The Stratford Festival Announces Casting for 2023 Season

The sun sets behind the Stratford Festival's Festival Theatre building. A Canadian flag blows in the wind on the roof of the building, a bright splash across the orange sky. In the foreground is a translucent image of Canadian actor Paul Gross, imposed over the image. He wears a collared white shirt and a black vest, with his hands clasped in front of his chest. The image is from the Festival's 2000 production of Hamlet, in which Gross played the title role.

As the sun sets on the 2022 season, preparations for 2023 are getting underway at the Stratford Festival. Creative teams for next year’s productions are coming into place and the casting department is busy confirming key roles for the season. Soon the workshops will be abuzz with artisans building the season’s sets, props and costumes.

“This is a bittersweet moment. We have just closed our 2022 season, which feels like something of a miracle,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “We feel enormous gratitude to our staff and company for the outstanding work they did to make this season come to life despite the many obstacles that Covid placed in our path. I was so proud of the work on our stages and all the efforts that made that work possible. And to our patrons, who returned to Stratford despite ongoing public health concerns, we are forever grateful. Now, we turn our thoughts to 2023 and hope today’s exciting news will entice even more theatre lovers to Stratford next season.” 

Programmed around a theme of Duty vs. Desire, next season features King LearRentMuch Ado About NothingLes Belles-SoeursMonty Python’s SpamalotA Wrinkle in TimeFrankenstein Revived, Grand MagicRichard IIWedding Band, Casey and DianaWomen of the Fur Trade, and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“Mark Twain once said that ‘history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.’ And so it gives us endless variations on recurring themes – themes that, since the dawn of drama, artists have explored on stage,” says Cimolino. “The works on our 2023 playbill all seem to me to reflect in some way the age-old tension highlighted anew by the challenges of the pandemic era: the tension between duty and desire. As we navigate a world reshaped by the past years, these plays may help clarify the importance of finding a balance between pursuing our own wants, needs and dreams and helping others fulfill theirs.”

Tickets for the 2023 season will go on sale to Stratford Festival members beginning November 6, 2022. Early-bird sales are open to everyone on Monday, December 12.

The events of The Meighen Forum will be announced at a later date.

The Stratford Festival is proud to be partnered with BMO Financial Group and RBC for the 2023 season.


Festival Theatre

Support for the 2023 Festival Theatre season is generously provided by Daniel Bernstein and Claire Foerster.

King Lear

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kimberley Rampersad
April 24 to October 29 | Opens May 30, 2023

Support for King Lear is generously provided by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Twenty-three years after playing Hamlet in the memorable 2000 production, acclaimed Canadian actor Paul Gross will return to the Festival Theatre stage in 2023 to play the titular character in King Lear. He will be joined by Michael Blake as Edmund, Déjah Dixon-Green as Regan, Anthony Santiago as Gloucester, Tara Sky as Cordelia, and Gordon Patrick White as the Fool.

The cast also includes Austin Eckert as the King of France, Devin MacKinnon as Oswald, and Rylan Wilkie as the Duke of Cornwall, alongside Allison Edwards-Crewe, John Kirkpatrick, and Josue Laboucane.

King Lear is directed by Kimberley Rampersad, with set design by Judith Bowden, costume design by Michelle Bohn, and lighting design by Chris Malkowski. Rounding out the creative team are composer Sean Mayes and sound designer Miquelon Rodriguez.

Perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, King Lear is the story of an ageing king who demands a show of devotion from his three daughters. His actions leave his kingdom divided, his family destroyed, the faithful banished and the hateful left to wreak inhuman havoc in the realm.

Rent

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Thom Allison | Choreographed by Marc Kimelman | Music Direction by Franklin Brasz
April 8 to October 28 | Opens June 2, 202
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Jonathan Larson’s moving and evocative musical Rent will feature Andrea Macasaet as Mimi Marquez, Robert Markus as Mark Cohen, and Kolton Stewart as Roger Davis.

Jahlen Barnes will take on the role of Benjamin Coffin III, with Nestor Lozano Junior as Angel Dumott Schunard and Erica Peck as Maureen Johnson. Rounding out the cast is Nick Dolan as Gordon, Kelly Holiff as Mark’s mom, Celeste Catena, Christine Desjardins, Masini McDermott, and Danielle Verayo.

Rent will be directed by Thom Allison, with choreography by Marc Kimelman and Franklin Brasz as music director. The production will feature set design by Brandon Kleiman, costume design by Ming Wong, lighting design by Michael Walton, and sound design by Joshua Reid.

Set in Manhattan in the 1990s and inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, the musical follows a group of young East Village artists, performers, and philosophers as they struggle through the hardships of poverty, societal discord, and the AIDS epidemic in the search for life, love, and art. With a song list that includes the iconic “Seasons of Love,” Rent tells a story as relevant today as when it took Broadway by storm more than 25 years ago.

