“Mini-Me” Shakespeare at Intimate Coal Mine Theatre, Previews begin this Tuesday, Jan. 28th

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By Dennis Kucherawy, corktown.ca

As the world this year celebrates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, Toronto’s new Groundling Theatre launches its first production of the Bard at the popular, intimate Coal Mine Theatre at 1454 Danforth, slightly west of Coxwell Ave.

Unlike productions distinguished by pageantry, opulent sets and lavish costumes in theatres seating 1,800 and more, this inaugural production of “The Winter’s Tale” takes place in a storefront theatre seating approximately 80 people with a 10-member cast. If Mike Myers’ spy Austin Powers had been theatrical, he might have called it “mini-me” Shakespeare.

Previews begin tomorrow night and Wednesday, Jan. 26th and 27th with specially priced $25 tickets. It runs until Saturday, Feb. 20th. Opening night this Thursday is sold-out while the best available seating is Feb. 14th, 16th and 17th.

With regular priced tickets at only $35, the run is sure to sell out quickly.

Stratford veterans Tom McCamus, (who appears in the five-time Oscar-nominated movie “Room”,) and Tony Award-winner Brent Carver lead a stellar cast of actors from Toronto and the Shaw and Stratford Festivals including Lucy Peacock who plays Paulina. She has performed in approx. 30 of Shakespeare’s plays during 28 seasons at Stratford.

Music is by George Meanwell. Direction by Graham Abbey, acclaimed TV, film and stage actor and veteran of many Stratford productions.

“The Winter’s Tale,” one of the Bard’s last plays, is “considered to be one of (his) greatest masterpieces,” says the company’s press release. “(It) chronicles the descent of King Leontes of Sicilia into a world of jealousy, murder and conspiracy when he falsely accuses his Queen, Hermione, of an infidelity with his oldest (and best) friend, King Polixenes.

“Upon receiving news that his wife and young son have died under the strain of public humiliation, and believing his newborn daughter is not his own, the vengeful King orders the child to be abandoned on the remote shores of Bohemia, where divine intervention plants the seeds of forgiveness and rebirth, and awakens the possibility of faith in all of us.”

About Groundling Theatre:

Founded in 2011, the Toronto-based company is committed to producing imaginative, original and accessible productions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as works inspired by Shakespeare, in an effort to educate and inspire a new generation of audiences and artists, its press material says.

By taking Shakespeare out of its original context, Groundling Theatre hopes to re-examine and re-interpret the canon, allowing audiences old and new alike to relate the timeless themes contained in Shakespeare’s plays to their own world and the issues relevant to a contemporary Canadian context.

Groundling intends to hire top classical actors, directors and designers throughout Canada to produce excellent productions of Shakespeare in Toronto. It also plans to nurture young Canadian talent through such means as mentorship and apprenticeship programs, preshow talks, seminars to inspire a new generation of artists dedicated to Shakespeare’s work.

Show and ticket information:

Previews: Jan. 26th and 27th

Opening: January 28th (Sold out)

Closing: Feb. 20th

Shows nightly at 7:30 p.m, Tuesday to Sunday (Mondays dark.)

Tickets: $35

Previews: $25

Rush: $30 at the door, cash only. (Ltd.)

Groundling Seats: $20, only at the door. Cash only.

(Very comfortable cushions on the floor)

Group rate: $20 for groups of 15+

Pay What You Can: Sundays – Ltd. Available at the door

(HST) included in the price.

To order tickets and for more information, visit: www.groundlingtheatre.com.