:30 cycle features three miniature delights only possible from the pen of Noël Coward and demonstrate the great range of his writing – from drama to comedy to music.

Initially conceived by Coward to revive the one-act play, Tonight at 8:30 also provided the opportunity for Coward to showcase his and his favourite actress, Gertrude Lawrence’s acting, singing, and dancing talents.  Staying true to Coward’s original idea, Deborah Hay, Patrick Galligan, Corrine Koslo and Thom Marriott perform multiple roles and show off their triple threat talents in this threesome of Coward short plays.  Brief Encounters also features Krista Colosimo, Gray Powell, Goldie Semple, Michael Ball, Prince Amponsah, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Beryl Bain and David Schurmann in multiple roles.

Brief Encounters has set and costumes designed by the Shaw Festival’s Head of Design, William Schmuck, lighting design by Head of Lighting Design Kevin Lamotte, musical arrangements and sound design by John Gzowski, projections by Adam Larsen, choreography by Valerie Moore.  The stage management team includes Production Stage Manager Judy Farthing and Assistant Stage Manager Amy Jewell.

Jackie Maxwell and William Schmuck’s previous collaborations include last season’s production of The Stepmother and Rutherford and Son in 2004.

Brief Encounters preview performances began on Saturday, April 11; opens Wednesday, May 20; and plays in repertory until Saturday, October 24.  Brief Encounters is sponsored by CIBC World Markets.

First presented in January 1935, the Tonight at 8:30 collection was completed, with the exception of Star Chamber, in May 1936.  Previously, the Shaw Festival had presented We Were Dancing, Family Album and Shadow Play in 1971.

For more information on this once in a lifetime presentation of Tonight at 8:30, please visit www.tonightat830.com.


Please visit our website at news.shawfest.com for other Shaw Festival media releases.

For more information, or to download images from our image bank to accompany this release, members of the media may contact:
Odette Yazbeck
Public Relations Director
(905) 468-2153 or
1-800-657-1106 ext. 222

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