August 13, 2019 2:49 pm

Stratford Festival unveils 2020 season featuring new theatre centre

A rendering of the stage at the Tom Patterson Theatre Centre by Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Stratford Festival
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The Stratford Festival’s 2020 season is being billed as one of its “most ambitious seasons ever” with 15 productions, including five in a new theatre centre.

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The Tom Patterson Theatre Centre replaced the aging Tom Patterson Theatre, which was originally built as a curling rink.

Among the productions set to grace the stage of the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre in the 2020 season are Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well — the plays that started the Stratford Festival in 1953.

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“Both Richard III and All’s Well are about the birth of the modern world. They compare a set of values, a set of expectations about loyalty and service in a world that is already disappearing: a feudal era that is giving way to a modern world of capitalism,” said artistic director Antoni Cimolino.

“Because these plays are about both the past and the future, they are exactly the right plays to begin a theatre with, and I guess [British director] Tyrone Guthrie knew that when he selected them for the first season.”

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Returning for his 18th Stratford season, Colm Feore will play Richard. The actor has appeared in blockbusters like Thor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Gotham. He also appeared on the small screen in roles on shows such as House of Cards, The Borgias and Slings and Arrows. His most recent Stratford performance was the titular role in King Lear.

Colm Feore, pictured at the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, will play Richard III at the Stratford Festival in 2020.

Chris Young

In addition to its nod to the festival’s origins, the new theatre centre will also be home to two new festival commissions. The musical Here’s What It Takes — developed by Canadian Music Hall of Famer Steve Page, Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright Daniel MacIvor and musical-theatre director Donna Feore — focuses on the journey of a rock duo who goes from performing at children’s birthday parties in the early 1980s to the “top of the pops” in the 1990s.

The second commission, the play Frankenstein Revived, comes from Morris Panych, co-creator of The Overcoat, and acclaimed composer David Coulter, focuses on author Mary Shelley and “explores the big question at the heart of her work: what does it mean to be human?”

Festival Theatre programming includes the first major production of the musical Chicago outside of New York and London, England in 30 years as well as Shakespearean classics Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet and Molière’s The Miser.

Festival Theatre, 2003. Photography by Richard Bain.

Richard Bain

The more intimate Studio Theatre will include productions of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters and the new play Hamlet-911 from Ann-Marie MacDonald and Alisa Palmer.

The 2020 season will also include the North American premiere of Wendy and Peter Pan by Ella Hickson, Monty Python’s Spamalot and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall at the Avon Theatre.

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Tickets for the 2020 season will go on sale to members on Nov. 10 and to the public on Jan. 3.

The 2019 season — including productions of Othello, Billy Elliot the Musical, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Little Shop of Horrors, The Neverending Story, The Crucible and Henry VIII, among others — continues until Nov. 10, and tickets can be purchased online or at 1-800-567-1600.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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