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Hey, Clevelanders…it’s almost Shaw Festival time!

Roy Berko
Member, Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association
Yes, the snow is on the ground, the weather is miserable, but soon the cold winds will subside and Clevelanders will start their flow to the land of the maple leafs and cross the many bridges in their treks to the major theatre festivals of Canada.
The Shaw Festival is one of two major theatre celebrations, the other being The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  Both are professional high quality venues.
The Shaw Festival 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, and eat at the wonderful restaurants.

It’s a good idea to make both theatre and lodging reservations early, especially for weekends.  Our home away from home is the beautiful and well-placed Wellington House (, directly across the street from The Festival Theatre, within easy walking distance of all the theatres and the home of Karen’s individually prepared breakfasts.  
For information on other B&Bs go to

There are some wonderful restaurants.  My in-town favorites are The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King Street) and Ginger (905-468-3871, 390 Mary Street).  Reservations are encouraged, even during the week.
This year’s theatre offerings include:
SWEET CHARITY (April 17-October 31)  Experience the world of 1960s New York through the eyes of a dance hall hostess who dreams of a brighter future but she can’t help giving her heart to all the wrong guys. The book is by Neil Simon, the score by, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, includes “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.”
PYGMALION (May 31-October 24)  G. B. Shaw’s tale of a London flower-seller and a linguistics professor’s unlikely pairing. Yes. MY FAIR LADY without the music. 
LIGHT UP THE SKY (June 25-October 11).  Moss Hart’s comic love story to and about Broadway.
THE LADY FROM THE SEA (April 30-September 13).  A new version of Henrik Ibsen’s tale of a claustrophobic, restless woman, who is haunted by her past.
TOP GIRLS (May 23-September 12).   Caryl Churchill’s drama about the role of women in society and what being a successful woman means.
THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK (June 11-September 12)  J. M. Barrie, the author of PETER PAN,  writes a one-act tale which has been called, “a feminist battle cry.”  Match this with Shaw’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER and you have a  Barrie-experience.
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (April 8-November 1).  This five time 2012 Tony Award winner, through music and story-telling, chronicles the adventures of an orphan soon to be known to the world as Peter Pan!
YOU NEVER CAN TELL (April 26-October 25).  One of Shaw’s most light-hearted plays, the tale is filled with family mishaps, romantic skirmishes and the battle of the sexes.
THE DIVINE:  A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT (July 5-October 11).   A world premiere production about the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt and her controversial performances in Quebec City at the turn of the 20th century, when she was told she was not welcomed in the city by the Catholic Church!

THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES (July 11-October 10).  Tony Kushner’s tale of an intervention which results in 21st century political and personal values being wrestled to the ground.

THE NEXT WHISKEY BAR:  A KURT WEILL CABARET (August 21, 22, 28, 29, September 4 and 5).  It’s Germany, 1923.  Through the distinctive, raucous music    of composer Kurt Weill, we get to know some of the hopes, hurts and dreams of the lost souls of the Fatherland.  The score includes “Mack the Knife” and”September Song.”

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.

Go to the Shaw Festival!  Oh, don’t forget your passport as it’s the only form of identification that will be accepted for re-entry into the US.