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Maggie Smith to receive Festival Legacy Award

Dame Maggie Smith will be the 2012 recipient of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Legacy Award, and will be honoured at a gala at Toronto’s new Four Seasons Hotel on Monday, Sept. 10.

“Here in Stratford, Maggie Smith holds a special place in our hearts,” said artistic director Des McAnuff. “One of our Festival’s founding principles was that we should be a home for artists of international stature as well as for our own Canadian stars, a principle spectacularly embodied in the four seasons Dame Maggie spent with us between 1976 and 1980.

“Her performances on our stages made an immense contribution to our artistic legacy and are still treasured in the memories of all who experienced them.

“Having spoken to her recently, I know that Dame Maggie is really looking forward to coming back to Canada, where she enjoyed so much substantial success.”

In her four seasons at Stratford, Smith gave some of the most memorable performances in the Festival’s history, including Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Rosalind in As You Like It, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure, Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lady Macbeth.

Her non-Shakespeare roles at Stratford were equally noteworthy: Masha in Three Sisters, The Actress in The Guardsman, Judith Bliss in Hay Fever, Amanda Prynne in Private Lives, Irina Arkadina in The Seagull and Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World, for which she won her second Variety Club Best Actress Award.

Her performance in the title role of the world première of Edna O’Brien’s Virginia was one of her most lauded. The production went on to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, winning Dame Maggie her first Olivier nomination and her second Evening Standard Drama Award for Best Actress. Smith won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

She won a second Oscar – as well as a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award – in 1978 for her supporting role in Neil Simon’s California Suite. Her performances in Othello, Travels with My Aunt, A Room with a View and Gosford Park also garnered Oscar nominations.

The Legacy Award Gala committee is co-chaired by Barry Avrich, Beth Kronfeld and Florence Minz. To order tables and tickets or to receive information, please contact Rachel Smith-Spencer at 519-271-4040 ext. 2402.

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