Actors cast in Stratford Festival’s 'Chicago' asked to 'check-in' with staff to ensure they're still fit for their roles
Some artists performing in a rescheduled show at the Stratford Festival needed to check in with creative staff to make sure they're still right for their roles.
"Chicago" was scheduled to hit the Stratford stage in the spring of 2020, but the pandemic hit and changed everything.
"This has been a devastating time for everybody in the theatre,” said Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director.
The plan is to have the production on the festival stage in 2022, with details set to be finalized by the end of 2021.
Cimolino said all 25 artists who were cast in 2020 had to meet with creative staff, to make sure they’re still the right fit.
“Which on some level is the careful and appropriate thing to do after that much time has passed,” said Cimolino.
Ali Momen is in the Toronto production "Come From Away." He said he did not have to re-audition for his role in that show after the break but said he sympathizes with many artists.
“The truth is not many people have had the privilege of persevering and enduring 18 to 20 months of not working,” said Momen.
Stratford Festival officials called the term "audition" only a technical term.
“An audition but really it was a check-in. These are people we know and respect but two years have gone by so we wanted to just see where everyone was at and see if people needed support,” said Cimolino.
“Nothing in Equity's agreement with the Stratford Festival (on any other theatre engager) obligates an artist and engager to each other once an engagement contract is terminated or completed,”
Lynn McQueen with Canadian Actors' Equity Association, the union representing the actors, said in a statement.
The artistic director said the majority of performers will be re-cast in the new production. He added that it’s also important to coordinate schedules.
“There's just a few who have found other opportunities or are on to other things,” Cimolino said. “The festival is a repertory company which means we don't have people just do one play.”
Matt Demers, a film critic, said he hopes people do not lose their jobs.
“Some will say 'hey that’s the business that you got into, things happen.' Well, you've got a look at it as well we’re coming off a worldwide pandemic, maybe not the best time to start changing what you had planned in 2020,” Demers said.
The choreography might be revised for the 2022 production, details that will be worked out in the coming months. How big a production it will be is also still up in the air, depending on what restrictions allow.
“(We plan) to make it an exciting a production as can possibly be,” said Cimolino.