Comedy and drama await PG tour to the Shaw Festival
July 15, 2012 4:00 AM
Nicole Underhay and Benedict Campbell star in "His Girl Friday," the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur screwball classic adapted by John Guare.
The Post-Gazette's annual Critic's Choice tour to the Shaw Festival heads north, Sept. 12-15.
The Shaw is in cozy, flowery Niagara-on-the-Lake, north of Niagara Falls, just five hours from Pittsburgh by motor coach. The festival must be special because this is the 67th group trip PG senior theater critic Chris Rawson has led to the Shaw in 33 years.
In addition to the stimulating plays and the compact, colorful town, another attraction is three nights in our charming hotel, The Prince of Wales, right in the middle of town, a few steps from all three theaters, not to mention shops, parks and Lake Ontario.
We get to see five shows, plus an optional sixth, including two musicals, two dramas and two comedies. It happens that none are by Shaw, but the influence of the comi-intellectual, Anglo-Irish master (1856-1950) is everywhere in this eclectic theatrical smorgasbord.
• "Ragtime" (Festival Theatre), a big, robust, melodic musical about America at the turn of the 20th century, staged by a company that knows that period better than anyone else.
• "His Girl Friday" (Festival Theatre), adapted by John Guare from the Hecht and MacArthur classic, "The Front Page," and from the Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell movie. Tough-talking reporter (Nicole Underhay) squabbles with her editor (Benedict Campbell) while trying to capture the story of an escaped convict -- it's the screwball comedy that defines the genre.
• "A Man and Some Women" presents the battle of the sexes in the intimate Court House Theatre.
• Martha Henry, a fine Hedda in her day, directs Ibsen's feminist (or is it anti-feminist?) classic, "Hedda Gabler," also in the Court House.
• William Inge's famous midcentury American drama, "Come Back, Little Sheba" (Royal George Theatre).
• The optional extra (a lunchtime short) is a little-known gem by Leonard Bernstein, "Trouble in Tahiti," a jazzy musical treatment of love in the suburbs.
Included in the package are a welcoming dinner, backstage tour and post-show get-together over drinks to discuss the plays.
The price is $1,389 per person, based on double occupancy. The single supplement is $469. A deposit of $500 per person is required to hold a reservation; status of reservation will be sent upon receipt of deposit.
Space is limited. Deposits are to be made payable and mailed to Gulliver's Travels, 460 S. Graham St., Pittsburgh, PA 15232-1210; phone 412-441-3131 or, outside Pittsburgh, 1-800-848-4084.
Call Gulliver's with any questions about trip details, but contact Mr. Rawson with questions about the plays: 412-216-1944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.