Review from Stratford: Macbeth

On June first the Stratford Shakespeare Festival got it’s 57th Season underway.  It started as it always does with much pomp and ceremony, the Stratford red carpet was rolled out for several parliamentarians and other guests to opening night.  What better way is there to open the season than with what it arguably Shakespeare’s greatest work…Macbeth.  The only way to make this better is by welcoming back one of Stratford’s greatest to the stage.  Having Colm Feore back playing the title role is a really treat.

I have had the opportunity to read some of the reviews that are already out there and I have to say that I disagree with the majority of them.  Many of them disliked the show for the same reason’s I loved it.  It was right after the lights went out in the theatre and music started that I knew I’d adore this production.  

This season Macbeth is directed by the Festivals Artistic Director (Des McAnuff) who is perhaps best know for his other work, namely Jersey Boys.  The music that swells and becomes more lively before the shots go off you know that you’re in the continent of Africa (yeah, this production doesn’t take place in Scotland).  I wasn’t all that thrilled about Macbeth until I heard that the setting would be changed to Africa, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed by this change.

Colm Feore was amazing as Macbeth but then was out done by Yanna McIntosh’s portrayal of Lady M.  The sleepwalking scene was the most amazing thing I’ve seen on the Festival stage.  As she walked out on the stage violently rubbing her hands I was on the edge of my seat.  The other person worth mentioning is Tom Rooney (this is only his second season at the Festival) as the Porter.  I enjoyed Rooney last season but as the Porter he has out done himself.  I’m interested to see how he takes on Puck later this season in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This is really a show that shouldn’t be missed.  Take the opportunity to come to Stratford and see this amazing production of Macbeth.  It runs until October 31 at the Festival Theatre.


Caesar and Cleopatra

This summer the Stratford Shakespeare Festival had Christopher Plummer playing George Bernard Shaw’s Julius Caesar in Caesar and Cleopatra. It was a show that got so much attention that the show was filmed in HD and presented at Cineplex theatres across Canada. Now for those of you that didn’t get the chance to see this amazing show, directed by Stratford’s new Artistic Director Des McAnuff, you can watch it tonight on Bravo at 9pm. If you can you should definitely watch it tonight. It’s a chance to see a show Stratford is famous on of the thrust stage that made Stratford famous. Here’s the trailer for it’s first release, it went over so well that they did a second screening:

Here are some of the cast talking about the show and some behind the scenes:

Be sure to catch the other 2 parts of this webcast.

Theatrical Thursday – Jersey Boys

Given what this Theatrical Thursday is about not all of these will have a link to a novel of any kind. Even though this isn’t book related I wanted to talk about it anyway because I love theatre and once the Festival gets going I’ll be talking about a number of shows that have no other literary history than that of a theatrical production. But I also think that plays has a place in the literary world and that’s why I’m using this place to talk about them.

There were a number of reasons for wanting to see Jersey Boys. The primary reason for wanting to watching this particular show is because the director, Des McAnuff, is the new Artistic Director of the place I work, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. This year he is directing our flagship production Macbeth and one of the musicals this season A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. So needless to say I felt inclined to see this production dispite its one major downfall, the fact that it’s a jukebox musical. I really don’t like the jukebox musical because the stories are contrived and are just a way of drawing people to the theatre because they already know the music.

I saw the all Canadian cast at the Toronto Center for the Arts last week. There were four of us that took the trip from Stratford to Toronto. Sadly the most exciting part of the evening was when we saw Fred Penner come through the front door. He was someone I remember watching on television all the time growing up. So it was really exciting to see him. You may better remember him for this:

After that excitement we entered the theatre to see this production. Jersey Boys, for those of you don’t know, is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story is good and the music is fantastic but as a show it’s not anything spectacular. I just couldn’t understand why it continues to win all the awards it’s won or won the Tony Awards it got. The best that could be said for this show is that it’s entertainment. It’s enjoyable but I don’t think it’s something people should rush out to see.

My first encounter with this show was watching the Tony Awards. You’ll get an idea of the energy of the show from the clip below from the Tony Awards. For those of you that know the music of the Four Seasons you’ll enjoy the tunes in this show and it may be of interest to see the show.