After a late night of theatre and a long ride home, we got ready for our second play, in the city of Stratford, Ontario, known for its Shakespeare festival.
While Niagara relies a good deal on the theatre festival and the numerous wineries in the beautiful nearby countryside for its survival, Stratford, with its enormous Shakespeare festival is also a larger, more urban city with more industry.
It's grittier, busier. You can see the difference -- if you look at the flower-packed streets of Niagara in the last post and compare it to this image --
Well, you'll see Stratford looks like a lot of places! Perhaps its greatest beauty is the Avon River the runs through it.
When I walked down to the waterfront, I was mobbed by ducks. Clearly, they get their fill of treats from tourists!
Our first stop was at the Avon Theatre downtown (Stratford, like Niagara, has three theatres), where we had tickets for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."
The theatre was redone a number of years ago and it is lovely.
"Forum" is "early Sondheim." It was the first musical for which he wrote both music and lyrics, after some successful lyric stints for Jule Styne (Gypsy) and Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story).
"Forum" is broad slapstick. The opening song is "Comedy Tonight" and the lyrics and choreography set the stage for a laugh-packed show.
Everything about "Forum" is big, overplayed. Think "the three stooges meet Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers, add some beautiful girls, a bold-stupid-arrogant Roman general, a vacuous virgin and a lovestruck boy." Ah, the possibilities.
So much about "Forum" could go wrong. Comedy is tough to do -- the timing has to work and in this case, it's even more important because some of the stunts were so complex and indeed, dangerous, there could be serious problems if it didn't.
I entered "Forum" thinking "I'm not that big on this show, but it'll be fun." I left thinking, "Wow, that was fabulous!" Everything worked!
Intermission -- take a look at the quilt behind us.
It was done by the costumers at the Festival. All representations from various shows, and beautifully done.
(Sorry about that bad photo above. But this shows William in good detail.)
After, Suzanne and Jim had the star, Sean Cullen, sign a CD.
And then, it was off to dinner at Bentley's, a pub on the main street.
I had the fish and chips -- it is a pub, after all! But Jim and I shared a lemon trifle to die for.
Then as we walked back to the car, we couldn't help but window peek back at the theatre gift shop! Loved this clock, but my wall space is taken!
We got home about eight -- just in time to spend a few hours playing the slots in Suzanne's basement!
"I'm so sorry I'm losing your monopoly money," I told her after working down the credits that she had gained and I had added to on the machine -- if I'd been in Vegas, I would have walked away!
It's a good value lesson! Easy to play, hard to leave! At least it was "play money!"
The following day I took off (after a visit to the grocery store!) and made it home in time for dinner with Rick, Gypsy time, and Dancing with the Stars.
Thanks, Suzanne and Jim!
It was a great few days!
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