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Coward’s comic masterpiece begins previews today

“Everybody worships me, it’s nauseating.”

Media Release #9

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, May 3, 2012 . . . The classic comedy of Noël Coward returns to the Shaw Festival. Brimming with the renowned Coward wit and style, Present Laughter previews today at the Festival Theatre.  

Long-time Shaw Ensemble member and consummate Coward authority David Schurmann directs this Coward farce. Set in what now seems an innocent past, it depicts a time when being a famous actor could still be negotiated with suave sophistication and style, and where even those stalking the stars were well-bred, well-spoken and well-dressed. Steven Sutcliffe is Gary Essendine, the man at the head of an affectionate and intimate accidental family; that includes his estranged, but still caring wife, Liz Essendine (Claire Jullien); his long suffering assistant Monica Reed (Mary Haney), producer and friend Hugo Lyppiatt (Patrick McManus) and manager and friend Morris Dixon (Gray Powell). The Shaw’s production of Present Laughter also features Moya O’Connell as glamorous interloper Joanna Lyppiatt, Julia Course as the besotted young Daphne Stillington and Jonathan Tan as the aspiring playwright Roland Maule, with Corrine Koslo, James Pendarves and Jennifer Phipps.  

Garry Essendine is a successful matinee idol who sits in comfortable style at the centre of his own universe. While in the midst of planning his upcoming trip to Africa, Garry must, not only, contend with visits from a love-struck ingénue, an adulterous producer, a married seductress, his estranged wife, and a crazed young playwright, but, to his horror, the onset of middle age!

Present Laughter is designed by William Schmuck, with lighting design by Kevin Lamotte. The stage management team includes Production Stage Manager Alison Peddie and Assistant Stage Manager Annie McWhinnie.

No stranger to the stages of the Shaw Festival, Noël Coward’s Present Laughter was last seen at The Shaw in 1990 and featured Christopher Newton as Garry Essendine and Steven Sutcliffe as Roland Maule. In 2009, the Shaw Festival made repertory theatrical history when it presented all ten plays of Noël Coward’s Tonight at 8:30 series of plays in one season.

Present Laughter begins preview performances Thursday, May 3, opens Wednesday, May 23 and plays in repertory until Sunday, October 28. Present Laughter is generously sponsored by CIBC. 

The Shaw Festival’s 2012 season began April 10, runs until October 28 and proudly features 11 productions presented on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages. For more information on our 2012 season, performance schedule and ticket information, please visit www.shawfest.com.

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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/news  for other Shaw Festival media releases.

Image Bank
Our digital image bank features 300 dpi photographs of the 2012 season handbook photo illustrations, members of the Ensemble, photographs of our theatres, Bernard Shaw and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. To access our image bank, please contact:

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

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

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