Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Shaw Festival--2011

It's the time of year to start thinking…..THE SHAW FESTIVAL

The brochure has arrived. The season is set. It's time to start thinking about spending some time this spring, summer or fall at the SHAW FESTIVAL.

The Shaw Festival is conducted in four 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 unusual shops make for an inviting experience.

This season's theatre offerings are: MY FAIR LADY (“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she is treated”)…Lerner and Loewe's enchanting “I could have danced all night” musical; THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON (“There must always, my lady be one to command and others to obey”)…J. M. Barrie's delightful subversive comic fantasy; DRAMA AT INISH-A COMEDY (“We were all more or less happy and comfortable, good tempered and jolly-until these plays began to put ideas into our heads”)-Lennox Robinson's Irish comedy gem; ON THE ROCKS (“So much for the carrot, here comes the stick”)…G. B. Shaw's provocative tale about whether the prime minister has lost his sanity; MARIA SEVERA (“I am flesh and blood, I am heart and mind, and I am song”) Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli's romantic musical; CANDIDA (“We all go about longing for love; it is the first need of our natures, the loudest cry of our hearts.”)…GB Shaw's charming comedy about the classic love triangle; CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (“What is the victory of the cat on a hot tine roof? Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can”)…Tennessee Williams' sultry Pulitzer Prize winning play about respect, sex and maybe, somewhere, love; THE PRESIDENT (“It must be very wonderful, sir, to have almost all mankind at your disposal.”)…a return engagement of Ferenc Molnar's fast-paced comedy which was a 2008 Festival smash hit; TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (“You pick that card that's the loser, you pick that card you pick a winner, follow that card, and you gotta chase that card”)…Suzan-Lori Parks harsh and humane tale of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers who fight for survival after being abandoned by their parents; WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING (“The past is a mystery, and yet, perhaps it will be easier to explain than the fish.”)…Australian Andrew Bovell's tale of a father who gets an unexpected phone call from his long lost son just as a fish falls from the sky.

Besides the plays themselves, the Festival includes a play reading series, pre-cast chats, Tuesday Q&A, Saturday conversations, Sunday coffee concerts and backstage tours. Also check out the Shaw Workshops for Adults and the Teen Workshops. On July 23 and 24, join a debate and discussion of provocative ideas with Tony Kushner (ANGELS IN AMERICA), Michael Billington, the theatre critic of The Guardian, and Suzan-Lori Parks (TOPDOG/UNDERDOG).

The area itself is filled with activities ranging from a golf course within the city limits; an art park (, The Good Earth Cooking School (, an international chamber music festival (, learning vacations at Niagara College (www.niagaralearning, bike paths, Mystery on the Lake (, 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 facilities.

There are some wonderful restaurants including Queenston Heights Restaurant ( It 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.) A real find is the restaurant at the Niagara Culinary Institute (, at which student chefs hone their skills. And my new favorite, is The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King St.)

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 day-of-the-show rush tickets and senior matinee prices.

Helpful hint: A passport is a border crossing requirement!

Go to the Shaw Festival! Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are, and see some great theatre!