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Preview of The Shaw Festival 2013

Roy Berko

Member, Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association

Yes, it’s snowing outside, but soon Spring and Summer will be upon us.  That means The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, will beckon.  The Shaw is one of the two major Canadian theatre festivals, the other being The Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  Both are 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 many wonderful restaurants.

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 (, directly across the street from The Festival Theatre. For information on other B&Bs go to

There are some wonderful restaurants including the Dining Room located at the Niagara Culinary Institute ( And my in-town favorite, The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King St.)

This year’s theatre offerings are:

GUYS AND DOLLS–a musical fable of Broadway based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon and includes such songs as A Bushel and a Peck, Take Back Your Mink, Luck Be a Lady, and Sue Me.

LADY WINDEMERE’S FAN–Oscar Wilde’s bitingly satirical attack on Victorian morals

ENCHANTED APRIL–Matthew Barber’s tale of two women who seek an adventure by renting a small castle on the Mediterranean in Northern Italy.

PEACE IN OUR TIME–John Murrell’s adaptation of Shaw’s play GENEVA, which is a contemporary political farce where affairs of state meet the Three Stooges.

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA–Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel’s (Richard Rodgers’ grandson) musical set in Italy in the summer of 1953 and concerns an American and her daughter encountering a handsome Italian.  It includes such songs as The Beauty Is, The Joy You Feel, Hysteria, and Let’s Walk.

TRIFLES—two one-act marital mysteries by Susan Glaspell and Eugene O’Neill.

OUR BETTERS—W. Somerset Maugham’s play, deemed by many to be the best social comedy of the century, which concerns a rich American woman in search of nobility.  The play is considered a forerunner to DOWNTON ABBEY.

MAJOR BARBARA—Shaw’s provocative and witty play about immorality and the testing of beliefs and ideals.

FAITH HEALER—Irish playwright Brian Friel writes three versions of the same story, and asks, “which one is true?”

ARCADIA—Tom Stoppard’s intellectually dazzling mystery and love story, which is set in both 1809 and the present time.

Two plays which will be presented as staged readings:

THE MOUNTAINTOP—Broadway’s smash hit of this past season regarding the night before the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.  (For a review of the play go to and search the title.  (Only September 1)

JERUSALEM—The Tony Award winning play which ran in London (2009) and on Broadway (2010), which concerns tall tales and past glories. (Only October 13)

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! 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.