High-profile director Des McAnuff is entering his final season as artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival with the opening of Much Ado About Nothing Monday evening.

The company announced a settlement with its call centre workers on Sunday, averting a strike that might have disrupted the series of gala openings planned for this week.

McAnuff, who earned two Tony Awards on Broadway for direction of musicals, has been successful in directing international attention to Stratford productions.

Hollywood stars like Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy have been coaxed onto Stratford stages and McAnuff’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar went on to Broadway.

But at the end of this season, he’ll hand the reins to his successor Antoni Cimolino, a former actor who has been general director of the festival. Critics are wondering if Stratford will maintain its dazzle under a new hand, CBC’s Deana Sumanac reports.

Cimolino is a strong supporter of Stratford’s classical canon, including works such as Shakespeare’s  Cymbeline, which he is directing this season.

Actors such as Cynthia Dale, who returns to the festival this year after a five-year absence, say they’re confident in his leadership.

Cymbeline opens Thursday, one of four openings planned for the week – Monday marks the debut of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Tuesday is 42nd Street, the season’s big musical and Wednesday is You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, a children’s play based on the Charles Schultz comic strip.