They’re rolling out the red carpet at THE STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL for tonight’s highly anticipated opening of THE TEMPEST, starring Canadian acting legend CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER.

The Toronto native, who earned his first OSCAR nomination at age 80 earlier this year for THE LAST STATION, plays Prospero the sorcerer in the show that Stratford officials say is of historical importance.

THE TEMPEST is helmed by Des McAnuff, the artistic director of the theatre festival in southwestern Ontario.

He said CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER is the greatest stage actor of our time and to see him at Stratford is a rare opportunity.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER was just at the Stratford festival two years ago for his tour de force performance in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA, which was filmed and broadcast on BRAVO and screened in movie theatres.

But earlier this year, the two time TONY winner told The Canadian Press that he likely won’t be able to return to Stratford for several years once THE TEMPEST is done.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER — whose great grandfather was Prime Minister John Abbott — has appeared in dozens of films and starred on stages from Broadway to Stratford to London.

For his role as Russian author LEO TOLSTOY in THE LAST STATION, he also received GOLDEN GLOBE and SAG AWARD nominations.

OSCAR winning British actor HELEN MIRREN, who costarred with Mr. Plummer in THE LAST STATION, calls him “one of the world’s greatest actors, no question.”

“He is one of the world’s Top 10 actors,” she told The Canadian Press in a recent phone interview.

“He’s just absolutely remarkable. I saw him recently in Caesar & Cleopatra (on television) and he was so fabulous in that. The whole production was great, actually.”

Ms. Mirren and Mr. Plummer have even had a running joke going on lately over THE TEMPEST, since she, too, just shot a film adaptation of it for possible release later this year.

Only in her case, she plays Prospera, a female version of the Bard’s protagonist.

“He keeps laughing at me whenever I see him. He always says, ‘I think I might play it in a skirt,’ because he knows that I just did Prospero, which he thinks is just hysterically funny.”

THE TEMPEST is a romance set on a mysterious island with themes of love, revenge and greed. The leading role of Prospero is said to be one of the greatest roles ever written for a classical actor.

“Prospero is a role of great complexity, richness and paradox, the culmination of Shakespeare’s skill as a dramatist,” commented Des McAnuff, who also worked on CAESAR & CLEOPATRA.

“There are very few actors who can play this part and we’ll have had two of them here within a decade: first William Hutt and now Christopher Plummer.”

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