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The Charity that Began at Home: A Comedy for Philanthropists begins previews

- Fiona Reid heads cast directed by Artistic Director Emeritus Christopher Newton -

Newsroom Post #4

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (April 24, 2014)The Charity that Began at Home by St. John Hankin begins previews Friday, April 25 at the Court House Theatre. This production not only marks the return of Fiona Reid to The Shaw stage, but also the third time Artistic Director Emeritus Christopher Newton and designer William Schmuck have teamed up on a Shaw Festival production of a Hankin work. The creative team also includes lighting designer Louise Guinand.

An admired Edwardian contemporary of Shaw, and considered by director Newton to be “as perceptive as Noël Coward, as comic as Anton Chekhov”, Hankin’s The Charity that Began at Home is a rarely seen satirical gem that skewers the concept of do-good idealism, which was quite prevalent in the British upper class during the Edwardian era.

Under the influence of a non-conformist preacher Basil Hylton (Graeme Somerville), Lady Denison (Fiona Reid) and her daughter Margery (Julia Course) decide to host a country house party with a difference. Driven by the belief that true hospitality consists of entertaining those no one else would willingly have in their company, they deliberately assemble a menagerie of society’s disagreeable waifs and strays, which includes Hugh Verreker (Martin Happer), a young man of murky circumstance. Mrs. Eversleigh (Laurie Paton), Lady Margery’s skeptical sister joins the ranks of the disreputable and disagreeable and as the household dissolves into a state of chaos, questions arise about the legitimacy of the preacher and the meaning of true charity.

About The Charity That Began At Home: A Comedy for Philanthropists

The Charity That Began At Home, along with The Shaw’s The Return of the Prodigal (2001/2) and The Cassilis Engagement (2007), complete the cycle of plays called, with some irony, Three Plays with Happy Endings.

April 25 – October 11; Opening: May 10
The Charity That Began At Home: A Comedy for Philanthropists will be on stage at the Court House Theatre (26 Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake).


Fiona Reid as "Lady Denison" and Julia Course as <br><br> "Margery" in The Charity that Began at Home. <br><br><br>Photo by David Cooper.
Fiona Reid as “Lady Denison” and Julia Course as “Margery” in The Charity that Began at Home. Photo by David Cooper.

Neil Barclay
Donna Belleville
Andrew Bunker
Julia Course
Sharry Flett
Darcy Gerhart
Martin Happer
Stephen Jackman-Torkof
Jim Mezon
Laurie Paton
Fiona Reid
Graeme Somerville
Edmund Stapleton
Mr. Firket
Mrs. Horrocks
Miss. Triggs
Hugh Verreker
General Bonsor
Mrs. Eversleigh
Lady Denison
Basil Hylton

Creative Team:

Christopher Newton
William Schmuck
Louise Guinand
Beatrice Campbell
Ivory Neal
Lighting Designer
Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager

The Shaw Festival’s 2014 season began April 4, runs until October 26 and features 10 productions presented on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages. For more information on our 2014 season, performance schedule and ticket information, please visit www.shawfest.com or call 1-800-511-SHAW.


About the Shaw Festival

The Shaw Festival is a theatre company inspired by the work of Bernard Shaw. We produce plays from and about his era and contemporary plays that share Shaw’s provocative exploration of society and celebration of humanity.

For more information, or to acquire images, members of the media may 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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Fiona Reid as “Lady Denison” and Julia Course as “Margery” in The Charity that Began at Home. Photo by David Cooper.
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