The Merry Wives of Windsor now in previews

Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino directs all-star cast

in 1950s-style production of Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy

MAY 11 – OCTOBER 26; OPENS JUNE 1 AT FESTIVAL THEATRE

Stratford, ON… Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino brings Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor close to home with a joyous production set in a small town not unlike Stratford, Ontario, in 1953, the year the Festival began.

This delightful romp features Geraint Wyn Davies as Falstaff, a portly knight, who pursues two married women at the same time – Mrs. Ford, played by Sophia Walker, and Mrs. Page, played by Brigit Wilson – failing to consider that his targets might, quite literally, compare notes. Nor has he reckoned on the mischievous spirit in which the wives will use their wits and wiles to teach him the error of his ways.

The Merry Wives of Windsor is said to have been written at the command of Queen Elizabeth I, who had adored the character of Falstaff in Shakespeare’s two parts of Henry IV.

In her program notes, Dr. Jessica Riddell muses on the delight the aging Queen Elizabeth, who had herself endured the attentions of obsequious but persistent suitors, might have taken in the justice the merry wives mete out.

“A play about female comeuppance in a world of boys behaving badly is the perfect recipe for a girls’ night out – both at Elizabeth’s court and in our own contemporary context,” Riddell says.

The Merry Wives of Windsor is the only play Shakespeare set in his own contemporary time and place,” says Cimolino. “Yet it somehow has the feeling of a memory play. Ben Jonson accused Shakespeare, his friend and rival, of having ‘small Latin and less Greek,’ and this play features a Latin lesson taken by a struggling young student named Will. Might the rural, small-town community in Merry Wives be modelled on the Stratford of the playwright’s youth?

“We can’t know that for sure, but we can certainly see that the hero of this play is the community, and that community is led – by example, at least – by two remarkable women. Alice Ford and Meg Page, the ‘merry wives’ of the title, take whatever ill fortune offers them and, through wit, wisdom, and brio, ensure a happy outcome for themselves and those they love. And so much of the healing comes by way of characters using theatre to subvert and delight. This, then, is a production set in a small town, in the not too distant past, where eccentric characters and remarkable women make the world a bit better through play-acting and theatre.”

Rounding out the all-star cast of this hilarious comedy are Graham Abbey as Mr. Ford, Michael Blake as Mr. Page and Lucy Peacock as Miss Quickly.

The creative team includes Designer Julie Fox, Lighting Designer Jason Hand, Composer Berthold Carrière, Lyricist Marion Adler, Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne, Fight Director Anita Nittoly and Movement Director Valerie Moore.

Previews of The Merry Wives of Windsor are now underway at the Festival Theatre and the production officially opens on June 1. For tickets and more information, visit stratfordfestival.ca or call the box office at 1.800.567.1600.

The character of Falstaff will also provide a hot topic across several events at the Forum. In The Faces of Falstaff (July 3), Geraint Wyn Davies joins scholar Lynne Magnusson, Stratford Festival Archivist Liza Giffen and moderator Robert Cushman to discuss the character’s transformation across the four plays in which he appears. Then, for a different take, Antoni Cimolino will moderate Boys Behaving Badly (August 21), a panel examining male privilege and entitlement with journalist and author Shereen El Feki, Stratford Festival company member Irene Poole and Jacqueline Wernimont, Distinguished Chair of Digital Humanities and Social Engagement and Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Dartmouth College.

For tickets and a full list of the Forum events, which are offered almost every day throughout the season, please visit: stratfordfestival.ca/WhatsOn/TheForum.

Support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and The T.R. Meighen Family Foundation.

Production support for The Merry Wives of Windsor is generously provided by Jane Petersen Burfield & family, by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, and by Dr. M. Lee Myers.

Support for the 2019 season of the Festival Theatre is generously provided by Daniel Bernstein and Claire Foerster.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

By William Shakespeare
May 11 – October 26; opens Saturday, June 1

Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford, Ontario

Tickets: $23.50 to $201

stratfordfestival.ca

Box office: 1-800-567-1600

This production is dedicated to the memory of Ian Watson, actor, teacher and esteemed member of the Festival’s coaching staff.

CAST (in alphabetical order)

Mr. Ford………………………………….. Graham Abbey

Mr. Page………………………………….. Michael Blake

Ensemble…………………………………. Quinlan Bolton

Sir Hugh Evans…………………………. Ben Carlson

Bardolph………………………………….. David Collins

Hostess of the Garter…………………. Sarah Dodd

Ensemble…………………………………. Rosemary Dunsmore

Nym………………………………………… Farhang Ghajar

Ensemble…………………………………. Emma Grabinsky

Pistol……………………………………….. Randy Hughson

William Page…………………………….. Micah Kalap

John………………………………………… John Kirkpatrick

Anne Page……………………………….. Shruti Kothari

Robert……………………………………… Daniel Krmpotic

Simple……………………………………… Josue Laboucane

Slender…………………………………….. Jamie Mac

Ensemble…………………………………. Alex Matheson

Robin………………………………………. Nolan McKee

Dr. Caius………………………………….. Gordon S. Miller

Miss Quickly…………………………….. Lucy Peacock

Ensemble…………………………………. Harrison Robinet

Ensemble…………………………………. Amelia Sargisson

Ensemble…………………………………. Amy Schroeder

Fenton……………………………………… Mike Shara

Ensemble…………………………………. E.B. Smith

Rugby……………………………………… Johnathan Sousa

Justice Shallow…………………………. Michael Spencer-Davis

Ensemble…………………………………. Abigail Verhaeghe

Mrs. Ford…………………………………. Sophia Walker

Mrs. Page…………………………………. Brigit Wilson

Falstaff……………………………………. Geraint Wyn Davies

ARTISTIC CREDITS

Director……………………………………. Antoni Cimolino

Designer…………………………………… Julie Fox

Lighting Designer……………………… Jason Hand

Composer…………………………………. Berthold Carrière

Lyricist…………………………………….. Marion Adler

Sound Designer………………………… Thomas Ryder Payne

Fight Director…………………………… Anita Nittoly

Movement Director…………………… Valerie Moore

Producer………………………………….. David Auster

Casting Director……………………….. Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director…………. Jason Miller

Assistant Director……………………… Andrew Kushnir

Assistant Set Designer……………….. Joshua Quinlan

Assistant Costume Designer……….. Patricia Reilly

Assistant Lighting Designer……….. Imogen Wilson

Stage Manager………………………….. Anne Murphy

Assistant Stage Managers…………… Judy Farthing, Hilary Nichol, Corinne Richards

Production Stage Managers………… Meghan Callan, Cynthia Toushan

Technical Director…………………….. Robbin Cheesman

The Stratford Festival’s 2019 season runs until November 3, featuring Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII, Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Private Lives, The Neverending Story, Mother’s Daughter, Nathan the Wise, The Front Page, The Crucible and Birds of a Kind.

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