Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30 Series at Shaw Festival Makes Repertory Theatre History

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Previews of Brief Encounters Begin Shaw Festival's Presentation of all Ten One-Act Plays in Tonight at 8:30

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Three of the best-known one-act plays from Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30--Still Life, We Were Dancing and Hands Across the Sea--began preview performances in Brief Encounters on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at the Festival Theatre. Directed by Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, this first triple bill in the Shaw Festival's Coward cycle of ten one-act plays marks the start of a world premiere -- the first time all ten plays have been presented together in repertory theatre history.        

The first preview performance of Brief Encounters launched these significant Niagara-on-the-Lake events on April 11. Brief Encounters opens Wednesday, May 20 and plays in repertory until Saturday, October 24. Brief Encounters is sponsored by CIBC World Markets.

Repressed love after a chance meeting at a train station; flaming passion from a single dance across the floor; mistaken identity following a passing holiday acquaintance - three different stories all inspired by three brief moments in time, come together to make up Brief Encounters. This opening triplet of Coward's Tonight at 8:30 cycle features three miniature delights only possible from the pen of Noël Coward and demonstrate the great range of his writing - from drama to comedy to music.

Initially conceived by Coward to revive the one-act play, Tonight at 8:30 also provided the opportunity for Coward to showcase his and his favourite actress Gertrude Lawrence's acting, singing and dancing talents. Staying true to Coward's original idea, Deborah Hay, Patrick Galligan, Corrine Koslo and Thom Marriott perform multiple roles and show off their triple threat talents in this threesome of Coward short plays. Brief Encounters also features Krista Colosimo, Gray Powell, Goldie Semple, Michael Ball, Prince Amponsah, Wade Bogert-O'Brien, Beryl Bain and David Schurmann in multiple roles.

Brief Encounters has set and costumes designed by the Shaw Festival's Head of Design, William Schmuck, lighting design by Head of Lighting Design Kevin Lamotte, musical arrangements and sound design by John Gzowski, projections by Adam Larsen, choreography by Valerie Moore. The stage management team includes Production Stage Manager Judy Farthing and Assistant Stage Manager Amy Jewell.    
For more information on this once in a lifetime presentation of Tonight at 8:30 at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, please visit

About the Shaw Festival
Inspired by the brilliance, bravery, humanity and humour of George Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival is a crucible of progressive and provocative ideas, which illuminate our understanding of today's world. The Shaw's playbill, centred on the era of Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), covers a diversity of views that shine light on different worlds during a period of extraordinary shift.

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Odette Yazbeck
Shaw Festival Theatre
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