Stratford Festival announces theme, casting for 2023 season

By StratfordToday Staff

The Stratford Festival has announced its theme for the 2023 season as advance ticket sales are set to get underway.

Creative teams for next year’s productions are coming into place and the casting department is busy confirming key roles for the season, as casting continues, the festival announced in a news release. 

The workshops will soon be abuzz with artisans building the season’s sets, props and costumes.

“This is a bittersweet moment. We have just closed our 2022 season, which feels like something of a miracle,” said artistic director Antoni Cimolino. “We feel enormous gratitude to our staff and company for the outstanding work they did to make this season come to life despite the many obstacles that COVID placed in our path. 

“I was so proud of the work on our stages and all the efforts that made that work possible. And to our patrons, who returned to Stratford despite ongoing public health concerns, we are forever grateful. 

“Now, we turn our thoughts to 2023 and hope today’s exciting news will entice even more theatre lovers to Stratford next season.” 

Programmed around a theme of “duty vs desire,” next season features King Lear, Rent, Much Ado About Nothing, Les Belles-Soeurs, Monty Python’s Spamalot, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Grand Magic, Richard II, Wedding Band, Casey and Diana, Women of the Fur Trade and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“Mark Twain once said that ‘history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.’ And so it gives us endless variations on recurring themes – themes that, since the dawn of drama, artists have explored on stage,” Cimolino said. 

“The works on our 2023 playbill all seem to me to reflect in some way the age-old tension highlighted anew by the challenges of the pandemic era: the tension between duty and desire. As we navigate a world reshaped by the past years, these plays may help clarify the importance of finding a balance between pursuing our own wants, needs and dreams and helping others fulfill theirs.”

Tickets for the 2023 season will go on sale to members of the Stratford Festival beginning Nov. 6. Early-bird sales are open to everyone on Dec. 12.

The events of The Meighen Forum will be announced at a later date.

Season Partners are BMO Financial Group and RBC.

Support for the 2023 season of the Festival Theatre is provided by Daniel Bernstein and Claire Foerster.

For more information, visit


By William Shakespeare

Director: Kimberley Rampersad

April 24 to Oct. 29 | Opens May 30

Production support is generously provided by Catherine and David Wilkes.

Acclaimed actor Paul Gross returns to the Festival in 2023 to play King Lear, 23 years after playing Hamlet on the same stage in the memorable 2000 production. He will be joined by Michael Blake as Edmund, Déjah Dixon-Green as Regan, Anthony Santiago as Gloucester, Tara Sky as Cordelia, and Gordon Patrick White as the Fool.

The cast also includes Austin Eckert (King of France), Allison Edwards-Crewe, John Kirkpatrick, Josue Laboucane, Devin MacKinnon (Oswald) and Rylan Wilkie (Duke of Cornwall).

King Lear is directed by Kimberley Rampersad, with set designer Judith Bowden, costume designer Michelle Bohn, lighting designer Chris Malkowski, composer Sean Mayes and sound designer Miquelon Rodriguez.

Perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, King Lear is the story of an aging king, who, in demanding a show of devotion from his three daughters, leaves his kingdom divided, his family destroyed, the faithful banished and the hateful left to wreak inhuman havoc in the realm.


Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Director: Thom Allison ǀ Choreographer: Marc Kimelman ǀ Music Director: Franklin Brasz

April 8 to Oct. 28 | Opens June 2

 Jonathan Larson’s moving and evocative musical Rent will feature Andrea Macasaet as Mimi Marquez, Robert Markus as Mark Cohen and Kolton Stewart as Roger Davis.

The production includes Jahlen Barnes as Benjamin Coffin III, Nestor Lozano Junior as Angel Dumott Schunard, and Erica Peck as Maureen Johnson.

The cast is rounded out by Celeste Catena, Nick Dolan (Gordon), Christine Desjardins (swing), Kelly Holiff (Mark’s mom), Masini McDermott and Danielle Verayo.

Rent will be directed by Thom Allison with choreographer Marc Kimelman, music director Franklin Brasz, set designer Brandon Kleiman, costume designer Ming Wong, lighting designer Michael Walton and sound designer Joshua Reid.

Set in Manhattan in the 1990s and inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, the musical follows a group of young East Village artists, performers and philosophers as they struggle through the hardships of poverty, societal discord and the AIDS epidemic in the search for life, love and art. With a song list that includes the iconic “Seasons of Love,” Rent tells a story as relevant today as when it took Broadway by storm more than 25 years ago. 


