Stage Door News

Stratford: Much-loved Stratford Festival actor Keith Dinicol dies at age 69

Monday, November 22, 2021

Canadian actor Keith Dinicol is being remembered as a “much-loved” member of the Stratford Festival’s acting company, whose decades of contributions left a lasting impression on the national theatre community.

“While he played a wide range of parts in drama and tragedy, his generous, joyful and energetic personality made him a natural and gifted comedian,” Antoni Cimolino, the Festival’s artistic director, said in a statement. “Just as he made all his colleagues happy to be at his side, he brought delight and laughter to the hearts of countless audiences.”

Sam Dinicol, one of three children Keith and his wife Emma raised in Stratford during 29 seasons with the Festival, confirmed Saturday on Facebook that Keith died suddenly of a stroke late last week.

He was 69.

“While words cannot describe the shock and grief we are feeling right now, I can summon a few to tell you about the good man Keith Dinicol was,” Sam wrote. “My Dad will be remembered by many as a gifted actor. He was one of the finest classical character actors to ever grace the Canadian stage. He was rightly proud of his work. But he was even prouder of his family.”

Keith and Emma moved to Victoria, B.C., last year, where they were spending more time with their grandchildren, according to Sam’s post. Keith was passing on his love of the stage by helping with monologue rehearsals and attending theatre classes. “This is a small snapshot of who my dad was,” Sam wrote. “An extraordinarily loving father, grandfather, and husband. A people person with a big heart who was fiercely loyal to his people. As a man, he was the gold standard.”

Keith performed more than 100 roles in Stratford from 1981 to 2015, including memorable portrayals of Pisthetairos in The Birds (2003), Subtle in The Alchemist (1999), Cléante in Tartuffe (2000), Cool in London Assurance (2006), the Dromios in The Comedy of Errors (1989), Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1989) and Sir Benjamin Backbite in The School for Scandal (1987).

In 1986 he balanced playing Rosencrantz in Hamlet with Guildenstern in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. He also played Simon Epikhodov in The Cherry Orchard (1987), Saturninus in Titus Andronicus (1989), Venticello #2 in Amadeus (1995), the Messenger in Oedipus Rex (1997), Percy Gower in Elizabeth Rex (2000), Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (2002), Calchas in Troilus and Cressida (2003) and Heck Take in To Kill a Mockingbird (2007).

His musical credits for the Festival include the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof (2000), the Court Clerk in Hello, Dolly! (2005), Everett Baker in Crazy for You (2014) and Mr. Bascombe in Carousel (2015), his final role in Stratford.

Keith also volunteered for various local fundraisers and was a former board member of PAL Stratford and Gallery Stratford. In 2006, he ran for the New Democratic Party in Perth-Wellington during that year’s federal election.

“He would have made a great elected representative if he had been successful,” Sam wrote.

Keith also enjoyed success on television. Most recently, he played reclusive artist Arthur Driscoll in Hallmark’s drama Chesapeake Shores. His television credits also include roles in Designated Survivor, Schitt’s Creek, Reign and Murdoch Mysteries.

“My mind has raced with all the additional ways we could have connected,” Sam wrote. “Even when you think you’re giving all you can to your people, dig deeper and give more. Be even kinder. Be more patient. Love harder. You won’t regret it.”

By Chris Montanini for

Photo: Keith Dinicol; Graham Abbey as Romeo, Keith Dinicol as Friar Laurence and Claire Jullien as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, © 2002 Stratford Festival.