Stage Door News

Stratford: Lucy Peacock to receive Stratford Festival’s Legacy Award

Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Stratford Festival is honouring Lucy Peacock with this year’s Legacy Award. The gala, hosted by Sheila McCarthy, will be held at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel on Monday, October 2.

Peacock marks her 36th season with the Festival this year and has performed in more than 80 productions at the Stratford Festival alone. She has captivated audiences at major cultural institutions such as the National Arts Centre, The Segal Centre, Centaur Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, The Citadel Theatre, The Globe Theatre, Canadian Stage, Vancouver Playhouse, The Coal Mine Theatre, The Winter Garden and Broadway’s Lincoln Center.

“Lucy is that most rare and important thing: a fearless artist who will bravely and without shame go to dark places in order to realize a playwright’s vision,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “This year, for instance, Lucy plays both the ridiculously greedy Germaine Lauzon in Michel Tremblay’s iconic Quebec tragicomedy Les Belles-Soeurs and the powerful racist matriarch in Alice Childress’s searing drama Wedding Band.”

Peacock, a National Theatre School graduate, joined the Stratford acting company in 1984, and her star rose quickly. In 1986, she played Ophelia in both Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. In 1988 her enormous versatility became even more evident as she took on the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in the musical My Fair Lady, along with the roles of Lady Anne in Richard III and Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well.

In 2006 her versatility once again wowed audiences when she gave a tour-de-force performance as all seven characters in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. This spectacular production was brought back the following year to meet the demand for tickets and also went to the Vancouver Playhouse.

Among her many other key roles are Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Masha in Three Sisters and Lavinia in Titus Andronicus, all in 1989; Rosalind in As You Like It (1990, 2000); the Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost (1992); Gwendolyn Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest (1993); Desdemona in Othello (1994); Viola in Twelfth Night (1994); Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew (1997); Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1999); Elmire in Tartuffe (2000); Portia in The Merchant of Venice (2001); Regan in King Lear, which also toured to New York’s Lincoln Center; Lady Macbeth (2004); the title character in The Duchess of Malfi (2006); Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (2006); Nana in For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (2010); the title role in Mary Stuart (2013); Kate Keller in All My Sons (2016); Volumnia in Coriolanus (2018); B in Three Tall Women (2021); and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III (2022).

Peacock’s musical work includes the lead role of Anna in The King and I (2003), Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! (2005), Morgan le Fey in Camelot (2011) and Mrs. Munch in Wanderlust (2012). She also hosted the hugely popular Late Night with Lucy cabarets in the early years of the Meighen Forum. For several years she volunteered her time to direct, host and perform in the annual Expect the Extraordinary fundraisers for Stratford’s Performing Arts Lodge, helping the charity raise more than $200,000.

Peacock has shared the stage and worked with some of the most iconic actors, directors and artists of this generation, including Christopher Plummer, John Neville, Richard Monette, Martha Henry, Antoni Cimolino, Brian Bedford, Sir Jonathan Miller, Carey Perloff, Robin Phillips, Susan H. Schulman, Brent Carver, Susan Wright, Janet Wright, Goldie Semple, Peter Hinton-Davis, Jackie Maxwell, Colm Feore, Seana McKenna, Peter Donaldson, Jillian Keiley and Robert Lepage.

Gala Co-Chairs Barry Avrich, Wendy Pitblado and David Simmonds express their delight in honouring Peacock with the Legacy Award, saying: “Lucy is an artist who has devoted her career to perfecting her craft on the stages at Stratford and continues to deliver one exceptional performance after another. We are honoured to have Lucy join the esteemed group of artists who have received the Festival’s Legacy Award in recognition of their immeasurable contributions to the Stratford Festival and the entertainment world.”

Peacock is known for her compassion and commitment to the Stratford Festival company. She mentors, guides and teaches actors, working with both production and artistic management to accomplish common goals of dignity and respect in service to the work.

“Lucy has been a deeply loved mentor to many young artists,” says Cimolino. “She also is a friend and champion to the more senior company members. And in those roles, she has supported several artistic directors as a counsellor and friend. I value her advice immensely.”

The Stratford Festival Legacy Gala will feature tributes and performances from Thom Allison, Gregory Hoskins, Antonette Rudder and Sara Topham. The Legacy Award will be presented to Lucy Peacock by Antoni Cimolino.

Photo: Lucy Peacock.