By William Shakespeare

Additional text by Erin Shields

Director: Chris Abraham

May 29 to Oct. 27 | Opens June 16

Production support is generously provided by Priscilla Costello, by John and Therese Gardner, by the Harkins and Manning families in memory of Jim and Susan Harkins, by The Jentes Family and by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine.

One of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, Much Ado About Nothing will feature Graham Abbey and Maev Beaty as Benedick and Beatrice, two quick-witted and sarcastic individuals who are happily single, but who friends believe would make a great romantic match.

Playing alongside the warring duo are Michael Blake as Don John, Austin Eckert as Claudio, Allison Edwards-Crewe as Hero, and Anthony Santiago as Antonio.

The cast also features Déjah Dixon-Green (Margaret), John Kirkpatrick (Verges), Kevin Kruchkywich (Seacoal), Josue Laboucane (Dogberry), Cyrus Lane (Conrade), Devin MacKinnon, Gordon Patrick White (Friar Francis), Rylan Wilkie (Balthasar) and Micah Woods (the Messenger).

The production is directed by Chris Abraham, with designer Julie Fox, lighting designer Arun Srinivasan, and composer and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne.

Set in the Early Modern world, an era of ever-changing attitudes towards marriage and power, the play presents a society at once filled with progressive feminist impulses and countervailing forces rooted in traditional patriarchal values. With his astonishing wit and insight, Shakespeare explores the complexities that underlie these growing social tensions.


By Michel Tremblay

Translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco

Director: Esther Jun

Aug. 8 to Oct. 28 | Opens Aug. 25

Production support is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska, by Cathy and Paul Cotton,

by Jane Fryman Laird, by Dr. Robert J. and Roberta Sokol and by Jack Whiteside.

The beloved Michel Tremblay comedy Les Belles-Soeurs will feature Seana McKenna as Rose Ouimet, and Lucy Peacock as Germaine Lauzon, with Diana Leblanc as Olivine Dubuc.

The cast also includes Joella Crichton (Yvette Longpre), Déjah Dixon-Green, Allison Edwards-Crewe (Pierrette Guerin), Antonette Rudder and Tara Sky (Ginette Ménard).

The production will be directed by Esther Jun, with set designer Joanna Yu, costume designer Michelle Bohn, lighting designer Louise Guinand, and composer and sound designer Maddie Bautista.

Les Belles-Soeurs portrays 15 Québécois women expressing their anger, desperation and frustration loudly, rudely and audaciously. Germaine Lauzon has won a million stamps in a contest. She invites her family and neighbours into her kitchen to help paste them into booklets. Fighting for any power in their suffocating lives, the women yell, backstab, dream and steal in grand theatrical style.



Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle | Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle

A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

From the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

Director: Lezlie Wade | Choreographer: Jesse Robb | Music Director: Laura Burton

April 19 to Oct. 28 | Opens May 31

Production support is generously provided by The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

Jonathan Goad returns to the Festival in 2023 to play King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot. He will be joined in this uproarious musical by Eddie Glen as Patsy, Aaron Krohn as Sir Lancelot, Trevor Patt as Sir Robin, Jennifer Rider-Shaw as the Lady of the Lake, and Liam Tobin as Sir Galahad.

The production also features Carla Bennett, Devon Michael Brown, Amanda De Freitas, Aidan deSalaiz (Sir Bedevere), Josh Doig, Evangelia Kambites, Bethany Kovarik, Ayrin Mackie, Anthony MacPherson (swing), Heather McGuigan (swing), Kyla Musselman and Jason Sermonia.

This sublimely silly musical will be directed by Lezlie Wade with choreographer Jesse Robb, designer David Boechler, music director Laura Burton, lighting designer Renée Brode, sound designer Emily Porter and projection designer Sean Nieuwenhuis.

Spamalot offers up a hefty share of irreverence in a hilarious spoof of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they go in search of the Holy Grail. This outrageous comedy lets us look at our flaws and foibles and in doing so allows us to laugh at the things that make us human.

Schulich Children’s Plays

World Première Adaptation


By Madeleine L’Engle | Adapted for the stage by Thomas Morgan Jones

Director: Thomas Morgan Jones

May 18 to Oct. 29 | Opens June 17

Production support is generously provided by The Schulich Foundation.

