When Artistic Director Daryl Cloran took the helm of the Citadel in 2016, he made it clear that his company would move forward from the theatre’s traditional past to pursue new and innovative productions. He started off with a bang last year when he unveiled the 2017-18 season — the first season he curated solo for the theatre — and announced that the season would include everything from Indigenous musical theatre to an off-Broadway spectacular. In his announcement of the 2018-19 season last week, he’s shown that his momentum is far from slowing down.
The 2018-19 season begins with Once, a 2011 musical based on an earlier film telling the story of an Irish singer/vacuum cleaner repair guy and a Czech woman living in Dublin. Its deceptively simple plot about a relationship between two people is heartwarming, touching, and sometimes devastating to watch. It’s no wonder that Once won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical that year. It is not a production to miss.
Following Once is Redpatch, a Canadian play about an Indigenous soldier fighting in World War I. Redpatch takes the concept of a classic war play and turns it upside down by shifting the focus onto Indigeneity and the horrors of war. The show follows a young Metis soldier from his home on Vancouver Island through his journey in the military and to the battlefields of France.
Next is Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly. This “sequel” to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice follows Elizabeth’s younger sister Mary as she entertains her own romantic suitors. And if you’re looking for more holiday cheer, A Christmas Carol will be returning for its 20th season at the Citadel, continuing what has become a Christmas tradition for many in the Edmonton community.
The new year will see Sweat hit the Citadel stage, a Pulitzer-winning 2015 play that centres on the working-class of Reading, Pennsylvania — a town with a poverty rate of 40%, making it one of the poorest towns in America. Sweat follows a number of factory workers who struggle with poverty, crime, union disputes, and the ever-present threat that “You could wake up tomorrow and all your jobs are in Mexico.”
In a stark contrast to the heavy drama of Sweat, the next play is a jovial Broadway musical that has dazzled audiences around the world. Matilda is the classic children’s story of a precocious young girl with the power of telekinesis. I’ll leave describing the show’s incredible sound and visuals to the cast of the 2016 revival themselves.
After Matilda comes the most intriguing duo of shows that the Citadel might have ever seen. The Party and The Candidate are two shows centring around the same story. The Party, which will be performed in the Citadel’s Club space, details the events leading up to an election and the political maneuvering that sets the scene for a major scandal that is documented in The Candidate, taking place in the MacLab Theatre. Both shows will be performed at the same times and have the same cast, who will spend their nights racing between theatres to make their cues at both shows. A chaotic duo of comedies, this innovative form of theatre will entice audiences, and encourage them to buy tickets to two shows instead of one — which Cloran himself admits is “audacious.”
The last play of the season is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with a twist: the stage will be shared by deaf and hearing actors, who will weave accessibility and inclusivity into the production. This collaboration between the Citadel, The Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program, and Sweden’s National Deaf Theatre is an unprecedented undertaking that will round off this thrilling season.
This impressive season will be complemented by the Citadel’s second series, Beyond the Stage, which takes place exclusively in the intimate Club space. Bands, singers, and cabaret performances are still to be announced, but we’ve been teased with three shows that we’ll definitely be seeing: The first is Slight of Mind, a new production that will move the audience between different areas of the Citadel’s building. Next is Nassim, a play with no rehearsal, will feature a new actor every night who must perform with a script they have never seen before. And finally, Farren Timoteo will return to the Citadel for the second time with his one-man show, Made in Italy. If these shows are any indication of the rest of the Beyond the Stage series, it’s looking like it will live up to the Citadel’s grandiose mainstage shows.
Keep your eyes peeled in the next few months for tickets — the 2018-19 season, like the one before it, is shaping up to be a masterful curation of talent.