Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stratford Festival of Canada, a preview (Stratford-on-Avon, Canada)


The Stratford Festival of Canada takes place in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The ride from Cleveland is about six hours through Buffalo. Go on-line to the festival to get directions. (The routings offered by both the AAA and Yahoo maps are confusing and miles longer.)

Stratford plays are done in four theatres. This season’s productions are: ‘CORIOLANUS’ (William Shakespeare)--now through September 23; ‘MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING ((William Shakespeare)--now through October 22; ‘OLIVER! (music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart)--now through October 29; ‘TWELFTH NIGHT’ ((William Shakespeare)--July 30-October 28; ‘THE GLASS MENAGERIE’ (Tennessee Williams)- now through October 22; ‘SOUTH PACIFIC’ (music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II)--now through October 28; ‘LONDON ASSURANCE’ (Dion Boucicault)--now through October 21; ‘DON JUAN’ (Moliere)--English performances from August 1-October 10, French performances from October 12 to 20; ‘HENRY IV, PART I’ ((William Shakespeare)--now through September 24; ‘GHOSTS’ (Henrik Ibsen) -July 25-September 23; ‘THE DUCHESS OF MALFI’ (John Webster)--now through September 23’ ‘HARLEM DUET’ (Djanet Sears)--June 20-September 22; ‘THE BLONDE, THE BRUNETTE, AND THE VENGEFUL REDHEAD’ (Robert Hewett), June 27 September 24; ‘FANNY KEMBLE’ (Peter Hinton)--July 18-September 23; ‘THE LIAR’ (Pierre Corneille)--August 9-September 23.

Besides the regularly scheduled plays the Festival offers public readings, Monday night music, a Celebrated Writers Series, buffet lunch and dinner table talks, special lectures, stage side chats, backstage and costume warehouse tours, and garden tours. The Family Explorer series offers events and activities for the entire family including song and dance workshops and dress rehearsals with the actors.

What’s the lodging like? Hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts abound to fit any wallet. I enjoy the B&Bs where you get to meet local people who operate the facilities and fellow travelers from around the world. My favorite is “The Jennie Forbes Cottage” a charming regency cottage erected in 1857 ( Owners Don and Kathy Spiers are wonderful hosts.

As for shopping, I recommend Davis Canadian Arts (106 Ontario Street). This is a wonderful art gallery that offers Canadian traditional and contemporary sculptures, ceramics and paintings. For women’s quality clothing make sure to stop at The Touchmark Shop (137 Ontario Street). The establishment offers unique and one-of-a kind products at excellent prices.

Hungry? For moderate cost and high quality, try The Annex Room (38 Albert Street). For a relaxed and fairly inexpensive breakfast treat try Demetre’s Family Eatery (1100 Ontario Street). Cleveland theatrical legends Dorothy and Reuben Silver, who are Statford regulars, recommend The Waterlot Restaurant and Inn (17 Huron Street behind the Royal Bank) in New Hamburg, which is about 20 minutes away “and well worth the trip.”( Also on their favorites list is The Keystone Alley Cafe (34 Brunswick Street) in Stratford ( which has an outdoor patio.

Stratford Escapes, a division of Niagara Falls Tours, is an efficient way to make reservations. For information call 877-356-6385 or go on line to For individual tickets call 800-567-1600 or go on-line to

Helpful hint: To satisfy board requirements carry some official form of identification (passport, or driver’s license with a picture).

Go to Canada, find out what lovely hosts these people are, and see some great theatre!