Stratford Festival 2024: Detroit’s Sam White returns to direct Romeo and Juliet

The Stratford Festival is back, celebrating “A World Elsewhere” with a dozen captivating productions and 200 special events from April 16 to October 27. This year’s lineup promises to transport audiences to diverse locales like Illyria, Verona, London, Saint-Tropez, and even Neverland through plays such as Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Wendy and Peter Pan, and musicals like Something Rotten! and La Cage aux Folles.

A visit to Stratford, Ontario, a picturesque town of 32,000 just a few hours’ drive from Michigan, is a journey to a world elsewhere. This lush, scenic destination has long been a summer retreat for Michiganders seeking exceptional theatre, innovative cuisine, and unique shopping experiences. It truly is a world away from the everyday.

This season, Detroit’s own Sam White, Founding Artistic and Executive Director of Shakespeare in Detroit, returns to Stratford to direct Romeo and Juliet. White made her Stratford directorial debut last season with a remarkable production of Alice Childress’s Wedding Band. “It’s a joyful thing when a great play that seemed to be lost is found,” said New York Times Chief Theater Critic Jesse Green of the production. “How much more so when its greatness is confirmed and the play takes root in the soil of a new time.”

White’s production of Romeo and Juliet, the timeless tale of star-crossed lovers, will run from May 6 to October 26. “I’m over the moon to direct Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Festival this year. It was one of the first plays I read as a kid when my mom introduced me to Shakespeare at eight years old,” says White. “Shakespeare became a passport to worlds beyond my city block, and I feel so honored to share the gift that was given to me this season with an exuberant, vibrant production that leans into the romance of not only lovers but music, art, fashion, and friendship. I hope my fellow Michiganders will join me, just a car ride away, for a production that will fill your hearts and remind us all that there is still beauty in the world.”

Michigan visitors represent the largest proportion of American theatergoers at Stratford. Generations of Michiganders return year after year to experience the unparalleled theatre offerings. The appeal of Shakespeare’s great plays like Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, directed by theatre legend Seana McKenna, draws many. McKenna, with an exceptional cast, will extract every bit of wit from this delightful comedy, running from April 26 to October 26.

For those seeking lesser-known Shakespearean works, Cymbeline directed by Esther Jun, and featuring Stratford Festival Legacy Award-winning actor Lucy Peacock alongside rising star Allison Edwards-Crewe, will be performed from May 10 to September 28 in the Festival’s extraordinary new Tom Patterson Theatre. This architectural marvel offers an unparalleled theatrical experience.

Other rarely seen classics, such as the early Victorian comedy London Assurance, last produced in 2006, also lure American audiences. Directed by Cimolino, this production features an all-star cast led by comedic genius Geraint Wyn Davies and runs from August 7 to October 25.

Two fabulous musicals will bring a touch of Broadway to Stratford’s stages. Something Rotten!, a hilarious Shakespearean parody, promises non-stop laughs, incredible choreography, and catchy songs. It runs from April 16 to October 27, directed by the acclaimed Donna Feore. La Cage aux Folles, directed by Thom Allison, pairs Sean Arbuckle with Steve Ross and promises a sensory feast with stunning costumes, a fabulous set, and memorable songs like “I Am What I Am.” This production runs from May 6 to October 26.

Families will delight in Wendy and Peter Pan, the North American premiere of Emma Hickson’s adaptation of the J.M. Barrie classic, running from May 21 to October 27. Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, this touching story retains all the fun of the original – flying children, Captain Hook, the crocodile, pirates – with a heartwarming twist.

The season also features Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, and three new plays: Salesman in China by Leanna Brodie and Jovanni Sy; an adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s classic The Diviners by Vern Thiessen with Yvette Nolan; and Get That Hope by Andrea Scott.

The Stratford Festival promises a rich and diverse theatrical experience, inviting audiences to embark on unforgettable journeys through these imaginative productions. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this extraordinary season.


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