Stratford Shakespeare Festival kicks off 2010 season with ’As You Like It’

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STRATFORD, Ont. — Actors Christopher Plummer and Colm Feore were among those in the audience Monday night as the curtain rose on the 58th season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Ontario’s Minister of Culture Michael Chan, making his first visit to Stratford, was also seated for the gala opening of “As You Like It,” helmed by artistic director Des McAnuff.

Plummer, who will star as Prospero in “The Tempest” later this month, said he was absolutely delighted to be back and he loves the festival.

General director Antoni Cimolino called the production of “As You Like It” “nothing short of magical.”

The show kicked off a week of openings, which include Tuesday’s launch of “Kiss Me, Kate,” directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle.

On Wednesday, “The Winter’s Tale” opens, followed by “Evita” on Thursday and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” on Friday.

Weekend openings include “Peter Pan” on Saturday and “Do Not Go Gentle” on Sunday.

And McAnuff says he hopes this season “will be one of Stratford’s most memorable.”

“As You Like It” stars Andrea Runge as the heroine, Rosalind, which is said to be the biggest female role in the Shakespearean canon.

Runge made her Stratford debut last year as Cecily in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” In playing Rosalind at Stratford, she follows in the footsteps of such stage luminaries as Irene Worth, Maggie Smith, and Roberta Maxwell.

“As You Like It” also stars Ben Carlson as Touchstone, Brent Carver as Jaques and Paul Nolan as Orlando.

The Stratford festival’s 2010 season runs until Oct. 31.

Geographic location: STRATFORD, Ontario, Paris Orlando

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