Announcing Fifth Anniversary Season

The Classic Theatre’s Festival’s fifth anniversary season of hits from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage promises a number of innovative additions while staging entertaining productions that will draw audiences from across Eastern and Central Ontario as well as the U.S. The Festival’s hugely popular Holiday Sale returns this year, whereby anyone can purchase a voucher before December 31 that entitles them to 20% off any ticket, with the freedom to pick their actual show dates closer to summer. The Festival’s summer season will open with Neil Simon’s Broadway debut, the uproariously funny “Come Blow Your Horn,” Simon’s comedic take on the swinging bachelor lifestyle of the early 1960s. The story of a ladies’ man who appears to tire of juggling girlfriends, and his younger brother who idolizes his sibling and wants to follow in his footsteps, the play features trademark Simon characters, from a pair of outrageous parents with unforgettable one-liners to a bubble-headed airline stewardess smitten with the hope of a Hollywood career, and a less than successful singer whose latest achievement is performing “Why Not Take All of Me” while dressed as a sausage. “Come Blow Your Horn” runs July 11-August 3. “This play really set the stage for what followed with Simon’s career,” says Artistic Producer Laurel Smith, who notes that audience requests for more Simon plays after the Festival’s 2013 hit production of “The Star-Spangled Girl” contributed to this choice. “This is an affectionate look at family, the tensions that arise when children do not meet parental expectations, and finding your way in a world of mixed messages about relationships. Just reading the play, we found ourselves laughing out loud, so you can imagine how much audiences will enjoy this once it’s up on the stage.” The Festival’s second show is a new direction for the company, one of the all-time great mystery thrillers, Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder.” Originally produced in 1952 and later turned into a classic Alfred Hitchcock film, the plot follows the dastardly plans of a has-been tennis player who arranges the murder of his wealthy wife. The intricacies of the scheme, the investigation by Scotland Yard, and the possibility that the plotter may be caught leave audiences on the edge of their seats. The New York Times called it “remarkably good theatre, tingling with excitement.” “Dial M for Murder” will run August 8-31. “Reading the play on paper is real page turner; seeing it on stage will be even more exciting,” says Smith. “Audiences will really enjoy this play, because it has all the elements that make up a good mystery, with a slow but steady build that, while working well on film, works even better live. Because audiences are so close to the stage, they feel like part of the action,” explains Smith. During 2014, the Festival will add an additional Thursday matinee, and shows will run Wed.-Sat, at 8 pm, with 2 pm matinees each Wed., Thurs., Sat. & Sun. Each matinee will feature… Continue reading

Canadian Theatre History Exhibit Extends its Run

“Now and Then: Found Treasures of Canadian Theatre History,” an exhibit that has been running all summer at the Perth Museum (Matheson House), is extending its successful run another month until November 4. The exhibit – a colourful journey through some significant periods in the post-World War II development of Canadian culture, as well as some remarkable pieces of Perth’s own theatrical history that go back almost a century – has been a big hit with tourists who toured the installation before and after shows at the Classic Theatre Festival this past summer. “We’ve had a lot of ‘wow’ moments from visitors who have really enjoyed this trip down Canada’s theatrical memory lane,” says Museum Curator Karen Rennie. “Where else in this neck of the woods can you see 1950s resume pictures of Christopher Plummer and William Shatner before they found international fame?” The exhibit was largely inspired by the lives of Canadian actors Bernard Behrens and Deborah Cass, both of whom worked in the early years of Stratford and CBC, touring North America with Canadian Players, playing summer stock, and performing at the Toronto Crest Theatre, Halifax’s Neptune Theatre, and the Shaw Festival. They were part of a generation whose faces many Canadians grew up watching both on stage and on TV shows such as The Forest Rangers and The Beachcombers, and many of those performers are featured in photographs and paintings at the Perth Museum exhibit. The Now and Then part of the exhibit focuses on original Canadian productions of shows that have been performed by the Classic Theatre Festival, from The Marriage-Go-Round and The Star-Spangled Girl (last summer’s lineup) to Bell, Book and Candle and The Fourposter. Visitors to the museum exhibit still have an opportunity to enjoy the sights of Stratford in the 1950s and 1960s, from the colourful playbills and season posters to original magazine stories about landmark moments in Stratford’s theatrical history. They’ll also see original paintings by legendary Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, as well as memorabilia from Perth’s very own Balderson Theatre, which for years was the largest theatre between Toronto and Montreal and was the home of the comic troupe The Marks Brothers. “This has certainly been a unique look back at some of the founding companies of modern Canadian theatre, and it’s great that we have this opportunity to continue sharing this with visitors as well as residents who haven’t had a chance to see it yet,” says Rennie. The exhibit, at 11 Gore Street East, runs until November 4. Continue reading