Thomas Morgan Jones’s imaginative new adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time will feature Celeste Catena as Meg Murry. Kim Horsman will play Mrs. Which, Nestor Lozano Junior will play Mrs. Whatsit, and Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah will play Mrs. Who.

The cast also features Jahlen Barnes, Aidan deSalaiz, Christine Desjardins, Nick Dolan, Kelly Holiff, Evangelia Kambites, Robert Markus (Calvin O’Keefe), Masini McDermott, Erica Peck, Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Liam Tobin.

The creative team includes director Thomas Morgan Jones, set designer Teresa Przybylski, costume designer Robin Fisher, lighting designer Kimberly Purtell, composer and sound designer Deana H. Choi, and projection designer jaymez.

In this beloved family story, a young heroine leads her brother and a friend on a spectacular journey through space and time, from galaxy to galaxy, to save the world and rescue her father who mysteriously disappeared while working on an astounding scientific concept.

World Première


By Morris Panych

Music by David Coulter

Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Director: Morris Panych | Music Director: David Coulter

Movement Choreographer: Wendy Gorling | Dance Choreographer: Stephen Cota

Aug. 6 to Oct. 28 | Opens Aug. 24

Production support is generously provided by The Fabio Mascarin Foundation, by Jody and Deborah Hamade and by Martie and Bob Sachs. Support for the creation of Frankenstein Revived is generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.

 The thrilling new dramatic movement piece Frankenstein Revived will feature Charlie Gallant as Doctor Frankenstein, with Laura Condlln as Mary Shelley and Marcus Nance as the Creature.

The ensemble includes Sean Arbuckle, Carla Bennett, Devon Michael Brown (Henry Clerval), Amanda De Freitas, Josh Doig (swing), Mateo Galindo Torres, Eddie Glen, Bethany Kovarik (swing), Aaron Krohn, Ayrin Mackie, Anthony MacPherson, Heather McGuigan, Kyla Musselman, Trevor Patt and Jason Sermonia. 

The creative team includes director Morris Panych, music director David Coulter, movement choreographer Wendy Gorling, dance choreographer Stephen Cota, set designer Ken MacDonald, costume designer Dana Osborne and lighting designer Kimberly Purtell.

Focusing on Mary Shelley, who at just 18 wrote the most celebrated horror story in English literature, this exuberant and passion-filled theatrical movement-based piece explores the big question at the heart of her work: what does it mean to be human?


World Première Translation


By Eduardo De Filippo

In a new English translation by John Murrell

Director: Antoni Cimolino

May 6 to Sept. 29 | Opens June 3

Production support is generously provided by Robert and Mary Ann Gorlin, by Dr. M.L. Myers, by Cathy and John Phillips and by Sylvia Soyka.

Festival favourite Geraint Wyn Davies returns to the Festival to play Otto Marvuglia in Eduardo De Filippo’s dark comedy Grand Magic, in a new translation by John Murrell.

The production features Sarah Orenstein as Zaira Marvuglia.

The cast also includes David Collins (Arturo Recchia), Sarah Dodd (Signora Marino), Jordin Hall (Mariano D’Albino), Kim Horsman (Matilde), Stephen Jackman-Torkoff (Roberto Magliano), Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah (Signora Locascio), Andrew Robinson and Steve Ross (Gervasio Penna).

The creative team features director Antoni Cimolino, set designer Lorenzo Savoini, costume designer Francesca Callow, lighting designer Lorenzo Savoini and composer Wayne Kelso.

This funny, thought-provoking and deeply moving play will be presented in a new English translation by John Murrell. In it, we find Otto Marvuglia, a once master illusionist, reduced to performing magic for money at a seaside resort. When one of his tricks seems to go awry, a guest tumbles into a world of illusion as another escapes an unhappy reality.


By William Shakespeare

Adapted by Brad Fraser | Conceived by Jillian Keiley

Director: Jillian Keiley

Choreographer: Cameron Carver

May 23 to Sept. 28 | Opens June 17

Production support is generously provided by The Westaway Charitable Foundation.

Stephen Jackman-Torkoff will take on the title role in a revolutionary new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II by Brad Fraser, directed and conceived by Jillian Keiley.

They play alongside David Collins as John of Gaunt, Jordin Hall as Bolingbroke and Sarah Orenstein as Helen Percy, Earl of Northumberland.

