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Stratford festival unveils ’09 lineup

Sorkin, Thompson ready to reveal new plays

TORONTO — New plays from Aaron Sorkin and from Canadian writers including Judith Thompson are on the 2009 lineup for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, which marks Des McAnuff’s first season as solo artistic director.

Alongside the expected mix of classical plays and crowd-pleasing musicals, the lineup announced Monday reveals a strong emphasis on new work. McAnuff will reteam with Sorkin, with whom he worked on last season’s “The Farnsworth Invention.”

The current Stratford season, running through Nov. 9, was programmed by McAnuff in association with Don Shipley and Marti Maraden, but that duo resigned from the troika of artistic directors in March, citing personal and professional differences with McAnuff.

Shakespeare and his contemporaries will be represented by “Macbeth” (directed by McAnuff and starring Colm Feore), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (staged by Brit helmer David Grindley), “Julius Caesar” (directed by James MacDonald) and Ben Jonson’s “Bartholomew Fair,” staged by fest general director, Antoni Cimolino. Feore also will star in the title role of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” directed by his wife, Donna Feore.

The two big musicals will be Gary Griffin’s production of “West Side Story,” choreographed by Sergio Trujillo; and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” with McAnuff and musical stager Wayne Cilento in charge.

Also on the bill are A.C.T. head Carey Perloff’s production of “Phedre,” Brian Bedford directing and starring (as Lady Bracknell) in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Three Sisters” and a trio of Canadian scripts: “The Trespassers,” “Zastrozzi” and “Rice Boy.”

The Stratford season begins previews in April.

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