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare | Additional text by Erin Shields
Directed by Chris Abraham
May 29 to October 27 | Opens June 16, 202
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Support for Much Ado About Nothing is generously provided by Priscilla Costello; John and Therese Gardner; the Harkins and Manning families, in memory of Jim and Susan Harkins; the Jentes Family; and by Dr. Desta Leavine, in memory of Pauline Leavine.

One of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, Much Ado About Nothing will feature Graham Abbey and Maev Beaty as Benedick and Beatrice, the two quick-witted, sarcastic, and happily single individuals. Despite their choices, their friends believe they would make a great romantic match, resulting in the fun and fiery tale loved by audiences around the world.

Playing alongside the warring duo are Michael Blake as Don John, Austin Eckert as Claudio, Allison Edwards-Crewe as Hero, and Anthony Santiago as Antonio.

The cast also features Déjah Dixon-Green (Margaret), John Kirkpatrick (Verges), Kevin Kruchkywich (Seacoal), Josue Laboucane (Dogberry), Cyrus Lane (Conrade), Devin MacKinnon, Gordon Patrick White (Friar Francis), Rylan Wilkie (Balthasar), and Micah Woods (the Messenger).

The production is directed by Chris Abraham, working with designer Julie Fox, lighting designer Arun Srinivasan, and composer and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne.

Set in the Early Modern world, an era of ever-changing attitudes towards marriage and power, the play presents a society at once filled with progressive feminist impulses and countervailing forces rooted in traditional patriarchal values. With his astonishing wit and insight, Shakespeare explores the complexities that underlie these growing social tensions.

Les Belles-Soeurs

by Michel Tremblay | Translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco
Directed by Esther Jun
August 8 to October 28 | Opens August 25, 2023

Support for Les Belles-Soeurs is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska; Cathy and Paul Cotton; Jane Fryman Laird; Dr. Robert J. and Roberta Sokol; and Jack Whiteside.

Michel Tremblay’s beloved comedy Les Belles-Soeurs will feature Seana McKenna as Rose Ouimet, and Lucy Peacock as Germaine Lauzon, with Diana Leblanc as Olivine Dubuc.

The cast also includes Joella Crichton (Yvette Longpre), Déjah Dixon-Green, Allison Edwards-Crewe (Pierrette Guerin), Antonette Rudder, and Tara Sky (Ginette Ménard).

Directing the production is Esther Jun, with set design by Joanna Yu, costume design by Michelle Bohn, lighting design by Louise Guinand, and sound design and composition by Maddie Bautista.

Germaine Lauzon has won a million stamps in a contest. She invites her family and neighbours into her kitchen to help paste them into booklets. Fighting for any power in their suffocating lives, the women yell, backstab, dream, and steal in grand theatrical style. Les Belles-Soeurs portrays 15 Québécois women expressing their anger, desperation, and frustration loudly, rudely, and audaciously.


Avon Theatre

Monty Python’s Spamalot

Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle | Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail
From the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin
Directed by Lezlie Wade | Choreographed by Jesse Robb | Music Direction by Laura Burton
April 19 to October 28 | Opens May 31, 2023

Monty Python’s Spamalot is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

Jonathan Goad returns to the Festival in 2023 to play King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot. He will be joined in this uproarious musical by Eddie Glen as Patsy, Aaron Krohn as Sir Lancelot, Trevor Patt as Sir Robin, Jennifer Rider-Shaw as the Lady of the Lake, and Liam Tobin as Sir Galahad.

The production also features Carla Bennett, Devon Michael Brown, Amanda De Freitas, Aidan deSalaiz (Sir Bedevere), Josh Doig, Evangelia Kambites, Bethany Kovarik, Ayrin Mackie, Anthony MacPherson (swing), Heather McGuigan (swing), Kyla Musselman, and Jason Sermonia.

This sublimely silly musical will be directed by Lezlie Wade with choreographer Jesse Robb, designer David Boechler, music director Laura Burton, lighting designer Renée Brode, sound designer Emily Porter, and projection designer Sean Nieuwenhuis.

Spamalot offers up a hefty share of irreverence in a hilarious spoof of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they go in search of the Holy Grail. This outrageous comedy allows audiences to look at their flaws and foibles and in doing so, allows them to laugh at the things that make us human.

Schulich Children’s Plays

A Wrinkle in Time

a World Première Adaptation
by Madeleine L’Engle | Adapted for the stage by Thomas Morgan Jones
Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones
May 18 to October 29 | Opens June 17, 2023

Support for A Wrinkle in Time is generously provided by The Schulich Foundation.

