Shaw Festival Announces 2009 Season

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Shaw Festival tickets on sale starting November 8th.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell officially announced the Shaw Festival's 2009 season today. In 2009 The Shaw takes on a monumental and historic project with full productions of each play in Noel Coward's famous Tonight at 8:30 collection. The Shaw's 2009 productions represent the first time all ten short plays have been performed in repertory by a professional company since they were first produced by London's Phoenix Theatre in 1935-36. The plays will be performed in sets of three, one on each of the Festival's Niagara-on-the-Lake stages, with the tenth, the rarely produced Star Chamber, being the lunchtime production in the Royal George.

Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, Associate Director Neil Munro and Artistic Director Emeritus Christopher Newton will each direct a Tonight at 8:30 group. The Festival Theatre group, titled Brief Encounters, will include Still Life, Hands Across the Sea and We Were Dancing, and will be directed by Ms. Maxwell. The Court House group, titled Ways of the Heart, will include Ways and Means, Family Album and The Astonished Heart, and will be directed by Mr. Munro. The Royal George group, titled Play, Orchestra, Play, will include Red Peppers, Fumed Oak and Shadow Play, and will be directed by Mr. Newton. Kate Lynch will direct Star Chamber. Music ties the plays within Tonight at 8:30 together thematically and The Shaw's Music Director Paul Sportelli will be Music Director for the whole project.

John Osborne (1929-1994), playwright, activist and the original inspiration for the phrase "angry young man", revolutionized English theatre in 1956 with his play Look Back in Anger. In 2009 The Shaw will produce a limited run of Osborne's 1957 play The Entertainer, directed by Jackie Maxwell in the Festival Theatre Rehearsal Studio.

The 2009 playbill includes six additional full productions. The Shaw's celebration of Coward's witty and subversive world sits perfectly beside the work of house wit and subversive, Bernard Shaw. Bernard Shaw's exhilarating The Devil's Disciple, last produced at The Shaw in 1996, is directed in 2009 by renowned Polish director Tadeusz Bradecki, and presented in the Festival Theatre. In the Royal George, Shaw's hilarious satire of philosophy, playwriting and acting, In Good King Charles's Golden Days, will be directed by Eda Holmes.

Garson Kanin's classic comedy Born Yesterday, directed by Neil Munro, will share the Shaw Festival Theatre stage.

The Court House Theatre season also includes Eugene O'Neill's romantic drama A Moon for the Misbegotten, directed by Joseph Ziegler. Continuing to programme Canadian classics, Michel Tremblay's phenomenal Albertine in Five Times, in a new translation by Linda Gaboriau and directed by Micheline Chevrier, will complete the Court House season.

The Shaw continues to explore the work of Stephen Sondheim with a production of Sunday in the Park with George, directed by Alisa Palmer.

The 2009 Reading Series focuses on diverse female playwrights with a political voice. It includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, a bitingly funny, hard-hitting examination of poverty in America, and Yazmina Reza's sharp-edged comedy of parents behaving badly, God of Carnage.

The reading series is often informed by The Shaw's play development work. As part of the 2009 reading series The Shaw also presents a new musical based on the brief life of Maria Severa Onofriana, a famous Portuguese fado singer who achieved near-mythical status after her death. Maria Severa is written by Shaw Festival Music Director Paul Sportelli and Ensemble member Jay Turvey. Other projects in development include an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost by Robin Patterson, Artistic Director of St. Catharines' Theatre Beyond Words; Kaj Munk by Dave Carley, an adaptation, by Associate Director Neil Munro, of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder; and work with diverse writers including an ongoing association with Cahoots Theatre Projects.

Regular ticket prices for the 2009 season range from $30 to $110 including GST. For Special Matinees, student tickets are $25 and senior tickets are $40. Lunchtime ticket prices are $30. Sunday night performances are available all season from $45 to $60 and, for patrons aged 19-29, $30 tickets are available for most performances. Preview prices are $55 to $70. Family tickets are available in each theatre: for each regularly-priced ticket purchased, one or two youth tickets (18 years or under) may be purchased for just $30. New in 2009 are specially designated $30 seats for most Festival Theatre performances.

Shaw Festival Tickets for the 2009 season go on sale to Members according to Membership level starting November 8. Tickets go on sale to groups and schools on January 5. Tickets go on sale to The Shaw's high-loyalty customers on January 3 and to the general public by mail, fax or online on January 5 and by phone or in person on January 10.

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Odette Yazbeck
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