Stage Door News

Niagara-on-the-Lake: “The Amen Corner” and “The Clearing” start previews

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Two very different, highly anticipated productions of the Shaw Festival’s 2023 main season begin previews. The Amen Corner, James Baldwin’s powerful depiction of the transformative complexities of love, both human and sacred, embarks on its run at the Festival Theatre July 30. Following close behind at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, Helen Edmundson's spellbinding The Clearing takes to the stage on August 3.

Directed by Shaw Festival Associate Artistic Director Kimberley Rampersad and amplified by a gospel choir's live and powerful renditions of soul-stirring songs, The Amen Corner, illuminates the struggle for identity and redemption in the face of societal and personal expectations.

Margaret Alexander (Janelle Cooper), devoted pastor of a vibrant Harlem church, is sorely tested when her estranged husband Luke (Allan Louis) returns to seek forgiveness. Meanwhile, her son David (Andrew Broderick), a musical prodigy, grows frustrated by his mother's strict religious beliefs and begins a tumultuous journey of self-discovery and rebellion.

Lending their talents to this Shaw production are David Alan Anderson, Tat Austrie, Alana Bridgewater, Jenni Burke, Deborah Castrilli*, Krystle Chance, J.J. Gerber, Dante Jemmott*, Nathaniel Judah, Amanda Lundgren, Caitlyn MacInnis, Jawon Mapp*, Tama Martin*, Ryann Myers*, Monica Parks and Jeremiah Sparks.

The Amen Corner features set design by Anahita Dehbonehie, costume design by A.W. Nadine Grant, lighting design by Mikael Kangas, gospel choir music direction by Jeremiah Sparks, musical collaboration by Paul Sportelli and production dramaturgy by Intisar Awisse. The production team includes Leigh McClymont, stage manager, Sang-Sang Lee, assistant stage manager, and Jane Vanstone Osborn, assistant stage manager.

On stage at the Festival Theatre (10 Queens Parade) from July 30 to October 8, The Amen Corner is recommended for audience members ages 14+/Grade 9+. Running time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one intermission. 

This production is sponsored by TD Bank Group. *RBC Emerging Artists are sponsored by the RBC Foundation and RBC Emerging Artists. 

Across the Baillie Courtyard at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, Helen Edmundson's gripping masterpiece The Clearing weaves a tale of ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges. Set against the harsh backdrop of a 17th-century Ireland under brutal British colonial rule, Englishman Robert (Kelly Wong) and his Irish wife Madeleine (Bahareh Yaraghi) find themselves pushed to their utmost limits when Robert is forced to make a gut-wrenching choice, one which leaves Madeleine fighting to protect her family and heritage.

In her Shaw Festival directorial debut, Jessica Carmichael breathes life into Edmundson's masterful study of humans navigating love, loyalty, fear and the pursuit of freedom.

The Clearing also features David Alan Anderson, Sharry Flett, J.J. Gerber, Dante Jemmott*, Ryann Myers* and Tom Rooney.

The British-subjugated County Kildare, Ireland, is embodied in set design by Michelle Tracey, costume design by Asa Benally and complemented by Kevin Lamotte’s lighting design and Chris Ross-Ewart's original music and sound design. The Clearing’s production team includes Allan Teichman, stage manager, Sang-Sang Lee, assistant stage manager, and Laura Lakatosh, apprentice stage manager.

On stage at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre (10 Queens Parade) from August 3 to October 6, The Clearing is recommended for audience members 14+/Grade 9+. Running time is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes including one intermission.

This production is sponsored by Somerset B&B. The Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre is sponsored by Paradigm Capital Inc. *RBC Emerging Artists are sponsored by the RBC Foundation and RBC Emerging Artists. 

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. Return per person: $29. 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 more information or to purchase tickets or a seat on the Toronto-Niagara Shaw Express, please contact the Shaw Festival Box Office at 1-800-511-SHAW or visit   

Illustration: Cover of The Amen Corner. © 1988 Vintage.