Thomas Morgan Jones’s imaginative new adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time will feature Celeste Catena as Meg Murry. Kim Horsman will play Mrs. Which, with Nestor Lozano Junior as Mrs. Whatsit and Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah in the role of Mrs. Who.

The cast also features Jahlen Barnes, Aidan deSalaiz, Christine Desjardins, Nick Dolan, Kelly Holiff, Evangelia Kambites, Robert Markus (Calvin O’Keefe), Masini McDermott, Erica Peck, Jennifer Rider-Shaw, and Liam Tobin.

The creative team includes director Thomas Morgan Jones, set designer Teresa Przybylski, costume designer Robin Fisher, lighting designer Kimberly Purtell, composer and sound designer Deana H. Choi, and projection designer jaymez.

In this beloved family story, a young heroine leads her brother and a friend on a spectacular journey through space and time, from galaxy to galaxy, to save the world and rescue her father who mysteriously disappeared while working on an astounding scientific concept.

Frankenstein Revived

a World Première
by Morris Panych | Music by David Coulter
Based on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
Directed by Morris Panych | Music Direction by David Coulter | Movement Choreography by Wendy Gorling | Dance Choreography by Stephen Cota
August 6 to October 28 | Opens August 24, 2023

Support for Frankenstein Revived is generously provided by The Fabio Mascarin Foundation; Jody and Deborah Hamade; and Martie and Bob Sachs. Support for the creation of Frankenstein Revived is generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.

The thrilling new dramatic movement piece Frankenstein Revived will feature Charlie Gallant as Doctor Frankenstein, Laura Condlln as Mary Shelley, and Marcus Nance as the Creature.

The ensemble includes Sean Arbuckle, Carla Bennett, Devon Michael Brown (Henry Clerval), Amanda De Freitas, Josh Doig (swing), Mateo Galindo Torres, Eddie Glen, Bethany Kovarik (swing), Aaron Krohn, Ayrin Mackie, Anthony MacPherson, Heather McGuigan, Kyla Musselman, Trevor Patt, and Jason Sermonia. 

Directed by Morris Panych, the creative team includes music director David Coulter, movement choreographer Wendy Gorling, dance choreographer Stephen Cota, set designer Ken MacDonald, costume designer Dana Osborne, and lighting designer Kimberly Purtell.

Focussing on Mary Shelley, who at just 18 wrote the most celebrated horror story in English literature, this exuberant and passion-filled theatrical movement-based piece explores the big question at the heart of her work: what does it mean to be human?


Tom Patterson Theatre

Grand Magic

a World Première Translation
by Eduardo De Fillipo | In a new translation by John Murrell
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
May 6 to September 29 | Opens June 3, 2023

Support for Grand Magic is generously provided by Robert and Mary Ann Gorlin; Dr. M.L. Myers; Cathy and John Phillips; and Sylvia Soyka.

Festival favourite Geraint Wyn Davies returns to the Festival to play Otto Marvuglia in Eduardo De Filippo’s dark comedy Grand Magic, in a new translation by John Murrell. The world première of John Murrell’s translation will feature Sarah Orenstein as Zaira Marvuglia.

The cast also includes David Collins (Arturo Recchia), Sarah Dodd (Signora Marino), Jordin Hall (Mariano D’Albino), Kim Horsman (Matilde), Stephen Jackman-Torkoff (Roberto Magliano), Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah (Signora Locascio), Andrew Robinson, and Steve Ross (Gervasio Penna).

The Stratford Festival’s Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino will helm the production. The creative team includes set designer Lorenzo Savoini, costume designer Francesca Callow, lighting designer Lorenzo Savoini, and composer Wayne Kelso.

This funny, thought-provoking and deeply moving play will be presented in a new English translation by John Murrell. In it, we find Otto Marvuglia, a once master illusionist, reduced to performing magic for money at a seaside resort. When one of his tricks seems to go awry, a guest tumbles into a world of illusion as another escapes an unhappy reality.

Richard II

by William Shakespeare | Adapted by Brad Fraser | Conceived by Jillian Keiley
Directed by Jillian Keiley | Choreographed by Cameron Carver
May 23 to September 28 | Opens June 17, 2023

Support for Richard II is generously provided by The Westaway Charitable Foundation.

Stephen Jackman-Torkoff will take on the title role in this revolutionary new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II by Brad Fraser. The production will be directed and conceived by Jillian Keiley.

Set to play alongside Jackman-Torkoff is David Collins as John of Gaunt, Jordin Hall as Bolingbroke, and Sarah Orenstein as Helen Percy, Earl of Northumberland.

The cast also includes Sarah Dodd (Lady Scroope), Mateo Galindo Torres, Charlie Gallant (Lord Willoughby), Marcus Nance (Abbot of Westminster), Andrew Robinson (Sir John Bushy), Steve Ross (Bishop of Carlisle), and Danielle Verayo.

