past accolades for guild festival theatre
“She Stoops to Conquer is great outdoor theatre in the Toronto east end, a summer must”
-Mooney on Theatre, 2017
“This show (Romeo & Juliet) contains a talented cast, a beautiful setting and Shakespeare that is accessible to all”
-Scarborough mirror, 2015
“My wife and I both work in the arts professionally and were in Ontario to see shows in Stratford and Shaw. A visit to Guild Festival Theatre turned out to be our favourite evening of the whole trip…the acting performances were stellar…with fresh takes on the classic work, The Importance of Being Earnest…Thank you for a wonderful night of theatre”
-Audience member from Charlotte, North Carolina, 2014
In 2013 Guild Festival Theatre garnered the Urban Hero Award for making a difference in the community.
Recent comments from our GoFundMe page as of March, 2018:
This is an example of how it is important to keep theatre thriving in our community, both professional and community theatre. There have been some other theatre groups that have recently closed including the wonderful Amicus Productions group. Let's keep live theatre a healthy part of our community!
- E.C. Jones, Guildwood 2.0
It’s a great night out. I was really impressed with the quality and professionalism of the production. What a shame it would be if our community lost this organization.
- Warren Court, Guildwood Resident
This is one of the best outdoor theatre experiences in Toronto. It would be a waste for this come to an end.
- Ramona Ricken, Donor
I have never been to one of the shows at the Guild and always intended to, so I will donate in hopes that it can continue.
- Megan Potestio, West Hill Resident/Donor
I saw my first Guildwood Festival Theatre show last season. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was blown away by the quality of the sets, wardrobe and best of all, the performers. I couldn't believe how lucky we are to have a theatre company like this in Scarborough, and in the most picturesque spot in the city. It just feels so special. A perfect storm of construction, terrible rain last summer, and their corporate partner pulling out means they may be forced to shutter this year. It would be such a shame to lose a local, Scarborough institution over that. Especially, now that the Guild Park & Gardens’ renovations are complete and it’s a gem in the city again. The restaurant at the Guild Inn Estate has opened, so you could even do dinner and a show this summer! The idea that we could be losing this amazing, local demonstration of the arts is very upsetting. I hope that a funding agency or corporate sponsor also recognizes how important the Guildwood Festival Theatre is!
- Lucy Veale, Guildwood Resident/Donor
We want to have something very special in our community and that being Guild Festival Theatre. Glad to help.
- Anonymous Donor
This is an amazing place which has just undergone a beautiful renovation. The Guild holds wonderful memories for me. I’m pleased to support their Festival Theatre.
- Ann McGill, Donor
I Feel so fortunate to live in a community where you can experience live theatre in an intimate atmosphere with high quality productions. Guildwood Park provided the perfect backdrop for sitting under the stars and enjoying the performances of the very talented actors. Hope to have the opportunity to attend more great shows in the coming years!
- Sue Carrington, Donor
When news that the Guild Festival Theatre was facing its “final curtain” hit social media, Guildwood residents were adamant to support this organization. After all, it was GFT that brought a unique, professional production to Guild Parks and Gardens while the Inn remained boarded up. With the Guild Inn revitalized, it only seems right that the GFT continue carrying out the legacy of Spencer and Rosa Clark by bringing arts and culture to our community. This campaign has demonstrated a great level of public interest in live theatre, with many comments referring to the high quality performances and vibrancy GFT delivers to the east end. We sincerely hope our efforts will keep Scarborough’s only professional theatre group running.
- Katie Vukovic – Guildwood resident/Go Fund Me Campaign Organizer
she stoops to conquer review
She Stoops to Conquer is great outdoor theatre in the Toronto east end, a summer must
July 21, 2017. By Allison Gerson. Mooney on theatre.
She Stoops to Conquer, currently being presented by Guild Festival Theatre, embodies many of the things I love about summer in Toronto. While others may head to the cottage, I am happiest travelling around the city to watch theatre outside. Both the setting, Guild Park in Scarborough, and the company were new to me. And I was happy I got the chance to expand my theatrical and geographic horizons.
She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith, was written in the 1770’s. The play is a comedy of manners and mistaken identity. Charles Marlow, a rich Londoner, is on his way to stay at the estate of Mr. Dick Hardcastle with hopes of meeting and marrying his daughter Kate. Through a practical joke by Kate’s step brother, Tony Lumpkin, Marlow mistakes the Hardcastle home for an inn. Marlow is painfully shy and intimidated by upper class women, but he becomes a rogue among the lower classes. Much hilarity ensues as Kate pretends to be the bar maid in order to woo her suitor.
Although the play has a somewhat complicated plot, with many twists and turns as the characters lie to and trick each other, I found it easy to follow and surprisingly modern. It was also very funny with some excellent performances. Subhash Santosh, as Tony Lumpkin, was the stand out of the night. He portrayed Lumpkin as a loveable goofball who doesn’t take anything seriously. No one, even his own mother, is safe from his schemes and jokes. But he truly means well. He just wants to drink, be merry, and pursue his own interests in horses and women.
