Stage Door News

Niagara-on-the-Lake: “The Playboy of the Western World” begins previews May 25

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Jackie Maxwell returns to the Shaw Festival to direct The Playboy of the Western World – the play that stoked the fires of Irish nationalism and sparked the infamous Dublin “Playboy Riots” of 1907. Previews of J.M. Synge’s funny and enthralling masterwork of the Irish Literary Renaissance begins May 25 in the theatre named after The Shaw’s former A.D. – the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre.

In a small Irish village where the only entertainment is gossip, Christy Mahon’s (Qasim Khan) arrival has everyone talking. On the run after splitting his father’s head open with a spade, he declares his act of patricide to all within earshot. Though fully prepared to be condemned, he instead finds himself a local celebrity admired by the village’s men and desired by its women. Everything is going well for this dangerous “Playboy,” especially between him and the wild and forthright Pegeen Mike (Marla McLean), until his father Old Mahon (Ric Reid) turns up at the Flaherty shebeen very much alive.

The Playboy of the Western World also features Fiona Byrne, Shane Carty, Alexandra Gratton Andrew Lawrie, Jade Repeta, Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed, Sanjay Talwar, Jonathan Tan and Kiana Woo.

Set and costume designer Judith Bowden, lighting designer Kevin Lamotte and sound designer Samuel Sholdice have masterfully transported this production to 1950s rural Ireland – an era where economic conditions and mass emigration from Ireland mirrored the realities of Synge’s County Mayo. The Playboy of the Western World’s production team includes Stage Manager Beatrice Campbell and Assistant Stage Manager Meghan Froebelius.

On stage at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre (10 Queens Parade) from May 25 to October 7, The Playboy of the Western World is recommended for audience members ages 14+/Grade 9+ and is sponsored by Michael Eagen. Running time is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one intermission.

The Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre is sponsored by Paradigm Capital Inc.

Generously sponsored by The Slaight Family Foundation, the Shaw Festival’s 2023 season runs through to December 23, with a playbill featuring Mahabharata, Gypsy, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, The Amen Corner, Prince Caspian, On the Razzle, Village Wooing, The Shadow of a Doubt, The Playboy of the Western World, The Apple Cart, The Clearing, A Christmas Carol and Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon. This season’s Outdoors @ The Shaw includes Mother, Daughter, The Game of Love and Chance, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing – One Act – in Concert, Coffee Concerts, Speakeasies, A Short History of Niagara, What’s in Your Songbook? and Gospel Choir.

Direct bus service from downtown Toronto and Burlington to Niagara-on-the-Lake is available on the Toronto-Niagara Shaw Express. Luxury buses are standard size wheelchair accessible, offer free Wi-Fi and have an on-board host. $29 return per person. Ticket to a 2023 performance is required. Please pre-arrange with the Box Office. Schedule is subject to change. Please confirm dates and times with the Shaw Festival Box Office.

For tickets visit