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Shaw Festival announces 2012 season

Media Release #30

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, September 20, 2011 . . . Looking ahead to the next 50 seasons of theatrical exploration, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell officially announced the playbill for the Shaw Festival’s 51st season today.

The Shaw Festival’s 2012 season proudly features 11 productions presented on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages, and includes a compelling contemporary musical, two productions by the Festival’s namesake, a newly discovered Githa Sowerby play and much, much more. Impressive too is the list of directors, several of whom are members of the Shaw’s renowned acting Ensemble. Now deep into finalizing the casting for this rich season, Ms. Maxwell commented: “I feel strongly that we are striding into our next half century full of energy, ideas and the means to initiate a whole new series of important theatrical conversations.”

Two Shaw Festival premieres and a Coward on the Festival Theatre stage

The Shaw Festival presents Ragtime, the celebrated Tony Award-winning adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s ground-breaking novel. Directed by Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, the Terrence McNally/Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty musical epic traces the roots of 20th century America through the complex stories of three very different families. “A fascinating and celebrated piece when it was first produced in Toronto in 1996, Ragtime’s themes and ideas are even more timely today and it is thrilling to be able to explore and re-present them here at The Shaw,” stated Ms. Maxwell.

Also making its Shaw Festival premiere is His Girl Friday by John Guare, a brilliant blending of the 1940 movie of the same name with its original source, The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. This screwball comedy, served with a sharp dash of politics and corruption, will be directed by Ensemble member Jim Mezon, who last directed 2008’s An Inspector Calls. Sharing the Festival Theatre stage is the classic Noël Coward comedy Present Laughter. Last seen at The Shaw in 1990, this new production continues the Festival’s ongoing celebration of this brilliant playwright and will be directed by Ensemble member David Schurmann.

Works by Shaw, Bernstein, Sowerby, Ibsen, Rattigan and Inge presented in the intimacy of the Court House and Royal George Theatres

At the Court House Theatre, music returns to the lunchtime with Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera on love and longing in American 1950’s suburbia. Following his success directing the musical reading of Trouble in Tahiti in 2010, Ensemble member Jay Turvey makes his directorial debut at the Shaw Festival with this season’s jazzy lunchtime treat.

The Court House Theatre playbill will continue The Shaw’s exploration of the works of British playwright Githa Sowerby. Alisa Palmer returns to direct Sowerby’s rarely performed 1914 play A Man and Some Women, a provocative story of a family driven apart by money. A Man and Some Women continues the successful archaeological programming that included The Shaw’s highly acclaimed 2004 production of Sowerby’s first full-length play Rutherford and Son and its 2008 production of The Stepmother. Also in the Court House Theatre, Ensemble member Blair Williams, director of The Shaw’s hit production The President, directs The Millionairess, Bernard Shaw’s madcap comedy centred on one of Shaw’s most glorious larger-than-life heroines Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga Fitzfassenden. A celebrated Shavian actor, The Millionairess marks Mr. Williams’ first directorial undertaking of a full-length Shaw play. The Shaw is also delighted to welcome back renowned actor and director Martha Henry. Ms. Henry will direct Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Ms. Henry last directed The Autumn Garden at The Shaw in 2005 and is thrilled to be bringing this classic Ibsen play to light in the Court House Theatre.

The season’s second Shaw offering, Misalliance, will be presented at the Royal George Theatre. After her directorial success with last season’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Associate Director Eda Holmes tackles Bernard Shaw’s comedy of the laws of sexual attraction and the difficulty of fitting them into marriage. Also at the Royal George Theatre, Kate Lynch returns to direct Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears, a sexy comedic romp set in the south of France and one of Rattigan’s longest running hits on the London stage. Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell continues her rich relationship with the work of William Inge with the domestic drama Come Back Little Sheba. Ms. Maxwell previously directed other Inge works Picnic and Bus Stop at The Shaw in 2001 and 2005, respectively, to critical acclaim.

One of Canada’s leading female playwrights continues new programming in the Studio Theatre

After a season of great success in the Studio Theatre with the staging of Topdog/Underdog and When the Rain Stops Falling, the focus shifts to a Canadian writer in 2012. Award-winning Quebec writer Carole Fréchette’s poignantly poetic Helen’s Necklace (Le Collier d’Hélène), translated and adapted by John Murrell, will be the next offering of contemporary Shavian work in the Studio.

Occurring throughout the year, the Play Development Program continues its dedication to the development and production of new plays that can sit alongside those of Shaw, Chekhov and Coward, as well as new adaptations and translations that convey classic stories in a contemporary way. Currently in development are plays by Erin Shields, Michel Marc Bouchard, John Murrell and Brendan Gall.

2012 season ticket on-sale dates to note:

Visa Infinite Cardholders can purchase tickets before the general public: December 3rd, 2011 to December 16th, 2011

  • Online, fax, mail, by phone and in-person

Members’ Special Priority Booking Period: November 5, 2011 to December 2, 2011

  • Telephone, in-person, online, fax and mail orders will be accepted beginning November 5 according to level of Membership.

General Public: January 9, 2012

  • Fax, mail and online beginning January 9
  • By phone and in-person beginning January 14

Visa Infinite is the official payment card of the Shaw Festival.


In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever-broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond.

Please visit our website at www.shawfest.com/the-news-room for other Shaw Festival media releases. 

Image Bank & B-Roll
Our digital image bank features 300 dpi photographs of this season’s productions, the 2011 Ensemble, as well as photographs of our theatres, Bernard Shaw and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Broadcast quality B-roll of our productions is also available.

To access our image bank or to have DVDs or Beta tapes delivered to you, please contact:

Odette Yazbeck 
Public Relations Director 
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2222

Jenniffer Anand
Public Relations Coordinator
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2224

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