The Shaw Festival's 2014 season Cleveland Connection
Member, Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association
The Shaw Festival is one of the two major Canadian theatre celebrations, the other being The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. Both are professional,, high quality venues.
The Shaw Festival, which runs from April through October, is a tribute to George Bernard Shaw and his writing contemporaries.
Many Clevelanders take the four-hour drive up to "The Shaw," as it is called by locals, to participate in theatre, tour the "most beautiful little city in Canada," shop, visit the many wineries, and eat at the many restaurants.
This year's season includes:
"Cabaret" (April 10-October 26) Kander and Ebb's award-winning musical tells the story of a seedy nightclub in 1930's Berlin where a young English performer strikes up a relationship with an American writer, all while a zealous Master of Ceremonies commands the action at the Kit Kat Klub.
"The Philadelphia Story" (May 15-October 25) A classic romantic comedy by Philip Barry which tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist.
"The Philanderer" (June 26-October 12) Shaw's comedy of one man and two women who are caught in a battle between modern ideas and conventional romance. This production will include the "too daring" original final act.
"The Charity That Began At Home: A Comedy For Philanthropists" (April 25-October 11) St. John Hankin's comedy probes the idea that anyone can be kind to the pleasant, but who will care for the mean?
"The Sea" (June 3-October 12) In a mix of comedy and politics, author Edward Bond questions whether extraterrestrial aliens are about to invade.
"A Lovely Sunday For Creve Coeur" (June 28-October 11) Tennessee Williams' rarely produced one-act comedy, set in the mid-1930s, the play focuses on four women struggling for a sense of identity and independence.
"Arms And The Man" (April 4-October 18) Worlds collide in this Shaw romantic comedy when two opposing soldiers vie for the heart of an idealistic young woman.
"When We Are Married" (May 7-October 26) J. B. Priestley's comedy examines what happens when three upstanding couples, who are celebrating their joint silver wedding anniversaries, learn that none of them are legally married.
"Juno And The Paycock" (June 28-October 12) Sean O'Casey's tale of the happenings in a working class tenement during the Irish Civil War.
"The Mountaintop" (July 16-September 7) A conversation been Martin Luther King, Jr., who is in his motel room the night before his assassination, and a beautiful young hotel maid. (To read my review of the Broadway production of this play, go to: http://www.coolcleveland.com/blog/2011/11/review-cle-to-nyc-the-mountaintop-opens-questions-about-martin-luther-king-jr/
It's a good idea to make both theatre and lodging reservations early, especially with the B&Bs on weekends. Our home away from home is the beautiful and well-placed Wellington House (firstname.lastname@example.org), directly across the street from The Festival Theatre, within easy walking distance of all the theatres. For information on other B&Bs go to www.niagaraonthelake.com/showbedandbreakfasts
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.
There are some wonderful restaurants including Queenston Heights Restaurant (http://www.queenstonheights.com). 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 Benchmark Restaurant at the Niagara Culinary Institute (http://www.niagaracollege.ca/dining), at which student chefs hone their skills. My in-town favorite is The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King Street).
Go to the Shaw Festival! Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are, and see some great theatre! Don't forget your passport as it's the only form of identification that will be accepted for re-entry into the U.S.