Saturday, June 10, 2006

Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the Lake, Canada)


The Shaw Festival is conducted in three theatres in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, an easy four-hour trip from Cleveland. You travel through the wine countries of Ohio, New York and Canada enroute. Once you arrive, you will be entranced by the lovely city. It is called the most beautiful city in Canada, and it is! Lovely flowers, classical home architecture and inviting well-stocked shops make for an inviting experience.

This season’s productions are: ‘ARMS AND THE MAN’ (G. Bernard Shaw)--now through October 29; ‘HIGH SOCIETY’ (music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Arthur Kopit)--now through November 19; ‘THE CRUCIBLE’ (Arthur Miller)--now through October 14; ‘TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD’ (G. Bernard Shaw)--now through October 7; ‘THE MAGIC FIRE’ (Lillian Groag), now through October 8; ‘ROSMERSHOLM’ (Henrik Ibsen)--July 5-October 7; ‘LOVE AMONG THE RUSSIANS’ (Anton Chekhov)--now through September 24).

Besides the plays themselves, the Festival includes a reading series, Sunday coffee concerts, a Village Fair and Fete, seminars, backstage tours, pre-show chats, Tuesday Questions and Answers and Saturday Conversations.

The area itself is filled with activities ranging from a golf course within the city limits; an art park (, The Good Earth Cooking School (, the Jordan Village, a diverse blending of fine shopping, dining and antique treasures (, an international chamber music festival (, learning vacations at Niagara College (www.niagaralearning, bike paths, and you can zoom into the whirlpool of the Niagara river on a jet boat.

The Niagara area is dotted with wineries, many of which, besides offering wine tastings and sales, have fine dining restaurants. Our (my wife, the gourmet cook, and me, the eater) dining favorite among the vineyards is Hillebrand Estates Winery, though several others have received positive comments from friends whose palates I trust. We’ll be trying some of these on our visit this July, and I’ll report on those with the reviews of the plays.

There are some wonderful restaurants including our favorites, The Inn on the Twenty (, located in historic Jordan Village about forty minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Queenston Heights Restaurant ( The latter is located in a park just over the US-Canadian border and has a breathtaking view of the Niagara River gorge.

Greaves Jams and Marmalades is famous for its products since 1927. A Niagara tradition is the Maple Leaf Fudge store. Also, don’t miss out on the several stores that sell yogurt which is blended before your eyes with Niagara fruits.

The area has many excellent hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. We have found Abbotsford House Bed and Breakfast ( to be our home away-from-home. Owner Margaret Currie is a total delight. Her breakfasts are scrumptious, she keeps an immaculate home, and the antiques and decorations are impeccable. Return guests are the rule here. For reservations and/or information call 905-468-4646 or e-mail Don’t wait. Several of my readers have run into “no rooms at the inn” and an apology from Margaret. However, if she doesn’t have room, she’ll find a friend who has space.

For theatre information, a brochure, lodging suggestions or tickets call 800-511-7429 or go on-line to Ask about packages that include lodging, meals and tickets. Also be aware that the festival offers Sunday night specials, day-of-the-show rush tickets and senior matinee prices.

Tired of waiting for a casino in Cleveland? For those so-inclined, Niagara Falls has a brand-new gambling casino. An added attraction is the new Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort which features 3,000 slot machines, 150 gaming tables and overlooks the thunderous cascading water. There is also a large outlet store complex for the bargain shopper. If you are taking kids be aware that a huge new indoor water park has been constructed which connects to several hotels as well as a new entertainment ‘CIRQUE NIAGARA: AVALA ( And, of course, not to be overlooked are the attractions connected to the magnificent falls.