The Post-Gazette's annual Critics Choice motorcoach tour to Canada's Shaw and Stratford festivals, now in its 31st year, heads northward July 9-13. That's a little later than usual, in order to include a robust selection of seven musicals and plays.
That includes one Shaw comedy at the Shaw and one Shakespeare comedy at Stratford. The overall selection ranges from history to political comedy and from husband hunting to spousal ghosts, plus two famous musicals. An optional lunchtime treat includes Eugene O'Neill's first tidbit of a play.
Included are a comfortable hotel at each festival, a welcoming dinner and discussions led by the tour's longtime leader, senior theater critic Chris Rawson.
First up is the Shaw Festival, in the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a half-hour beyond Niagara Falls, where attendees stay at the Pillar & Post. The three shows and one option are:
• In the jewel-box Royal George Theatre, "Our Betters" by W. Somerset Maugham, a comedy about rich American women in search of British titles, in the mode of Henry James or "Downton Abbey."
• In the intimate Court House Theatre, "Peace in Our Time," a contemporary political comedy adapted by John Murrell from Shaw's "Geneva."
• In the main Festival Theatre, "Guys and Dolls," one of anybody's top 10 musicals.
• And as a lunchtime option, in the Court House, two short marital mysteries: Susan Glaspell's "Trifles" and Eugene O'Neill's "A Wife for a Life," featuring Benedict Campbell.
Two days later, a two-hour ride takes the group on to Stratford to the comfortable Arden Park Hotel, on the edge of the main festival grounds. The schedule:
• In the grand Festival Theatre, one of the world's great venues, the classic "Fiddler on the Roof."
• In the downtown Avon Theatre, Noel Coward's comedy of a spirited triangle, "Blithe Spirit," directed by the brilliant Brian Bedford.
• And in the intimate lakeside Patterson Theatre, two great classics. "Mary Stuart" by Schiller, the German Shakespeare, stars Stratford's two leading ladies, Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna, as those regal/bloody cousins, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I, with Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury. Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," a dark comedy of justice and seduction, features Geraint Wyn Davies as the enigmatic Duke.
Included in Stratford are a picnic lunch, backstage tour and post-show get-together over drinks to discuss the plays.
The price is $1,556 per person, based on double occupancy. The single supplement is $428.
Optional offerings at additional charge are based upon availability. A deposit of $500 per person is required to hold a reservation; status of your reservation will be sent upon receipt of deposit.
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 questions about trip details, but contact Mr. Rawson with questions about the plays: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Published May 5, 2013 4:00 AM