Christopher Walken at Stratford

Canada 1968

(July 2002 Update New commentary from John Lazarus has been added after the last picture.)

My fantasy of obtaining a videotape of KID CHAMPION remains unfulfilled, but this is pretty groovy. Behold images of Christopher Walken appearing in ROMEO AND JULIET (as Romeo) and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (as Lysander) at the Stratford Festival of 1968. This miracle came about when a co-worker's urchin, Jake Grussing, was assigned to sketch period costumes for class. Mom Carrie sought the assistance of UMM's Dean, noted Nabokov scholar Sam Schuman, who loaned her an antique theatre program. Rebecca the Walken fan peeked over her shoulder at the photos in the program and very nearly flipped.

Thanks to Deb Grant for the scans.

Romeo (Walken) with Mercutio
Christopher Walken as Romeo
with Leo Ciceri as Mercutio

Christopher Walken in ROMEO AND JULIET

The text beneath the photo reads: Christopher Walken - Romeo. Christopher Walken comes to the Stratford Festival from New York, where he recently played Achilles in the highly acclaimed off-Broadway production of "Iphigenia in Aulis", which starred Irene Pappas. The 25-year-old actor began his stage career as a dancer while still attending Hofstar [sic] University in Long Island, New York. His first performances were in such musicals as "Baker Street" and "West Side Story". In 1966 he won a Clarence Derwent Award for his portrayal of King Phillip in the Broadway production of "The Lion in Winter" and also appeared with the New York Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Walken's performance as Jack Hunter in the City Centre's revival of "The Rose Tatoo" won him a Theatre World Award. In 1967 he starred in the title role of Peter Ustinov's "The Unknown Soldier and His Wife." He joined the Stratford Festival Company last winter to play Lysander in the tour of "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Walken as Lysander
Walken as Lysander in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
The other actors are Jane Casson (Helena), Tedde Moore (Hermia), and Neil Dainard (Demetrius).

July 2002 Here's some material from a delightful email I've received recently. John Lazarus writes: 'I'm a Canadian playwright and screenwriter, and recently began teaching in the Drama Department at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. I'm writing to tell you that I saw [the Midsummer Night's Dream] production, and I remember noticing Walken and memorizing his name, though of course he wasn't well-known at the time. I have become a fan since those days, but I didn't think he was very good in that show. (I was a 20-year-old student at the National Theatre School of Canada, and had played Lysander in school, and knew everything.) I remember him delivering the first joke in the play -- "You have her father's love, Demetrius; Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him" -- straight out to the audience, in a way that struck me as phony. And I may be wrong about this, but I believe he either quit or got fired before the season was over.

Footnotes: I became a "spear-carrier" (the lowest level of actor at that theatre, kind of like an extra) at Stratford the following summer, and did a very poor job. I reached my lowest point in the season when BLANK [an actress whose name I was asked to delete before sharing this material...RW] got drunk and yelled at me one night in the bar. Neil Dainard (pictured as Demetrius) went on to a distinguished career in Canadian film, theatre and television; he and I recently met again in Vancouver, and reminisced about those days. Leo Ciceri, pictured as Mercutio, was a wonderful actor and a very kind man, who died tragically in a car crash just a couple of years after those photos were taken.'

I'm Rebecca Webb and I can be reached via e-mail at:
Created: February 18, 1998. The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.