My favourite scene was when Marlow, played by Alexander Oliver, first meets Kate Hardcastle (Laura Meadows). He is unable to speak with fear in her presence. Oliver played the scene with great physical comedy that had the audience in stitches. I thought he might actually faint from nervousness.
Brian Weber, as Dick Hardcastle, also deserves special mention. He was blustering with indignation yet masterfully gracious when Marlow mistakes him for an innkeeper. His relationship with Kate was warm and respectful. Though he prefers “old things” and doesn’t understand her interest in the latest fashions, he values her opinions and wants her to be happy.
My one complaint was the use of music throughout the play. There were brief snippets of harpsichord or strings that, I think, were supposed to serve as segues between scenes. They often started before the dialogue had stopped and then stopped abruptly in mid (musical) phrase, and I found the overall effect jarring.
The play is performed at the Greek theatre in the park, a marble structure saved from the old Bank of Toronto at the corner of Bay and King Streets in 1966. It’s a beautiful location, especially as the sun set and the lights came on. In fact, I wish I had arrived a little earlier to have had time to wander and explore the park more.
A tip – bring insect repellent! The mosquitos were out in force the night I attended. Also, it was quite dark by the end of the show. The paths back to the parking lot are uneven and not lighted, so be careful as you leave. But I’d definitely recommend making the trip out to Guild Park for She Stoops to Conquer. It’s yet another example of the many great summer theatre opportunities Toronto has to offer.
Romeo and Juliet Reviews
Jul 24, 2015
A well-deserved standing ovation was given to the cast and crew of Guild Festival Theatre’s opening night performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Greek Stage at the Guild Park.
The classic love story by William Shakespeare is the quintessential story about two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet (Jovan Kocic, Lindsey Middleton), who are determined to be together despite a longstanding feud between their families.
If thoughts of Shakespeare conjure up awful memories of having to read or act out scenes from one of his plays in high school, this production can change your mind.
Well-performed, easily understood and a fluent, beautiful story, this is the way everyone should see Romeo & Juliet. The way the dialogue is spoken, the modern dress and the performances made it completely understandable without taking away from the original story or dialogue.
A masquerade ball at the Capulet’s, the home of Juliet, her mother Lady Capulet (Kaya Bucholc) and her father, referred to as Capulet (Michael McLeister), is promised to be a night good company and entertainment, and where Romeo meets Juliet.
Accompanied by Mercutio (Marcus Bernacci) and Benvolio (Emilio Vieira), the three are amongst their “enemies” but are hidden by their masks, Making Lady Capulet and her husband, Paris (Shawn Parsons), (who is betrothed to Juliet) and Tybalt (Marcus Haccius) none the wiser.
However, amongst the loud music and dancing at the party, there comes a moment where Romeo and Juliet come together and profess their love for one another. It is a touching scene, where everything becomes quiet and their chemistry louder than the music.
As they embrace, Nurse (Laura Meadows) happens upon the forbidden couple, and they vow to meet later that evening. Not wanting to live without each other, they decide to marry in secret and tell their families later. As in many love stories nothing goes as planned, and the two are up against some impossible odds at happiness and some hard choices to make.
Besides being beautifully performed by a cast of amazingly talented actors, a true testament to their skills, as well as director Jamie Robinson, is that the story was the star of the show.
The cast is a great mixture of fresh theatre graduates and seasoned veterans including Christopher Kelk as Friar Laurence, Gordon Gresko as Montague, and McLeister as Capulet. Their professionalism and talent bring an authenticity and realness to this show, and they embody their roles amazingly well.
Bernacci’s portrayal of the outgoing and eccentric Mercutio is amazing. His comedic talent and free-spirited portrayal gives the audience many memorable and funny moments. Scenes with Bernacci, Vieira as Benvolio and Kocic as Romeo are some of the funniest and entertaining ones in the show.
The ladies also shine in this show, most notably Meadows as Juliet’s faithful nurse and Bucholc as Lady Capulet. They give strong performances, especially in scenes with Juliet.
Kocic and Middleton are fantastic as Romeo and Juliet. Their chemistry is believable and these two talented performers are fantastic both individually, and in scenes together.
This show contains talented cast, a beautiful setting and Shakespeare that is accessible to all. The production is dedicated to founding artistic director of Guild Festival Theatre, Sten Erik, who died suddenly this past April. It was his dream to stage Romeo & Juliet, and this cast and crew undoubtedly make him proud.
The Theatre Reader:
July 22, 2015
Guild Festival Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet features a strong cast pouring their hearts into the tragic love story.
