After two years of sitting dormant, the Tom Patterson Theater in Stratford is officially open.
Construction of the $72 million theater was completed in 2020, but pandemic restrictions meant its first show was delayed until Tuesday.
Following a ribbon cutting ceremony full of pomp and circumstance, at 2 pm actors hit the stage for a performance of Richard III. The play has a special significance to the Stratford Festival.
In 1953 when the festival started, it was Richard III at the old Tom Patterson Theater that opened it.
On Tuesday, Stratford legend Colm Feore took the stage in the play’s title role, marking the start of a new era and what he said is a very important summer for the festival.
“It marks the first opportunity to say ‘we’re back,’” Feore said ahead of the performance. “We’re back together. We’re going to be in a room together sharing the space, and for so many reasons, that’s such an encouraging thing.”
Festival organizers said ticket sales have been strong this year and they’re anticipating more than 300,000 people to attend. That’s still shy of the 400,000 plus seen during pre-pandemic years, but ten times the size of last year’s scaled down event.
‘A SLEEPING BEAUTY’
The new Tom Patterson Theater was designed by Toronto-based architect Siamak Hariri. In a media release, the festival said the building was inspired by its riverside setting, with undulating walls of shimmering glass, hung with thin bronze mullions.
“We have waited years for this day to come,” Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino said of the opening. “This gorgeous theater has remained here like a sleeping beauty during this long pandemic.”
“Our architect, Siamak Hariri, has designed an inspiring space, which we believe will be the best theater room in North America, a space worthy of the exceptional work that has always been produced in this well-loved theatre.”
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