Welcome to part three of our special SceneNotes series in which we offer a quick peek at each of our 2019 plays and musicals to give you a better idea of what each production has in store, who the key players are, and why you should rush to book your tickets now. With such an amazing and varied line-up of theatrical offerings - together with stellar direction, spectacular choreography and guaranteed powerhouse performances - we're sure you won't want to miss a single one!
The Front Page
World première adaptation commissioned by the Stratford Festival
By Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
Adaptation by Michael Healey
Directed by Graham Abbey
Festival Theatre: July 30 to October 25
Originally written in 1928, and newly adapted for the Festival by playwright Michael Healey (who adapted The Physicists for our 2015 production), this dark comedy-drama is set in Chicago, in the heyday of newspaper journalism. It takes a satirical look at the perversion of justice for political and financial gain, and examines the power of the spoken and written word to uncover the truth behind the lies.
The action takes place in the press room of Chicago's Criminal Courts Building, overlooking the courtyard in which a supposed Communist agitator, Earl Williams, is to be hanged for the shooting of an African-American police officer. Reporters from all but one of the city's major newspapers are there, killing time as they await the 7 a.m. execution. The exception is Hildy Johnson, star reporter for the Examiner, who arrives only to announce that he's getting married and quitting the newspaper business.
Meanwhile, the Governor's office has sent a man carrying a reprieve for Williams, but the mayor bribes the official not to deliver the document. Hildy's determination to seek a new life is suddenly thwarted when Williams escapes from jail and clambers through the window into the office of which Hildy is now the sole occupant. Neither a Communist nor an intentional killer, Williams has become the unwilling pawn of corrupt local authorities - and Hildy is determined to get the story, even if it costs him the love of his life.
The outstanding cast is headed by Ben Carlson as Hildy Johnson and Maev Beaty as his editor, Penelope Burns. The stellar onstage lineup includes Michelle Giroux as McCue, Randy Hughson as Murphy, Juan Chioran as the Mayor, Mike Shara as Sheriff Hartman, Michael Blake as Diamond Louis and Johnathan Sousa as Earl Williams.
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Jonathan Goad
Avon Theatre: August 1 to October 25
Written in 1953, this American classic tells a fictionalized story of the Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials that took place in the 17th century. Miller wrote it as an allegory of the 1950s anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era, when the House Un-American Activities Committee levelled accusations of subversion or treason on the flimsiest of evidence; however, the play also resonates powerfully with the concerns of our own times, since the tragedy it depicts is set in motion by the protagonist's sexual exploitation of a young woman in his employ.
In the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts, farmer John Proctor has been conducting an illicit relationship with his employee Abigail Williams, the 17-year-old niece of Reverend Parris. Abigail and other teenage girls have been caught dancing in the forest with Tituba, an African-Caribbean slave. Seemingly possessed with hallucinations and seizures, the girls claim that some members of the community have used witchcraft on them.
Rumours spread, and the town is gripped in a frenzy of hysteria and wrongful accusations - including the vengeful Abigail's claim that her lover's wife, Elizabeth Proctor, practises witchcraft. The epidemic of fear and suspicion engulfs the guilty and the innocent alike, exploding into trials filled with angry denunciations and lies that see many townspeople sent to the hangman - including John Proctor himself.
In a truly powerful cast for this intense and resonant tragedy, Tim Campbell takes on John Proctor, with Wayne Best as Deputy Governor Danforth, Katelyn McCulloch as Abigail Williams, Shannon Taylor as Elizabeth Proctor, Scott Wentworth as Reverend Parris, Rylan Wilkie as Reverend Hale, Mamie Zwettler as Mary Warren, Sean Arbuckle as Thomas Putnam and Ijeoma Emesowum as Tituba.