The cast also includes Sarah Dodd (Lady Scroope), Mateo Galindo Torres, Charlie Gallant (Lord Willoughby), Marcus Nance (Abbot of Westminster), Andrew Robinson (Sir John Bushy), Steve Ross (Bishop of Carlisle) and Danielle Verayo.

The production will be choreographed by Cameron Carver, with set design by Michael Gianfrancesco, costume design by Bretta Gerecke and lighting design by Leigh Ann Vardy.

This is the story of a king who believes that God gives him the right to live above the rules and who ultimately suffers the consequences. The adaptation is set in a time of new-found freedom that is soon crushed – the late 1970s and early ’80s: when lives were lived at great volume against a suffocating strain of conservatism and fear. Fraser’s adaptation uses Shakespeare’s text for Richard II and draws from other Shakespeare works as well.  


By Alice Childress

Director: Sam White

June 20 to Oct. 1 | Opens July 14

Production support is generously provided by Peter and Carol Walters.

Cyrus Lane and Antonette Rudder will play the leading couple, Herman and Julia, in Alice Childress’s Wedding Band, directed by Sam White. They will be joined by Maev Beaty as Annabelle and Lucy Peacock as Herman’s Mother.

The cast also features Joella Crichton (Lula Green), Kevin Kruchkywich (the Bell Man) and Micah Woods (Nelson).

The creative team includes set designer Richard Morris, costume designer Sarah Uwadiae, lighting designer Kathy Perkins, composer Beau Dixon and sound designer Debashis Sinha.

This stellar work, written with great precision and powerful storytelling, gives an emotional portrayal of a relationship between a Black seamstress, Julia, and a white baker, Herman, in the shadow of the First World War and the 1918 flu epidemic in Charleston, South Carolina. The couple's deep love and commitment face the cruel racism of the Deep South in a revealing portrayal of interracial love. They are forced to navigate the societal racism of laws and culture, along with heartbreaking judgment from their own families and communities. 


World Première | Stratford Festival Commission


By Nick Green

Director: Andrew Kushnir

May 23 to June 17 | Opens June 1

Production support is generously provided by Alan Rowe and Bryan Blenkin and by three generations of the Schubert family. Support for the creation of Casey and Diana is generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.

Nick Green’s moving new play Casey and Diana features Sean Arbuckle as Thomas, Laura Condlln as Pauline, Krystin Pellerin as Diana and Sophia Walker as Vera.

The creative team includes director Andrew Kushnir, designer Joshua Quinlan, lighting designer Louise Guinand, and composer and sound designer Debashis Sinha.

Casey and Diana is set in 1991, as the Toronto AIDS hospice, Casey House, prepares for the historic visit of Diana, Princess of Wales. This potent and moving drama vividly captures a moment in time when a rebel Princess, alongside less famous caregivers and advocates, reshaped the course of a pandemic – and how those stricken by the virus found hard-won dignity, community and love in the face of astonishing hardship.


By Frances Koncan

Director: Yvette Nolan

July 8 to July 30 | Opens July 15

Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales and Charles E. Beall.

Frances Koncan’s funny and insightful play Women of the Fur Trade will feature Jenna-Lee Hyde as Cecilia, with Keith Barker as Louis Riel and Nathan Howe as Thomas Scott.

It will be directed by Yvette Nolan with set designer Samantha McCue, costume designer Jeff Chief and lighting designer Michelle Ramsay.

It is set in eighteen hundred and something-something, somewhere upon the banks of a Reddish River in Treaty One Territory, where three very different women with a preference for 21st-century slang sit in a fort sharing their views on life, love and the hot nerd Louis Riel. This lively historical satire of survival and cultural inheritance shifts perspectives from the male gaze onto women’s power in the past and present through the lens of the rapidly changing world of the Canadian fur trade. 


By William Shakespeare

Director: Peter Pasyk

Aug. 23 to Oct. 1 | Opens Sept. 9

Production support is generously provided by the Tremain family. The appearance of members of the Birmingham Conservatory in Love's Labour’s Lost is generously supported by The Marilyn and Charles Baillie Fund and by Alice and Tim Thornton

The creative team for this beloved early comedy features director Peter Pasyk, set designer Julie Fox, lighting designer Arun Srinivasan, and composer and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne.

The cast will be announced at a later date.

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