The production will be choreographed by Cameron Carver, with set design by Michael Gianfrancesco, costume design by Bretta Gerecke, and lighting design by Leigh Ann Vardy.

This is the story of a king who believes that God gives him the right to live above the rules and who ultimately suffers the consequences. The adaptation is set in a time of new-found freedom that is soon crushed – the late 1970s and early ’80s: when lives were lived at great volume against a suffocating strain of conservatism and fear. Fraser’s adaptation uses Shakespeare’s text for Richard II while drawing from other Shakespeare works as well.

Wedding Band

by Alice Childress
Directed by Sam White
June 20 to October 1 | Opens July 14, 2023

Support for Wedding Band is generously provided by Peter and Carol Walters.

Cyrus Lane and Antonette Rudder will play the leading couple, Herman and Julia, in Alice Childress’s Wedding Band, directed by Sam White. They will be joined by Maev Beaty as Annabelle and Lucy Peacock as Herman’s Mother.

The cast also features Joella Crichton (Lula Green), Kevin Kruchkywich (the Bell Man), and Micah Woods (Nelson).

The creative team includes set designer Richard Morris, costume designer Sarah Uwadiae, lighting designer Kathy Perkins, composer Beau Dixon, and sound designer Debashis Sinha.

This stellar work, written with great precision and powerful storytelling, gives an emotional portrayal of a relationship between a Black seamstress, Julia, and a white baker, Herman, in the shadow of the First World War and the 1918 flu epidemic in Charleston, South Carolina. The couple’s deep love and commitment face the cruel racism of the Deep South in a revealing portrayal of interracial love. They are forced to navigate the societal racism of laws and culture, along with heartbreaking judgment from their own families and communities.


Studio Theatre

Casey and Diana

a World Première | Stratford Festival Commission
by Nick Green
Directed by Andrew Kushnir
May 23 to June 17 | Opens June 1, 2023

Production support for Casey and Diana is generously provided by Alan Rowe and Bryan Blenkin, and by three donations from the Schubert family. Support for the creation of Casey and Diana is generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.

Nick Green’s moving new play Casey and Diana features Sean Arbuckle as Thomas, Laura Condlln as Pauline, Krystin Pellerin as Diana, and Sophia Walker as Vera.

The creative team includes director Andrew Kushnir, designer Joshua Quinlan, lighting designer Louise Guinand, and composer and sound designer Debashis Sinha.

Casey and Diana is set in 1991, as the Toronto AIDS hospice, Casey House, prepares for the historic visit of Diana, Princess of Wales. This potent and moving drama vividly captures a moment in time when a rebel Princess, alongside less famous caregivers and advocates, reshaped the course of a pandemic – and how those stricken by the virus found hard-won dignity, community, and love in the face of astonishing hardship.

Women of the Fur Trade

by Frances Koncan
Directed by Yvette Nolan
July 8 to July 30 | Opens July 15, 2023

Support for Women of the Fur Trade is generously provided by Karon C. Bales and Charles E. Beall.

Frances Koncan’s funny and insightful play Women of the Fur Trade will feature Jenna-Lee Hyde as Cecilia, with Keith Barker as Louis Riel and Nathan Howe as Thomas Scott.

It will be directed by Yvette Nolan with set designer Samantha McCue, costume designer Jeff Chief, and lighting designer Michelle Ramsay.

It is set in eighteen hundred and something-something, somewhere upon the banks of a Reddish River in Treaty One Territory. There, three very different women with a preference for 21st-century slang sit in a fort sharing their views on life, love and the hot nerd Louis Riel. This lively historical satire of survival and cultural inheritance shifts perspectives from the male gaze onto women’s power in the past and present through the lens of the rapidly changing world of the Canadian fur trade.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Pasyk
August 23 to October 1 | Opens September 9, 2023

Support for the production of Love’s Labour’s Lost is generously provided by the Tremain Family. The appearance of members of the Birmingham Conservatory in Love’s Labour’s Lost is generously supported by The Marilyn and Charles Baillie Fund and by Alice and Tim Thornton.

The creative team for this beloved early comedy features director Peter Pasyk, set designer Julie Fox, lighting designer Arun Srinivasan, and composer and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne.

The cast will be announced at a later date.


Casting for the 2023 Stratford Festival is ongoing, and Intermission will be updating this article as new information becomes available. For more information, please visit the Stratford Festival’s website.


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Written By

Jessica is an Associate Editor at Intermission, as well as a writer, classically-trained actor, and plant enthusiast. Since graduating from LAMDA in the UK with her MA in acting, you can often find her writing screenplays and short plays in the park, writing extensive lists of plant care tips, or working on stage and screen (though she uses a stage name). Jessica freelances with various companies across Canada, but her passion lies in working with theatre artists and enthusiasts.