The Stratford Festival launches into a season devoted in part to classical Greek drama, one segment being the bloody, vengeful tale of the House of Atreus. In a fascinating blend of styles, the festival begins with Agamemnon (the original by Aeschylus) and then turns to Jean Giraudoux's Electra and Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist-tinged The Flies. A great cast - including Karen Robinson, Walter Borden, Steve Cumyn and Maria Vacratsis - makes the trio of shows a sure bet. They preview June 13 to 15, open June 27 and 28 and run to August 29 and 30 at the Studio Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
I've been waiting years to see the superb Diane D'Aquila take on one of Shakespeare's most fascinating women, the sensual Cleopatra, in Antony And Cleopatra. Stratford casts her opposite the excellent Peter Donaldson in this look at a pair of older lovers whose primal urges shake the foundations of the Roman and the Egyptian empires. Runs to September 27 at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
Stratford continues Peter Hinton's The Swanne, an epic look at the Victorian era and the possibility that the legitimate ruler of the British Isles isn't Victoria but a black man born on the wrong side of the sheets. Part Two, Princess Charlotte (The Acts Of Venus), with Hinton directing, features the cream of the Stratford ensemble, among them Diane D'Aquila, Steve Cumyn, Margot Dionne, John Dolan and Karen Robinson. Previews August 29, opens September 3 and continues to September 28 at the Studio Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
All in the family
Actor Susan Coyne took on a new career as a playwright this past year, notably in a piece about an incident in Anton Chekhov's life. Now she turns to one of his classic works, Three Sisters, which she's translated for the Shaw Festival. Artistic director Jackie Maxwell directs Kelli Fox, Tara Rosling and Caroline Cave as the siblings. Runs to August 2 at the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 1-800-511-7429.
This year's mystery at the Shaw Festival isn't a whodunit but a did-she-do-it. Sharon Pollock's Blood Relations takes a new look at the Lizzie Borden story, with Lizzie and an actor friend re-enacting the events of the family axe murders for which Lizzie was found innocent. Eda Holmes directs Laurie Paton and Jane Perry in the key roles. Runs to November 30 at the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 1-800-511-7429.
The Shaw Festival launches Michel Marc Bouchard's The Coronation Voyage, an intriguing tale set on a transatlantic liner that's sailing from Quebec to London for the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II. Onboard are a Mafia chief, a federal politician, his anti-anglo wife and a blackmailing diplomat with a yen for young boys. Director Jackie Maxwell's cast includes Jim Mezon, Peter Krantz, Donna Belleville and Dylan Trowbridge. Previews begin June 24, opens July 5 and runs to November 1 at the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 1-800-511-7429.
The fifth season at the outdoor, Shakespeare-focused Resurgence Theatre brings in a new pair of directors, though they're hardly unknown artists. Joseph Ziegler leads Love's Labour's Lost (July 18 to August 31), while Rosemary Dunsmore helms Measure For Measure (July 22 to August 30). Company members include Matt Deslippe, Paul Fauteux, Jacklyn Francis, Stephen Jennings, Peter Van Wart, Lee Wilson and Sarah Wilson. Fairy Lake Park, Newmarket. 1-905-954-1571.
Bard by the Bay
Back for its second year, Theatre by the Bay turns to the Bard's surefire romantic tragedy of young love, Romeo And Juliet. Mark Wilson leads a cast headed by Christopher Ralph and Erin Francis, supported by Brett Christopher, Brian Marler, Hume Baugh, Patrick Conner, Kerry Ann Doherty and Paula Wolfson. Previews from August 13, opens August 16 and runs to September 8 at Heritage Park, Barrie. 1-705-735-9243.