Stratford flies over the cuckoo’s nest with 2014 season.
by Christian Baines
Uh… King John?
Eschewing the obvious choices, Cimolino will bring his own directing talents to King Lear, reassuring theatre-goers who secretly resent their children that it could indeed be much, much worse. Cimolino is set to explore a certain ‘madness as liberation’ theme here, which ties in nicely to as a tragic flipside to Midsummer. If the comedy of fairies indulges madness as the beginnings of love, Lear inflicts it as a cruel end as family falls apart. It just wouldn’t be a season of Shakespeare without a good train-wreck in the halls of power, and if it’s delivered well, this looks set to be one of 2014’s highlights.
Speaking of relevance, let’s talk musicals. Now, I absolutely applaud both Stratford and Shaw for their dedication to including musicals in their respective seasons, and I’m sure the inclusion of Crazy for You will thrill many. I’m just not particularly one of them. Even as a confirmed musicals fan, I find the shows of the pre-R&H era (familiar song book with a contrived plot weaved around it) to be hit and miss at best and they do seem to be a bit of a ‘thing’ right now. Okay, yes, Crazy for You hit Broadway in 1992, but as a reworking of the Gershwins’ 1930 musical Girl Crazy it still falls into this category. The show also seems an odd choice with the corpse of Broadway’s Nice Work If You Can Get It still on ice awaiting its national tour. Still, if the currently touring revival of Anything Goes proves one thing, it’s that all it takes is the right production to make these dinosaurs sing, and Stratford has put the show in the excellent hands of Donna Feore, the director behind one of their biggest successes this year, Fiddler on the Roof. On balance, I’m cautiously optimistic.
See also the official press release announcing the season.
See also David Sklar's interview with Antoni Cimolino, prior to the season announcement