2012 National Arts Centre Award
Tony, Olivier and Dora Award-winning director, writer and composer Des McAnuff is the artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His acclaimed production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, presented at Stratford in summer 2011, also garnered rave reviews at La Jolla Playhouse in California and opened on Broadway in March 2012.
In 2012, his fifth season as artistic director at Stratford, Mr. McAnuff will direct Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two. Previous Stratford productions include Twelfth Night, The Tempest starring Christopher Plummer, As You Like It, Macbeth starring Colm Feore, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Romeo and Juliet, and Caesar and Cleopatra starring Christopher Plummer. Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Caesar and Cleopatra were also filmed for DVD and Canadian theatrical release, playing to sold-out audiences across the country.
Des McAnuff was born in 1952 and grew up in Toronto, where he attended Ryerson University and was part of the city’s burgeoning theatre scene in the 1970s. In 1976 he moved to New York, directing for the Broadway Academy of Music, The Public Theatre, and the New York Shakespeare Festival.
His Broadway credits include Guys and Dolls, Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention, Jersey Boys (Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Musical), Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays (Tony Award), How to Succeed..., The Who’s Tommy (director/co-author with Pete Townshend, Tony and Olivier Awards: Best Director; Olivier: Best Musical), A Walk in the Woods, and Big River (Tony Awards: Best Director, Best Musical).
He is the former artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse, where he directed over 30 productions of Shakespeare and other classics, new plays and musicals, and transformed the Playhouse into one of America’s leading regional theatres.
He has also brought his creative talents to opera (directing Faust at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera, and Wozzeck at San Diego Opera) and film: Cousin Bette and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (director), The Iron Giant (producer), and Quills (executive producer).
Awards and honours include the Julia Hansen Award (2005) for lifetime achievement in directing, and an honorary doctorate from Ryerson University.