The Neverending Story now on stage in Stratford

MAY 16 – NOVEMBER 3; OPENS JUNE 15 AT AVON THEATRE

Stratford, ON… The beloved adventure tale The Neverending Story comes to life in Jillian Keiley’s eye-popping production filled with spectacle and wondrous other-worldly creatures. Previews are underway at the Avon Theatre and the production officially opens on Saturday, June 15.

Keiley, Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, is well remembered by Festival patrons for mounting such inventive productions as Alice Through the Looking-Glass, The Diary of Anne Frank and Bakkhai. Together with her creative team, she once again brings her distinctive, imaginative style to transform the Avon stage into a vivid fantasy world featuring astonishing puppetry and technical wizardry.

Led by Designer Bretta Gerecke, the creative team also includes Lighting Designer Leigh Ann Vardy, Sound Designer Don Ellis, Fight Director Anita Nittoly, Movement and Puppetry Director Brad Cook and Puppetry Consultant James Retter Duncan. As a nod to the enormously popular 1984 film version, the production is infused with original ’80s-inspired music by Canadian singer and songwriter Hawksley Workman.

Presented as the 2019 Schulich Children’s Play, The Neverending Story follows 10-year-old Bastian, played by Jake Runeckles, who, in order to avoid school bullies, hides in a closet reading a strangely compelling book: the tale of a hero’s quest to save the realm of Fantastica from the encroaching terror of the Nothing. In a bid to save their dying ruler, the Childlike Empress, young warrior Atreyu, played by Qasim Khan, is chosen to find a cure for the Empress and destroy the Nothing, but ultimately finds that she can only be saved by an outsider. Bastian steps into the role of saviour in the story and discovers his own power in this magical world.

“In this time of young people standing up fiercely to today’s seemingly unvanquishable threats, like the existential threat of climate change, the idea of a child being chosen to save all that we know, or to re-invent everything that could be, is no longer in the realm of the imagination,” says Keiley. “I hope with this imagined story that we might inspire some young people the way that those real young fighters and heroes have inspired us.”

The Neverending Story marks its 40th anniversary this year. Since it was published in 1979, Michael Ende’s novel has been translated into more than 40 languages and sold over 20 million copies worldwide. The novel has been adapted for the stage by Canadian playwright David S. Craig, who has revised the script for this production.

“The plays we present for young people are vital,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “When we tell these stories, we are not only developing the audiences of the future, but also imparting valuable messages. The Neverending Story speaks with such heart to something that is so important to all of us: finding inner strength and courage to overcome adversity. Bastian’s journey serves as a beautiful lesson about the power of imagination and I hope it reminds us all, young and old, never to lose sight of that.”

The magic of The Neverending Story extends beyond the stage with several family events planned before and after selected performances. Kick off your adventure with a Hero’s Quest Lunch (July 7, July 27, August 18), a fantastical meal complete with puppet demonstrations, games and face painting, and The Neverending Story Workshop (June 23, July 13, July 21, August 23), a series of drama exercises inspired by the story. After the show, settle in for a Cushion Concert full of favourite songs and stories for the whole family (July 13, August 24, September 21).

For tickets and a full list of the Forum events 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.

Support for the 2019 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by the Birmingham family.

Schulich Children’s Plays

THE NEVERENDING STORY

Based upon the novel by Michael Ende

Adapted by David S. Craig

Produced in association with Canada’s National Arts Centre
May 16 – November 3; opens Saturday, June 15

Avon Theatre, 99 Downie Street, Stratford, Ontario

Tickets: $23.50 to $201

Kids’ tickets: $18.50 to $70

stratfordfestival.ca

Box office: 1-800-567-1600

CAST (in alphabetical order)

Gmork, The Troll, Urgl and Engywook………………………………………….. Sean Arbuckle

Bastian’s Father, A Purple Buffalo, A Traveller, A Refugee…………….. Tim Campbell

Ygramul, Chancellor of the Ivory Tower, A Refugee………………………. Laura Condlln

Maya………………………………………………………………………………………….. Ijeoma Emesowum

Swing………………………………………………………………………………………… Jordin Hall

Morla, Elder of the Grassy Ocean, Sassafranian Child……………………… Kim Horsman

Eribo, A Bully…………………………………………………………………………….. Andrew Iles

Atreyu……………………………………………………………………………………….. Qasim Khan

Bookseller, Cairon, Sassafranian Child…………………………………………… Roy Lewis

Swing………………………………………………………………………………………… Hilary McCormack

A Bully, Child of the Grassy Ocean, A Traveller, A Refugee……………. Katelyn McCulloch

Uyulala, Sassafranian Adult………………………………………………………….. Jennifer Rider-Shaw

Artax, A Bully…………………………………………………………………………….. Andrew Robinson

Bastian……………………………………………………………………………………….. Jake Runeckles

Falkor, The Caretaker…………………………………………………………………… Rylan Wilkie

The Childlike Empress…………………………………………………………………. Mamie Zwettler

ARTISTIC CREDITS

Director……………………………………………………………………………………… Jillian Keiley

Designer…………………………………………………………………………………….. Bretta Gerecke

Lighting Designer………………………………………………………………………… Leigh Ann Vardy

Composer…………………………………………………………………………………… Hawksley Workman

Sound Designer…………………………………………………………………………… Don Ellis

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

Movement and Puppetry Director………………………………………………….. Brad Cook

Puppetry Consultant…………………………………………………………………….. James Retter Duncan

Producer…………………………………………………………………………………….. David Auster

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

Creative Planning Director……………………………………………………………. Jason Miller

Associate Director……………………………………………………………………….. Mikaela Davies

Associate Designer………………………………………………………………………. Robin Fisher

Assistant Set Designer…………………………………………………………………. Julia Kim

Assistant Costume Designer…………………………………………………………. Joseph Abetria

Assistant Lighting Designer………………………………………………………….. Frank Donato

Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………………….. Brian Scott

Assistant Stage Managers…………………………………………………………….. Jacki Brabazon,

Bona Duncan,

Melissa Rood

Production Assistant……………………………………………………………………. Scarlett Larry

Production Stage Managers………………………………………………………….. Meghan Callan,

Michael Hart

Janine Ralph

Technical Director……………………………………………………………………….. Eleanor Creelman

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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