Stage Door News

Stratford: Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII” has begun previews at the Stratford Festival

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Henry VIII, Shakespeare’s thrilling drama about a pivotal moment in history, is now in previews at the Studio Theatre. The production officially opens on Wednesday, May 29, and early demand for tickets has led to an extended run until October 20.

Church and state collide when England’s king defies papal authority by seeking to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon, and marry the young, beautiful Anne Boleyn. The consequences will be epochal for the country – and calamitous for the king’s adviser, Cardinal Wolsey, who has been playing a dangerous game of his own.

Directed by Martha Henry, the production stars Jonathan Goad in the title role, with Rod Beattie as Cardinal Wolsey, Alexandra Lainfiesta as Anne Boleyn and Irene Poole as Queen Katherine. 

Artistic credits include Designer Francesca Callow, Lighting Designer Louise Guinand, Composer and Sound Designer Keith Thomas, Fight Director Anita Nittoly and Movement Director Valerie Moore

“When Antoni Cimolino and I discussed the possibility of me directing Henry VIII, it was one of the few plays of Shakespeare I had never been involved with,” says Henry, who is celebrating a remarkable 45 seasons at the Festival this year. “I knew it had been produced here only three times during the seven decades of the Festival’s history – and the only thing I knew about Henry VIII was that he had six wives, and I was pretty sure he had killed them all. What a beginning. I began to read. And I fell into one of the most romantic, brutal, political, revolutionary and fascinating periods in English history.” 

Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has programmed Henry VIII with a companion piece, the world première of Kate Hennig’s Mother’s Daughter, which examines the life of Henry and Katherine’s daughter, Mary.

“Both of these plays focus strongly on the roles of women in the kind of boundary-breaking that can shape history,” says Cimolino, reflecting on this season’s theme of Breaking Boundaries. “In Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon comes from a long line of royals. Henry truly loves her, as the bride of his youth, but he needs to take the world in another direction in order to achieve his goals. Her influence over Henry and the future of England was monumental – and her influence is also strongly felt in the final installment of Kate Hennig’s Queenmaker trilogy, in which we will see Katherine’s child, Mary, breaking boundaries in her own ways.”

For a deeper look into the life of Anne Boleyn, join members of the company in a dramatic reading of Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn, as part of the Forum’s WordPlay series (September 19). 

For tickets and a full list of the Forum events offered almost every day throughout the season, please visit:



By William Shakespeare
May 8 – October 20; opens Wednesday, May 29

Studio Theatre, 34 George Street East, Stratford, Ontario

Tickets: $35 to $150

Box office: 1-800-567-1600


The Stratford Festival’s 2019 season runs until November 3, featuring Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII, Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Private Lives, The Neverending Story, Mother’s Daughter, Nathan the Wise, The Front Page, The Crucible and Birds of a Kind.

Photo: Jonathan Goad as Henry VIII. © 2018 David Cooper.