As I walked down the main street in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, I had several people look at my black t-shirt with the white letters which stated, “I liked Cleveland before it was cool” and make positive comments or give a thumbs up.
The Shaw Festival is often like being in downtown Cleveland on game day. Lots of 216/440 residents migrate North for a day, days or a week to visit “the most beautiful little city in Canada.”
They purchase peaches, cherries, and nectarines, tour the wine country, play golf, and attend plays at The Shaw. It also doesn't hurt that the present exchange rate is $1.32 American for the Canadian dollar. (For the non- mathematical—Americans get a little over 30-cents back for every dollar they spend. Use credit cards to get the highest exchange rate.)
The Shaw Festival is a tribute to George Bernard Shaw, his writing contemporaries, and plays that share Shaw’s provocative exploration of society and celebration of humanity.
It’s a good idea to make both theatre and lodging reservations in advance, especially with the B&Bs on weekends. Our home away from home is the beautiful and well-placed Wellington House (http://firstname.lastname@example.org), directly across the street from The Festival Theatre, within easy walking distance of all the theatres, where the breakfasts are great and the furnishings lovely. Unfortunately, this is the last year that the proprietors will accommodate new guests. So, if you’d like to stay there, reserve for this year, now! For information on other B&Bs go to www.niagaraonthelake.com/showbedandbreakfasts
There are some wonderful restaurants. My in-town favorites are The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King Street) and Niagara’s Finest Thai (905-468-1224, 88 Picton Street). There is also Gingers (905-468-387, 1390 Mary Street) a short ride out of the main square. The Epicurean is a nice place for a seasonal food lunch.
Having just returned from the Festival, I offer these capsule judgments of some of the shows:
SEX-- “Sex” is a delightful surprise. Besides getting a compelling production, it is an eye-opener into the life of an American sex symbol who not only fought censorship, but once quipped, “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” This is a must see show!
THE GLASS MENAGERIE--“The Glass Menagerie” is a masterfully staged show of one of the finest dramas in the American theatrical lexicon. This is an absolutely must see production! Huzzah!
THE LADY KILLERS--“The Lady Killers” gets an over-done farcical production at The Shaw. It will be of great glee to many, however, it would have been more amusing if the material had been allowed to develop its natural farcical level, without redundant shticks and over-done characterizations.
BRIGADOON-- “Brigadoon,” which is a classic example of one of the great American musicals, gets a very credible, audience-pleasing performance.
ROPE--“Rope” is a weakly written script which fails to compel or demand attention. One can only wonder why the powers that be decided that it was worth the time and effort of the cast, crew and audience.
GETTING MARRIED-- George Bernard Shaw is the master at skewering social, religious and political actions and concepts with which he disagrees. His sharp, satirical and comedic language is put to good use in the delightful and pointed “Getting Married.” See this one!
To read the complete reviews of the shows I saw, go to: http://www.royberko.info
Other festival shows are:
THE HORSE AND HIS BOY, THE RUSSIAN PLAY, CYRANO DE BERGERAC and VICTORY. The holiday season offerings are HOLIDAY INN and A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
For theatre information, a brochure or tickets, call 800-511-7429 or go on-line to http://www.shawfest.com. 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.
Go to the Shaw Festival! Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are and see some theater!
Don’t forget your passport as it’s the only form of identification that will be accepted for re-entry into the U.S. Figure in time to get through customs at the U.S.-Canadian border.