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Meaty plays, new and old, on offer next season at NAC English Theatre

NAC Ensemble members Lois Anderson (left) and Natasha Greenblatt promoting Alice Through the Looking Glass, to be directed by artistic director Jillian Keiley.

NAC

The National Arts Centre English Theatre's 2014-2015 season was announced Tuesday morning – and, in her second season at the helm, artistic director Jillian Keiley will be giving her latest ensemble of actors a go at meaty classic and contemporary plays, while also bringing recent acclaimed Canadian productions from elsewhere to Ottawa.

To kick off the season in the fall, noted actor and director Ted Dykstra will stage Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest with four actors coming off acclaimed productions in Toronto in the lead roles. Alex McCooeye, the 6-foot-9 actor who recently played Richard III for Shakespeare in the Ruff, will be Algernon, while Christopher Morris, who recently wowed in an intimate production of After Miss Julie, will play Jack. Amy Matysio (The Theatre Department's Pith!) and Natasha Greenblatt (this year's Next Stage Theatre Festival smash, Scheherazade) will take the roles of Gwendolyn and Cecily.

Next on the mainstage will be Keiley's own production of Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is also playing this summer at the Stratford Festival; while the sets and costumes will stay the same, in Ottawa, the NAC ensemble of actors will replace the Stratford ensemble.

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In February, director David Ferry – who recently made waves in Toronto with the aforementioned production of After Miss Julie – will take on Stuff Happens, David Hare's play about the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Two visiting productions round out the English Theatre's mainstage series: Take Me Back to Jefferson, Theatre Smith-Gilmour's physical-theatre adaptation of the William Faulkner novel As I Lay Dying, will be presented in March, while Robert Lepage's recent four-star hit Needles and Opium will take the stage in May. (Lepage's production – starring the bilingual performer Marc Labrèche – will also be a part of the NAC French Theatre's season.)

In the NAC's Studio Theatre, three recent Canadian critical hits have been programmed: Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, Veda Hille and Bill Richardson's popular chamber musical about life in the Internet age; The Double, Bad New Days's adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Double; and Obaaberima, Tawiah M'carthy's Dora-winning one-man show about a gay man's journey from Ghana to Canada.

M'carthy will also be a part of this year's NAC Ensemble. Along with the cast of The Importance of Being Earnest already mentioned, the 2014-2015 ensemble includes Lois Anderson, Andrew Moodie, Karen Robinson and David Warburton.

Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck

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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More

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