Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Shaw Festival preview-2009


Spring is almost here. Summer will eventually come. The dollar exchange rate again favors US citizens. It’s time to think SHAW FESTIVAL.

The Shaw Festival is conducted in three theatres in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, an easy four-hour trip from Cleveland. Once you arrive, you will be entranced by the most beautiful city in Canada. Lovely flowers, classical home architecture and inviting well-stocked shops and galleries make for an inviting experience.

This season’s theatre offerings are: ‘BRIEF ENCOUNTERS,’ Noel Coward; ‘BORN YESTERDAY,’ Garson Kanin; ‘THE DEVIL’S DISCIPLE,’ George Bernard Shaw; ‘THE ENTERTAINER,’ John Osborne; ‘WAYS OF THE HEART,’ Noel Coward; ‘A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN,’ Eugene O’Neill; ‘ALBERTINE IN FIVE TIMES,’ Michel Tremblay; ‘PLAY, ORCHESTRA, PLAY, Noel Coward; SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE,’ music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine; ‘IN GOOD KING CHARLES’S GOLDEN DAYS,’ George Bernard Shaw; ‘STAR CHAMBER,’ Noel Coward.

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

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 blend of fine shopping, dining, and antique treasures (, an international chamber music festival (, learning vacations at Niagara College (www.niagaralearning, bike paths, Mystery on the Lake, a new interactive theatre (, and a Niagara river jet boat trip.

The Niagara area is dotted with wineries, many of which, besides offering wine tastings and sales, have fine dining restaurants. My favorite is Hillebrand Estates Winery. Friends love Peller Estates.

There are some wonderful restaurants including my favorite, 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. (Make a reservation and ask for a window table.) Lunch often finds me at The Epicurian, next to the Court House theatre. A real find was the restaurant at the Niagara Culinary Institute (, at which the student chefs hone their skills.

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 frozen yogurt which is blended before your eyes with Niagara fruits.

The area has many excellent hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. Our home away from home is the beautiful and well-placed Wellington House (, directly across the street from The Festival Theatre. For information on other B&Bs go to

For theatre information, a brochure 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, a half-hour ride from Niagara-on-the-Lake, has several casinos. There is also a large outlet store complex for the bargain shopper. If you are taking kids be aware that a huge indoor water park has been constructed which connects to several hotels. And, of course, not to be overlooked are the attractions connected to the magnificent falls.

Helpful hint: To satisfy border requirements carry some official form of identification (preferred: passport, or driver’s license with a picture).
Go to the Shaw Festival! Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are, and see some great theatre!