Disney World may be the happiest place on earth, but my happy place is Stratford, Ontario, home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The season opened this weekend with plenty of fanfare and a preview performance of As You Like It. Other Shakespeare plays this season include The Tempest (starring Christopher Plummer), Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter's Tale, as well as Kiss Me, Kate, a musical adaptation of Taming of the Shrew.
For those of you in the Midwest, a trip to Stratford is easily accomplished in a long weekend. It's an eight-hour drive from Indy (depending on how long you spend at the border), so you can leave on Friday morning, have a leisurely dinner at one of the town's fantastic restaurants, and then catch the 8 p.m. show. You can see two more shows -- at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. -- on Saturday, and then head home Sunday (if you must).
I'm going to Stratford twice this summer, once by myself in July and once in August with several friends. Every time I bring someone new to Stratford, that person falls head over heels in love with the gourmet restaurants, funky shops, beautiful landscapes, and of course outstanding theater. Here, in the middle of rural Ontario, is a town that lives and breathes Shakespeare.
Plus, it's named Stratford, and it's on the river Avon, and it's just north of London. But in Canada. It's really sort of funny.
For more info on this summer's season, visit the festival's website or check out this article from the Canwest News Service.