For the Shaw Festival, it will be a summer season in the great outdoors.
In addition to two previously announced plays that will be performed on outdoor stages, the company unveiled its “Outdoors @ The Shaw” lineup on Thursday. It will include nearly 100 shows and events taking place in five outdoor performance spaces on the grounds of the Festival Theater and the Royal George Theater in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The series will run from July 10 to October 9 and will feature a large portion of the Shaw cast of cast.
After canceling its entire 2020 season, the company returns to the plays on July 9 with an outdoor premiere of the comedy “Charley’s Aunt” on a canopy stage in the Shaw Festival Gardens, before moving inside. Royal George Theater later this summer.
Shaw executive director Tim Jennings feels the “buzz of activity and anticipation” after the long hiatus.
“If these 15+ months have taught us anything, it’s that we all miss a lot of real human encounters and shared experiences,” he said.
The outdoor series is a nod to the company’s Fair & Fete festivities of the past, providing a carnival / theater atmosphere with lots of music.
Among the shows will be “Gatsby’s Jazz, Sonny’s Blues” with a Great Gatsby theme directed by Philip Akin, “The Duke and Two Irenes” with music by Duke Ellington and songs by Irene Higginbotham and Irene Kitchings, and Sondheim’s dark musical “Assassins in concert.”
There will also be shows that will highlight the festival and its surroundings. “Fairground”, created by ensemble member Sanjay Talwar, is a “guided hike” through the grounds of the Festival Theater set to music by a group of five musicians.
Sanjay also created “Shawground”, a site tour in the spirit of a Victorian fair.
The informative “What’s in Your Songbook” will be an interactive evening with Shaw artists opening their audition songbooks and discussing what their choices mean to them.
Theater companies across Ontario may begin offering outdoor performances with capacity limits during Stage 2 of the provincial reopening, from June 30.
On Thursday, performing arts venues were finally informed that the capacity would be 25% “of the usual outdoor capacity” for an event.
Indoor performances are not permitted until Stage 3, which can take place 21 days after the start of Stage 2. This could mean that all four of Shaw’s theaters could reopen on July 21.
All “Outdoors @ The Shaw” shows are weather dependent. Tickets go on sale June 29 at Friends of the Shaw and July 6 to the general public, available at www.shawfest.com or by calling 1-800-511-7429.