The Niagara Region as a whole has always been a melting pot for various facets of culture – music, food and so on – and one of the most iconic celebrations of the arts in the area takes place on what is close to a regular basis in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The town’s annual Shaw Festival is the second-largest repertory theatre company in North America, and since 1962 the festival has been a routine celebration of the works of playwright George Bernard Shaw and the time period of theatre he contributed to, although in recent years the Festival has also begun to showcase modern plays.
Shaw (1856–1950) was an Irish playwright who has become famous for his works and their focus on both social commentary and witty comedy. The stories he wrote have become key narratives in modern pop culture – his most celebrated work, Pygmalion, was later adapted into the musical and film My Fair Lady.
Niagara-on-the-Lake runs the Shaw Festival as a full program of theatrical works, with several shows performing on various dates between April and November. The only criteria is that the plays be Shavian in nature – usually meaning that it’s directly based on Shaw’s work, but also allowing for original productions that embody the same spirit of humanity and wry humour that can be found in the plays written by Shaw and his contemporaries.
For anyone visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake between April and November, that means a variety of theatrical performances to enjoy. The festival hosts performances across three separate theatres across the town – the grand Festival Theatre, the intimate Court House and the opera house-style Royal George are the main venues, all along the same stretch of road in Queen’s Parade/Queen Street.
The line-up is always changing with new spins on old material and original productions from local and national talent. The 2015 calendar, for example, features Shavian mainstays Pygmalion. and You Never Can Tell, alongside Moss Hart’s comedic classic Light up the Sky, a world premier play based on the life of legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, and a re-adaptation of the 60s musical Sweet Charity.for some unique flavour.
For anyone with a love of the theatre or just enjoys a good story, catching something on the Shaw Festival’s itinerary is a must.
After taking in a Shaw play, come and stay at the closest hotel to Niagara Falls, the Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa. View our: