Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Shaw Festival

Boy Meets Girl — In an enchanted Scottish village. 
On a  Saturday evening while in Burlington Ontario, last month, I had the immense pleasure of attending the Shaw Festival's production of Learner and Lowe's, Brigadoon, in Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario.  

The original production or Brigadoon opened at the Ziegfeld Theater on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 581 performances. A movie version of Brigadoon, directed by Vincente Minnelli, was released by MGM in 1954 with Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse in leading roles. . 

It is a musical that chronicles two post World War II veterans' escape and effort to find solace from a world gone mad. The two stumble upon Brigadoon, a mythical Scottish village that appears for only one day every 100 years. Tommy, one of the men, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon.  (Wikipedia) 

Brigadoon's on stage cast numbers 26. The sets are first class with state of the art silk screens, video projection, and moving scenes. The music is all so familiar, with "Almost Like Being in Love" at its center. A first class Broadway production. 

Brigadoon - Shaw Festival 2019

Wow - what a meaningful play in a beautiful packed theater. What a lovely evening!  Below is a little history on the "Shaw". I really hope to be able to attend this wonderful Festival again.


In 1962, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, lawyer and playwright Brian Doherty parlayed his love for the work of Irish playwright Bernard Shaw into a summer theater festival, producing eight performances of Don Juan in Hell and Candida in the Court House auditorium.  In this singular act of passion for theater and culture, the Shaw Festival was born.

Today, with 10 or more productions each year performed in three theaters for an audience of more than 250,000, the Shaw Festival has grown to become a major Canadian cultural icon, a gem in this country’s rich cultural heritage. Inspired by the wit and passion of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival is a contemporary theater that features a smart, provocative, potent and diverse mix of plays from the past and present, performed by our celebrated repertory theater Ensemble.

The result is theater that is challenging, surprising, often funny and always entertaining. These plays are lovingly and artfully brought to the stage each year by a talented team of actors, directors, and designers, showcasing the incredible tapestry of talent that this country contributes to the world.

Helmed by Artistic Director Tim Carroll (TC), this 58th Season offers 13 productions from April 6 to December 22, including the musical Brigadoon, C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, The Ladykillers, two Holiday Season shows – A Christmas Carol and Holiday Inn – and  more "Secret Theater".

Recipient of Trip Advisor’s “Certificate of Excellence”, the Shaw Festival is … the perfect intermission from life. More from the The Wall Street Journal:

Directly comparable in scope and quality to such ambitious south-of-the-border classical festivals as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. If you’re up for a weekend—or a whole week—of first-class theater, you should give very serious thought to going there.  

Saturday Evening at the Shaw Festival

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Shakespeare at the Rock - Twelfth Night

Shakespeare at the Rock - Burlington’s Tottering Biped Theater.

At The Play
While in Burlington, Ontario last month, I had many wonderful experiences which will be shared over the next few days. One was attending an outdoor presentation of William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. The play presented by The Tottering Biped Theater at Burlington's Royal Botanical Gardens, was fascinating. The historic Rock Garden provides the perfect atmosphere for a night of inspiring theater under the stars - a delicious, only slightly cool, summer evening. 

The site Shmoop offered this play description:  

Gender is a biggie in Twelfth Night, and the play brilliantly demonstrates how gender, a socially constructed identity, can be "performed" and impersonated with the use of voice, costume, and mannerisms. The theme is largely explored in relation to Shakespeare's profession as an actor and writer for a transvestite stage (in Elizabethan times, all-male acting companies performed the roles of women). The relationship between gender and performance is particularly complex in Twelfth Night because the part of Viola is played by a boy actor, who is cross-dressed as a female character, who disguises herself as a young man. Of course, the text also meditates on the relationship between gender and desire as it explores the erotics of androgyny.

Viola (Cesario) and Olivia 

The Shakespeare at the Rock rendition of the play took liberties with the original time period and setting while still staying true to the old English dialogue. The play’s time was moved forward to the 1980s, place Miami. The court jester, Feste, is now an over the top drag queen. This is a space where young people - not unlike the ones Shakespeare was writing about - are taking chances, experimenting with self-expression, and show a side of themselves they may not reveal in the light of day. We’ve all been there - or are there- so why not put Shakespeare’s characters there too?

Spoiler alert - "The girl gets the girl. Or was it the boy gets the girl?"


What a fun, interesting and beautiful evening. 

Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, ON Canada