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Theatre & Performance Five plays to see in and around Toronto this spring and summer

Colm Feore follows in the footsteps of such legends as William Hutt in playing King Lear at the Stratford Festival this year.

Don Dixon

Stratford Festival: King Lear

The past three King Lears at the Stratford Festival were legends William Hutt, Christopher Plummer and Brian Bedford; now we get to see how stage and screen star Colm Feore measures up in the father of all roles. Equally exciting: Two of Toronto's top actresses, Maev Beaty and Liisa Repo-Martell, are making their Stratford debuts as the thankless children sharper than a serpent's tooth, Goneril and Regan. Stratford Festival, May 5 through Oct. 10.

Theatre 20: Company

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Theatre 20 is reviving Stephen Sondheim's 1970 marriage-minded musical with a cast of the country's best singer-actors – notably, Broadway vets Brent Carver, Louise Pitre and Steven Sutcliffe. And just to mix things up, it's throwing in a star better known for (big, fat, Greek) weddings: Nia Vardalos. Long-time Stratford star Dan Chameroy is at the centre of it all as commitment-phobe Bobby, while Gary Griffin, known for astute stagings of Sondheim in Chicago, directs. Berkeley Street Theatre, June 21 through July 13.

Shaw Festival: The Philadelphia Story

Philip Barry wrote the part of Tracy Lord in his 1939 romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story for Katharine Hepburn, who then went on to take the same role in the film. This summer in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., it's Moya O'Connell playing Lord, a beautiful socialite whose marriage plans are complicated by the arrival of her ex-husband and a tabloid reporter. As there is no one more Hepburnian that you can name in the country than O'Connell, expect sass and sizzle. Shaw Festival, May 15 through Oct. 25.

2b Theatre Company: The God That Comes

In Hawksley Workman's one-man, rock 'n' roll retelling of The Bacchae, he plays the titular god of wine and walks-of-shame, a woman who runs away to join his mountaintop orgies, and a king who wants to shut the good times down. After a sold-out sneak peek at SummerWorks Festival two years ago, the road-tested indie hit comes back to town for a solid month. Tarragon Theatre, June 3 through 29.

Canadian Rep Theatre: Dead Metaphor

George F. Walker's dark comedy about an Afghanistan vet readjusting (and not readjusting) to civilian life in Canada finally makes it to Toronto, a year after the popular Canadian playwright pulled the script from the schedule at Factory Theatre when founder Ken Gass was fired. Canadian Rep Theatre, Gass's new organization, is presenting it as part of the off-Mirvish season – the cast includes rising stars Noah Reid and Haley McGee. Panasonic Theatre, May 20 through June 8.

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