Veteran director Gary Griffin will return in 2012 to the world-renowned Stratford Festival in Canada to stage the musical, 42nd Street. The return engagement is all the sweeter because next year is the 60th anniversary of the Stratford Festival, and Griffin will be the sole participating Chicago artist.
Indeed, Stratford has become annual gig for Griffin as he’s been north of the border for three consecutive years, scoring artistic and personal successes with his productions of West Side Story, Evita and—this year—Camelot. Several other Chicago-connected big names also were at the Stratford Festival this year, writer/director Frank Galati and actor Brian Dennehy (a member of the Goodman Theatre Artistic Collective). But Griffin will be flying solo in Ontario come 2012, a celebratory season dedicated chiefly to Canadian artists and playwrights. But with 42nd Street, Griffin will stage a quintessential “New Yawk” showbiz story.
The Stratford Festival now ranks along side the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the New York City Center Encore! Series as one of Griffin’s three home bases. He remains associate artistic director of Chicago Shakes, and he’s staged five shows for Encore!, most recently a heartfelt and gloriously-sung production of the Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson rarity, Lost in the Stars, last February. His most recent show for Chicago Shakespeare Theater was this season’s well-received As You Like It.
Griffin frequently is identified with musicals and/or large and lavish shows, but his current Chicago project proves he can go small-scale, too. Griffin staged the one-character play, The Detective’s Wife, at Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, utilizing the troupe’s original, tiny 50-seat space at the back of Books-on-Vernon. The world premiere by Keith Huff plays through July 31. Coincidentally, Writers’ Theatre founder and artistic director Michael Halberstam is a veteran of the Stratford Festival where he cut his teeth as a young actor in the 1980’s.