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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Stratford Festival 2009

One of the best things of living in Southwestern Ontario is the proximity to the Stratford Festival. It is definitely one of my favourite things of summer, and it never actually feels like summer until I’ve been to see at least one play there. In the past week, I’ve been there twice, so summer is officially allowed to begin. :)

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the ForumLast Sunday, I headed there with a friend for a performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It was at the Avon Theatre, which I think I’ve only actually seen two other plays at. We were actually really fortunate with the performance. Afterwards, we went out for dinner with my friend’s aunt and uncle and we heard that Bruce Dow, the actor playing Pseudolus had been ill for a while, so hadn’t been performing, but was back on stage for our performance. Very lucky, because he was FABULOUS.

For those who don’t know the story, it takes place over a day in which a slave, Pseudolus, is trying to gain his freedom by bringing about his master’s union with the beautiful woman his master has fallen in love with. Unfortunately, she has been sold has a courtesan to another man, but that won’t stop Pseudolus from attempting to win his freedom through their love.

I’ve never seen this play before. (Or the movie.) I didn’t expect it to be quite as brilliantly hilarious as it was. It was just … well, I laughed through the whole thing. Bruce Dow was definitely my favourite in the play – he was brilliant. The rest of the cast was awesome too; and the sets and costumes – loved the costumes! The music itself was VERY Sondheim-ish – not that that’s a bad thing, as I do enjoy some of his other musicals quite a bit.

I am definitely so happy that I’ve seen this. It was written by Sondheim, so I know it’s not for everyone (ahem, Rachel), but if you enjoy Sondheim and are in the area, definitely go see it!

Cyrano de BergeracAnd then yesterday, I went with Rachel and her sister to see Cyrano de Bergerac. And oh! Colm Feore, how much I love you! There are no words to express how much I want to fangirl over your performance.

Basic story of Cyrano – a man with a huge nose falls in love with a beautiful woman, Roxanne. She’s in love with a handsome (but extremely dumb) man. Cyrano helps this handsome man write letters and speak with Roxanne so she doesn’t know how dumb he is, all the while being so in love with her himself.

Again, I’ve never seen (or read) Cyrano before, but I knew the basic story. Of course, knowing the story and actually seeing such a fabulous production of the play are two totally different things. And it was a fabulous production. Well, aside from the very beginning when Colm and Donna Feore’s son came on stage in jeans, took up the fencing sword and pranced around the stage with the sword for a little bit – I didn’t understand why that was happening.

The casting in general was fabulous, but it was total Colm Feore’s show. As it should have been. Goodness! That man can go from French to English so flawlessly and smoothly that you wouldn’t even realize he was switching languages. In total awe! He made me wish I had never given up French class. And he was so convincing in the role, that I will never be able to see anyone else as Cyrano now. Also, I will totally admit that his performance brought a tear to my eye at one point.

If you’re only going to see one play at the Festival this year, it should be this one. No word of a lie.

So, that’s what I’ve seen so far. In September I will be going to see West Side Story. I’m planning on going to see at least one of Brian Bedford’s plays (though it may only be one, just not sure which one yet). I had been hoping to see Macbeth, as it’s one of my favourite Shakespearean plays, but they’ve set it in modern-day Africa, and I like my Shakespeare traditional, thank you very much.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 8:00 am July 11, 2009.
Category: Plays

  • Kailana

    Every time I go to Ontario I want to go see a play, but it never happens! I saw ‘Phantom of the Opera’ last time I was there, but that doesn’t count. I am determined to go to Stratford next time I am there!

  • Court

    Kelly – Well!! Next time you’re in Ontario, if you need someone to go to Stratford with, I will be more than happy to join you! (There are some FABULOUS book stores there, too!)

  • Cat

    I went to Stratford in 8th grade on a class trip. We saw three plays – 2 Shakespeare and then Guys and Dolls. I can’t even remember the names of the Shakespeare plays we saw! I only remember Guys and Dolls and falling in love with it. I love me some musical theatre. Ha. I do like Shakespeare, but I have to be in the mood for it. I also used to suffer from major panic attacks and the sleeping somewhere other than my bed at home thing didn’t o over so well. I remember being up all night on the floor in the bathroom of the motel wishing I could die.

    Good times! haha! But I loved this festival.

    Oh! Also a friend of mine got chased by two HUGE swans along the river bank. Scary but hilarious! The fun we had at the age of 14. ;)