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Saturday, March 30, 2019

The curtain's rising on a new season of plays at the Stratford and Shaw festivals


   One-Tank Trip for March 30/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Go beyond the stage as the curtain rises on a new season of plays across Ontario.
   The highlights celebrate the “Bard (William Shakespeare)” in Stratford and “Bernie (George Bernard Shaw)” in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
   Along with seeing some of the finest theatrical performances anywhere, the theatres are located in stunningly scenic and captivating places for visitors to explore.
   This season’s theme at the Stratford Festival is “Breaking Boundaries,” said Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, with a dozen productions from April through November.
Tour the archives at the Stratford Festival to see costumes, props and images.
    In its Visitors Guide, the festival showcases tours, exhibitions and activities beyond and behind the curtain.

   The Forum has special performances, speakers and panels, meal events and interactive workshops.
   Popular is the Costume Warehouse tour to view the “vast selection of costumes and props” and to get “selfies” all dressed up.
   The Set Changeover tour allows visitors to watch the crew transform the stage for the next production.
See the Stratford Festival stage transformed on the Set Changeover tour.
    The Festival Theatre tour “delves behind the scenes to discover the magic of how a show is created.”
   There’s the Archives tour to see costumes, props and images from past productions of Othello and Antony and Cleopatra along with historic photos of the Tom Patterson Theatre.
   There are also tours of the festival’s landscaped grounds, including the Elizabethan and Arthur Meighen gardens.
   Visitors can drop by the Festival Theatre Cafe for light lunch and dinner and there’s a barbecue lunch on the terrace and picnic lunches.
   Avoid the lineups by pre-ordering interval refreshments or take a beverage to your seat to enjoy during the show, and then visit the Theatre Shops for gifts and mementos.

   Now back to the show
   Shakespearean tragedy, comedy and thought-provoking drama are features in Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry VIII.
Stop the presses for performances of The Front Page at Stratford.
    “Musical fans and those experiencing Stratford for the first time are going to want to see shows like Little Shop of Horrors and Billy Elliot the Musical,” said executive director Anita Gaffney.
   A family visit could include The Neverending Story while cutting-edge new theatre is the world premiere of Birds of a Kind and Noel Coward’s comedy Private Lives.
   There’s a new Michael Healey adaptation of the classic The Front Page; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; Nathan the Wise; and Mother’s Daughter, about the making of a queen.
   New is the Bravo Zone, offering 150,000 tickets at $41, including handling fees. stratfordfestival.ca; 1-800-567-1600

   Go deeper with Shaw
   Plays by or in the spirit of (George) Bernard Shaw, an Irish-born dramatist, critic and social reformer, are presented at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Backstage tours are available at the Shaw Festival.
    Artistic Director Tim Carroll said he has “never been blessed with such a strong group of actors” as the season from April through December approaches.
   “There is a hit musical set in magical Scotland; a heist gone hilariously wrong; a sweeping Narnia adventure; a Bernard Shaw epic.; sex; murder; politics; and Tennessee Williams,” he added.
   Behind the scenes, get the deeper experience with “fascinating discussions, readings with Shaw ensemble members, backstage tours and more.”
Travel to the theatre by carriage and around Niagara-on-the-Lake is a classy way to go. (Jim Fox photo)
    There are hour-long guided tours of the Festival Theatre, pop-up patios after matinee performances in July and August for food, refreshments and live music.
   Along with garden tours, a music festival, adult acting intensive, women’s voices then and now, there is a reading series and coffee concerts.
   On the playbill at the Festival Theatre are The Horse and His Boy; Brigadoon; The Lady Killers; Holiday Inn; and Man and Superman.
   The Royal George Theatre has Rope; Getting Married; The Russian Play; A Christmas Carol 2019; and Cyrano de Bergerac.
   The Glass Menagerie is at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre along with Sex; and Victory. shawfest.com; 1-800-511-7429

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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