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Stratford Shakespeare Festival, A Place of Discover and Delight

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association and Cleveland Critics Circle)

Want to get away this spring, summer or fall?  Drive to Canada for great theatre, good food, and nice scenery.  This year marks the 61st anniversary of the Stratford Festival of Canada.

This season’s 12 productions in the Festival’s four theatres are:

ROMEO AND JULIET—Shakespeare’s tale of youthful passion which dares to challenge generations of enmity in the most famous love story ever told. (May 1-October 19)

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF—The poignant musical tale of family, faith and tradition, with such songs as ’If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”(April 23-October 20)

THE THREE MUSKETEERS–an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ epic swashbuckling novel of intrigue and adventure in 18th century France.  (May 18-October 19)

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE–Shakespeare’s controversial look at intolerance and the vengeance it provokes. (July 30-October 18)

TOMMY, The Who’s classic rock tale of a traumatized child who becomes a “Pinball Wizard.”  (May 4-October 19)

BLITHE SPIRIT—Noel Coward’s tale of ghosts, second marriages, séances, mischief and wit. (May 16-October 20)

OTHELLO—Shakespeare’s tragic tale of love, betrayal, vengeance and relationship destruction.  (August 4-October 19)

MEASURE FOR MEASURE—The Bard of Avon satirically takes on sex, the church and the state, while questioning the very nature of virtue. (May 18-Setpember 21)

MARY STUART—Even queens become pawns in the life-and-death power struggle driven by faith, fear, ambition and desire. (May 3-September 21)

WAITING FOR GODOT—Samuel Becket’s existential absurdist masterpiece that some consider the greatest play of the 20th century.

TAKING SHAKESPEARE—John Murrell’s celebration of the power of words, and the surprising power of the heart as an aging professor tutors the university president’s floundering son.  (July 13-September 22).

THE THRILL—A love story in which a successful lawyer and fiery activist takes on a right-to-die movement celebrity with consequences that neither has anticipated.  (July 28-September 22).


Besides their regularly scheduled plays, the Festival offers stage-side chats, the Celebrated Writers Series, Night Music, Table Talks, pre-show lectures, lobby talks, public lectures, the teaching Shakespeare School and The Teachers’ Conference.

What’s the lodging like?  Hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts abound to fit any wallet.  I like a b & b.  You get to meet new people and there is a nice friendly feel of being more than a guest.   My favorite is the Avery House (

Hungry?  For moderate cost and high quality, try The Annex Cafe (38 Albert Street) and the Stratford Thai Cuisine (82 Wellington Street).

Packages can be arranged by   Stratford Escapes (, is an efficient way to make reservations.  For individual tickets call 800-567-1600 or go on-line to

Helpful hints: The ride from Cleveland is about six hours through Buffalo.  Go on-line to the festival for directions.  The routings offered by AAA and Yahoo maps are confusing and miles longer.  To satisfy border requirements carry your passport.  Nothing else will do.

Go to Stratford, Canada!  Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are, and see some great theatre!