Revival of the smash hit Shirley Valentine

The Canadian Stage Company continues its 2008/2009 season with the revival of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine. Reuniting with director Roy Surette, Nicola Cavendish reprises her tour de force performance in this heart-warming and touching story about one woman’s journey of self-discovery.

Shirley Valentine is the story of a frustrated, middle-aged, housewife from Liverpool whose children have left home and whose husband ignores her. Bored, fed up with routine and feeling that life has passed her by, she accepts an invitation from a friend to a vacation in sunny Greece and rediscovers her zest for life and love.

The play premiered in Liverpool in 1986 and went on to become a huge hit in London’s West End in 1988 and on Broadway in 1990. It was made into a tremendously popular motion picture in 1989. It won the 1989 Olivier Award for Best Comedy as well as Tony and Drama Desk Awards and garnered two Academy Award nominations.

The play, starring Nicola Cavendish and directed by Roy Surette, had its Canadian premiere at the Vancouver Playhouse on February 14, 1990. Cavendish went on to win a Jessie Award for her outstanding performance. In 1992, the production had its Toronto premiere at The Canadian Stage Company’s Bluma Appel Theatre. After breaking the Company’s box-office records and garnering another award for Cavendish, this time a Dora, the production was brought back due to popular demand in 1993.

Since its North American debut, the production has played Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Each time, Cavendish reunited with director Roy Surette, costume designer Phillip Clarkson and stage manager Rick Rinder, breathing new life into the production. It has been so immensely popular that the virtuoso actress and her dream team have been playing the one-woman show across the country for almost two decades. This Toronto revival will reunite them once again.

“I have always had a very close emotional connection to Nicola Cavendish and Shirley Valentine. The play has been a landmark for me throughout my career,” states Artistic Producer Martin Bragg. “During my time at the Vancouver Playhouse we were thrilled to give this play its Canadian premiere in 1990. Nicola went on to garner a Jessie Award for her outstanding performance. It was a part of my first season with The Canadian Stage Company in 1992, becoming one of the biggest hits in the history of the Company and garnering another award for Nicola, this time a Dora. Each time I revisit this piece, I am struck by its enduring themes and emotional resonance, not to mention the inspiring leading lady.”

Bragg continues, “It is fitting that the final production of my tenure at Canadian Stage is Shirley Valentine. This production represents two things that have been very important to me in my time here: the presentation of a simple story well told, and the creation of a family of artists that continues to collaborate on our stages. I could not think of a more appropriate play to bookend my time with this company, and hope you are as moved by this story as I continue to be.”

Originally from Liverpool, England, Willy Russell is one of the most successful playwrights of his generation. Director Roy Surette is originally from Vancouver. He has been Artistic and Executive Director of Montreal’s Centaur Theatre Company since November 2007.

A co-production with Montreal’s Centaur Theatre Company, where the production ran from January 27 to February 28, the play will transfer to the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto, March 23 to April 18, 2009.

“The irresistibly charming Nicola Cavendish in a role that seems to have been written with her in mind… Shirley has weathered the test of time.” – The Montreal Gazette

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