Director Jamie Robinson worked diligently to ensure the late Guild FestivalTheatre’s Founder and Artistic Director, Sten Eirik’s, dream of bringing Romeo and Juliet to life on the Greek Stage at Guild Park was beautifully executed.
The play unfolds against a stunning backdrop of intricately carved columns and Corinthian capitals that were saved from the 1966 demolition of the downtown Bank of Toronto to form Guild Park’s Greek Stage in 1981. The luscious greenery, beautiful flowers and expansive surroundings offer a one-of-a-kind environment to enjoy the play. However, having seen a Sunday matinee on the hottest day of the summer I highly recommend seeing an evening show or attending a Sunday matinee when it’s overcast because there is very little protection from the sun.
Romeo & Juliet opens with classical music that abruptly changes to Pink’s song “So What” which signals the modern day setting. The first scene features a fight between enemy members of the Montague family wearing blue and the Capulet family wearing red. I thought this was an excellent way of differentiating the families, but was disappointed it did not continue throughout the play because it would have furthered the separation between the feuding families.
Both the costumes and set were fairly simplistic. The costumes featured the younger male characters in jeans and t-shirts, while the older male characters wore dress shirts and pants. Juliet (Lindsey Middleton) wore light coloured dresses to emphasize her youth and Lady Capulet (Kaya Bucholc) wore dark coloured dresses to cast a serious tone onto her character. The set featured two benches, tables, and chairs in a dark wood finish to contrast the light marble finish of the backdrop. Anything more would have crowded the set and taken away from the natural beauty of the stage.
The cast was predominantly made up of recent graduates from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College Theatre programs, as well as the York University Acting Conservatory. The young cast members were very talented and delivered emotional performances. I was intrigued and confused by the choice to have such a large age gap between some of the cast members. Lady Capulet and Juliet looked very close in age, while Capulet (Michael McLeister) looked like their grandfather. I feel that using hair and makeup to age Lady Capulet would have made the age difference less noticeable.
I was thoroughly impressed by Friar Laurence (Christopher Kelk) who displayed the perfect balance of care for the young lovers and turmoil over their tragic fate. Both Romeo (Jovan Kocic) and Juliet captured the essence of young love and teenage defiance. Juliet’s Nurse (Laura Meadows) gave an exceptional performance that encapsulated the comic relief, love, and protection Shakespeare’s Nurse represents.
REVIEW: SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO & JULIET (GUILD FESTIVAL THEATRE)
Guild Festival Theatre presents a contemporaryRomeo & Juliet in Toronto’s Guild Park
Guild Festival Theatre’s contemporary production of Romeo & Julietat the Greek Stage in Guild Park has a slew of commendable performances and impressively high production values, especially considering that it’s set outdoors.
The evening began with an introduction to the history of Guild Parkand the sad news that the founder of Guild Festival Theatre recently passed away. Some of the long-time patrons may have heard the spiel already, but my companion and I really appreciated this touch as this was the first time we had visited the park.
Unfortunately, both of us also agreed that the beginning of the production lacked energy and some of the performances felt strangely stiff. There were still a few early stand-outs however: Emilio Vieira was utterly compelling as the jovial Benvolio and Gordon Gresko ably provided comic relief as the servant Peter.
Despite a slightly lackluster start, the entire production picked up as soon as Jovan Kocic’s Romeo met Lindsey Middleton’s Juliet; their off-the-charts chemistry seemed to rejuvenate every preceding scene. Kocic and Middleton’s performances in the famous balcony scene had the perfect blend of youthful passion and awkwardness, and it was hard to take your eyes off them whenever they were onstage together.
The relationships within the Capulet and Montague familial groups also became more and more convincing as the production continued. There was great camaraderie and humour between Middleton’s Juliet and Laura Meadows’s Nurse, and the friendship of the charming Montague boys was appealingly played by Vieira, Kocic, and Marcus Bernacci as Mercutio.
While this is not the first time that Romeo and Juliet had been set in contemporary times, I thought there were many directorial choices that made this version especially successful. Kocic and Middleton not only looked the part, but director Jamie Robinson smartly drew inspiration from familiar modern-day teenage archetypes for characterization (Romeo is re-envisioned as an “emo hipster,” complete with hangover-hiding sunglasses). Even though the speech was written centuries ago, almost every character in the play still felt like someone you could find walking down a street in Toronto.
Additionally, many of the hidden comedic wordplays were nicely highlighted by Robinson through a few exaggerated gestures and the large but beautiful space was always creatively used.
Although some of the fighting choreography felt a little repetitive to me and the musical mash-ups could’ve been better mixed, Amanda Wong also did some great work with colour-coordinated costuming and Amanda Gougeon’s lighting design effectively complimented the scenic mood, especially during the emotional second act. But best of all, despite the white noise from insects and wind, I could still hear almost every word.
Finally, I must warn the Shakespeare enthusiasts that this production is condensed. While there were a few cuts that seemed iffy to my companion, most of the plot was preserved.