Festival Theatre at
|It starts with a drum roll and a trumpet fanfare…
Every time I hear the trumpet fanfare at the Stratford Festival, the
hair rises on the back of my neck. There is something magical of
those trumpets as they call the ticket holders into the impressive
Festival Theatre. That doesn’t mean that it is less enticing to
attend the other theatres attached to the Festival. I just get a
personal charge as the trumpeters appear on the balcony above the
The curtain is going up. That’s been the message here
since 1957 and countless theatergoers have thrilled to what has been offered
on the Festival Theatre Stage.
And what a stage it is! There is no place in the
theatre from which people have difficulty seeing the excitement that
unfolds. You are captured as the actors appear and bring you the best
possible renditions of some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
And it’s not only Shakespeare that you will see here.
This season, the Festival offers King Lear with Brian Bedford; the director
playing the lead in what many say is the bard’s greatest tragedy.
The celebrated actor Canadian actor Graham Green is
Shylock in the controversial and popular Merchant of Venice.
But if it’s musicals that you enjoy and you want to
relive the escapades of curly and Jud Fry in the untamed wilderness of the
human heart, you can see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s charming Oklahoma. This
turn of the century tale will send you home humming. It opens April 10th.
If it’s a good laugh you want, there is also a chance
to see Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. It asks the question ‘is it social
convention or true love that makes for an ideal marriage?’
Richard Monette, the talented artistic director of the
Festival will direct this witty offering himself.
Avon theatre interior
But there are other theatres as well. At the
refitted Avon Theatre you can see Peter Donaldson as Atticus Finch
in To Kill a Mockingbird based on
The Pulitzer Prize novel by Harper Lee and
dramatized by Christopher Sergel.
For music lovers there’s George Gershwin’s My One and Only. It
includes popular golden oldies like ‘S Wonderful’ and ‘Nice work if
You Can Get It’.
The Avon also offers The Comedy of Errors,
Shakespeare’s wild comedy about mistaken identity. Richard Monette will
direct a super cast of experienced Stratford actors. It will be his 14th
and last season as Artistic Director. This will be the 200th Shakespearean
The Tom Patterson Theatre and the Studio
Theatre will offer Othello with Philip Akin as Othello and Jonathan
Goad as treacherous Iago.
This is a must for me. But there are other
interesting items on the agenda like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
with Graham Greene as Lennie.
From July 29th to September 23 you can see some of Stratford’s
great names as the venerable William Hutt, Martha Henry, and Fiona
Reid ( all favorites of mine) join the cast of Edward Albee’s A
Erecting the first tent theatre.
But that’s not all as the Studio theatre offers the
acclaimed Australian play The Blond, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.
At the same theatre you can see Seana McKenna in a
one-woman show about Anne Hathaway. It is simply called Shakespeare’s Will
by Canadian Vern Theissen.
The other two plays at the Studio are The Odyssey
by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott about Caribbean
traditions. And to complete the series the David Edgar play Pentecost
searches for the connections between art and identity.
That’s obviously too much for one visit. Some people
return again and again. I’ve attended Stratford for over 40 years. You must
select your plays in advance as sales are brisk at this time of the year. It
can be done by phone or Email.
But that’s not the only thing to do in this historical
Since a river, aptly named the Avon, wanders through
town you can canoe or take a river tour or you can picnic at the water’s
edge as the beautiful white swans drift by.
The town has no end of bed and breakfast
accommodations, motels or hotels, great bars, restaurants and excellent
golf. The shopping is diverse and there’s a permanent antique barn in the
There are lectures about the plays for you to attend,
take a backstage tour or attend any of the long list of music nights
starting on June 25th with Broadway Favorites. There are buffet lunches or
dinner followed by a talk on one of the plays. I’ll be at the King Lear talk
on July 18th.
You can meet celebrated writers for readings and
discussions. Here’s a chance to listen to the words of Margaret Atwood and
that of Austin Clarke whose The Polished Hoe won him a prestigious Giller
There are workshops, courses and even a Shakespeare
school. It never ends. You can even have a back stage tour.
How can you miss what hundreds of thousands have
witnessed over the years.
The rest is up to you. It’s a short jaunt on super
highways from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto or Montreal. It’s there with its
arms open, waiting for you. For further information Call toll free at 1-800
567 1600 or look up
The Fax number is 519 273 3731. Ask them to send you
the 2007 booklet that lists hotels, restaurants and all ticket information.
And if that’s not enough, it’s all in Canadian dollars.
My recommendation is The Victorian Inn on the Park…This
modern hotel is set near the Avon River and within walking distance of the
They can be reached toll free at 1 800 465 4106 or you
can look at
No need to worry about your car in this fully air
conditioned hotel nestled in verdant parkland with an 18-hole golf course
just across the road.
I have never failed to enjoy my stay there.
Do it quickly. The curtain is going up and the
trumpeters are poised to herald you into Canada’s most prestigious theatre.
Pay by American Express and you go…to the front of the
line. Ask for seniors and other discounts.
You may want to become a member. There are discounts if
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)