John Osborne's The Entertainer Opens at Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

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Stepping outside of the Shaw Festival's mandate, this presentation of "The Entertainer" represents a continuum of provocative playwrighting

Mr. Osborne takes up the Twentieth-Century Blues from the point where Mr. Coward left off.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario John Osborne's The Entertainer, an exposé of 1950s postwar England as seen through the eyes of fading music hall performer Archie Rice, has opened at the Shaw Festival's new Studio Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Interspersed with vaudeville performances tainted with an air of desperation and gin-soaked family arguments, "The Entertainer" uses the metaphor of the fading music hall tradition and its eclipse by the emergence of rock and roll to comment on an England teetering on a precipice, unable to find its place in the dawn of the new modern era.

Deliberately stepping outside of the Shaw Festival's mandate, this presentation of "The Entertainer" represents a continuum of provocative playwrighting that includes Bernard Shaw, Noël Coward and now John Osborne and will be continued in future programming featuring other contemporary 'Shavians'. As a reviewer once noted, "Mr. Osborne takes up the Twentieth-Century Blues from the point where Mr. Coward left off."

Directed by Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, The Entertainer features Benedict Campbell as Archie Rice; David Schurmann as Billy Rice and Corrine Koslo as Phoebe Rice. Also appearing are Krista Colosimo, Ken James Stewart, Ric Reid, Graeme Sommerville, Reza Jacobs, Prince Amponsah, Billy Lake and Esther Maloney. Designed by Peter Hartwell, lighting design by Head of Lighting Design Kevin Lamotte, musical staging by Valerie Moore and musical direction by Reza Jacobs with original music by John Addison. The stage management team includes Stage Manager Beatrice Campbell and Apprentice Stage Manager Melissa Novecosky.

The Entertainer plays in repertory until Sunday, September 20. The Entertainer is sponsored by Paradigm Capital Inc.

Shaw Festival visitors will find the theatre a valuable resource for information including Niagara-on-the-Lake attractions, restaurant and hotel recommendations and vacation packages. For more information or to reserve tickets for 2009 Season performances, call locally 905-468-2172 or toll free 1-800-511-SHAW (7429) or visit http://www.shawfest.com.

About 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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