September 26, 2008

Coward’s Approach ; Shaw to Concentrate on British Playwright Next Season


The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., seems to have a crush on Noel Coward.

The work of the famed British wit and prolific author and playwright will be the focus of the festival's 2009-10 season. The Shaw, under Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, will produce the 10 short plays of Coward's lauded collection "Tonight at 8:30," which includes comedy, tragedy and musical pieces. One of the plays, "Star Chamber," will be the lunchtime presentation in the Royal George Theatre. The remaining nine will be split up into three sections, each with its own director and theater. And, for those with super- human theatrical stamina, the festival will present all 10 plays in one day on two separate occasions during the season.

Careful not to diverge too far from its mission to present the work of the festival's namesake, George Bernard Shaw, the company will present two plays by the Irish playwright. The first is "The Devil's Disciple," Shaw's only play set in the United States, which looks at the Revolutionary War-era struggles between the American colonies and England. The second is Shaw's 1939 satire "In Good King Charles's Golden Days."

Following this year's well-received productions of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" and "Follies," the festival will produce the lauded composer's much-loved musical "Sunday in the Park With George."

John Osborne's "The Entertainer" will receive a limited-run production in the Festival Theatre Rehearsal Studio. The festival will also produce Garson Kanin's comedy "Born Yesterday," Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay's "Albertine in Five Times," and the Eugene O'Neill classic "A Moon for the Misbegotten," along with its annual reading series and educational seminars.

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Originally published by News Arts Writer.

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