Thursday, August 2, 2018

Stratford Theatre Weekend

July 2018 - Stratford ON

Click here for last year's day in Stratford. And a must-see visit to the Shakespearean Gardens.

We booked a theatre weekend in Stratford for my birthday.
It was a gorgeous sunny morning on Saturday as we headed out.

We made a stop in Baden because we knew that two more sculptures had been added to the Prime Ministers' Path.

We chose a B and B, A Garden Stroll, located close to Festival Theatre. It was very comfortable and they were extremely hospitable.

At the end of their street, entrance to Festival Theatre. Loved seeing Christopher Plummer's name on here, a favourite of mine since The Sound of Music. We also saw his one-man show, A Word or Two, a few years ago.

We'd had rain on the drive and it looked like we were in for some more.

Stratford is a lovely walking town with scads of historic buildings.

Click here for a coffee break at Edison's.

Cute name for a candy store.

Even from the back the buildings look interesting.

We left early for theatre, The Music Man at the Festival Theatre as we wanted to see the grounds.

The Stratford Festival is an internationally recognized annual repertory theatre festival which operates from April to October in the city of Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Founded by local journalist-turned-producer Tom Patterson, the festival was formerly known as the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, the Shakespeare Festival and then Stratford Shakespeare Festival before changing to the current name. Theatre-goers, actors, and playwrights flock to Stratford to take part — many of the greatest Canadian, British, and American actors play roles at the Stratford festival. It was one of the first and is still one of the most prominent arts festivals in Canada and is recognized worldwide for its productions of Shakespearean plays.


The Carpet Gardens probably date from the mid-1880s. Design, planting and maintaining a carpet garden is very labour intensive, and the intricacies of Festival carpet gardens is convincing evidence of why that garden design is not more widely seen.

By Stratford tradition, the Festival Head Gardener chooses (and plants — and maintains!) the carpet garden design. In recent years, the designs have all featured symbols related in some way to a few of that season’s plays.

The Music Man


The Elizabethan Garden is a short walk from The Meighen Garden (shown below) . Theatre patrons often enjoy the Elizabethan Garden before curtain and during intermissions, but it is well worth exploring on its own.

 The fountain in the centre of the garden is inscribed with a quote from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline:

These flow’rs are like the pleasures of the world

Shakespeare by Frank Holte

Most plants in the Elizabethan Garden were known in Shakespeare’s time and many are mentioned in his writings. The Kitchen Garden features edible plants and herbs, and the Witch’s Garden has plants that were once believed to induce or prevent charms, such as Valerian (All-Heal).

Raising the Tent was at first, a temporary indicator of fund raising for renovations at the Stratford Festival Theatre. Ruth Abernethy recreated three figures in bronze for permanent installation in 1997. She presented the standing man as a portrait of theatre carpenter Al Jones. The lower man is Skip Manley, hired for his experience with Barnum and Bailey's circus. He became tent-raising foreman for the Festival's first huge performance tent. The girl was based on Katie Besworth whose parents worked at the Festival.

Click on Abernethy in the tags below this post to see more of her work.

 Tom Patterson, founder of the Festival.

 Memorial stones are scattered around the gardens.

In the 1900s, concerns about the quality of rural education prompted the Ontario government to build four new Normal Schools to increase the supply of qualified teachers in the province. Identical Italian Renaissance buildings were constructed in North Bay, Peterborough, Hamilton, and Stratford. The Stratford Normal School attracted women and men from surrounding districts and educated them with an emphasis on conditions in the rural schools that employed most new teachers. Known as the Stratford Teachers' College from 1953 on, the school trained close to 14,000 teachers before closing in 1973. It is the only one of the four Normal Schools opened in 1908-09 to survive without substantial alteration.

We went in the side door near the gardens and got a glass of wine. 

I decided to wander outside to the front of the building.

The Arthur Meighen Gardens were created in 1996 as a gift from the Meighan family. Arthur Meighan (1874-1960) was born not far from Stratford, and twice served as Canada’s Prime Minister (1920-1922; 1925-1926).

A river of thyme flows down the textured gardens. That's the Normal School to the right.

The set for The Music Man

Since no photos are allowed I downloaded a few.

Rehearsal video.

This is NOT the scene from this performance, it is from another production a few years ago, but I really enjoyed the opening.

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow. - William Shakespeare


We shared a delicious breakfast with some other guests, fresh fruit, French toast and lots of homemade goodies.

We had tickets for an afternoon performance so headed out early to visit the Stratford - Perth Museum which will have its own post.
But sticking to a theatre theme, I am including the photos from this exhibit.

“Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On” recounts the story of the initial years of Stratford’s Shakespearean Festival, when performances were held in a tent. In 1952, over a period of only 18 months, Tom Patterson’s long-held dream to present Shakespearean drama in his hometown progressed from idea to reality. The plots, the plans, the people and the plays that transformed Stratford from a railway hub to the City that hosts North America's largest classical repertory theatre company are showcased in this exhibit.

Original theatre seats.

From here we headed downtown, found a parking spot and strolled.

The Perth County Courthouse is visible for miles. It’s an intriguing confection of Romanesque, Italianate, and Queen Anne details rendered in sandstone, yellow brick, and red terracotta, crowned with an imposing bell tower.

Nearby stands Stratford’s City Hall in all its Queen Anne, red-bricked glory, in the heart of our downtown, surrounded by the well-preserved late-Victorian commercial districts of Wellington, Ontario, and Downie Streets.

45 Waterloo Street was the original YWCA building. It was constructed in 1928 of red rug brick. Note the classic features, which include the pediment or triangular shape over the front door along with the sunburst window and finial.

50 Cobourg Street. This Gothic Ontario house was constructed in 1874 by Thomas Orr and remains in the family today. Note the bargeboard and the bottom of the finials. The upper windows are original and have bracketed lentils. 

Next to it is 30‐32 Waterloo, built as a duplex in 1890‐1891, also by Thomas Orr.

At the river front.


People bring their chairs and picnics to enjoy the music.

Looking towards the Shakespearean Gardens, link above to visit.

Time for our afternoon show, this time at the Avon, right downtown.

An Ideal Husband, is an 1895 comedic stage play by Oscar Wilde which revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place over the course of twenty-four hours.

"Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past."
Click here for an overview.

Another fabulous set.

WE had pre-ordered our wine for intermission and it was served in these glasses, sippy cups, that we took home.

A few photos as we went back to the car.

Back to the B and B until we headed out to dinner.


  1. ...another travel destination to put on the list!

  2. Stratford really is a beautiful place. Terrific shots!

  3. Looks like you guys had an amazing time. It's been ages since we went to the theatre, it's about time we booked up I think!

    And wishing you a very happy belated birthday, I hope you enjoyed your day :)

    Thanks for sharing with #MMBC.x

  4. Sounds like an interesting trip. I like that first statue of Shakespeare. The gardens are beautiful!

  5. The Stratford Festival looks like a fun event. I particularly like Carpet Gardens, and there's no doubt that they require consistent labor.

  6. Aww this post really brought me back! I was on a press trip with the Stratford Tourism board in June and I think we went pretty much all the same places. However I didn't get a chance to see Music Man. We saw An Ideal Husband though which we thought was phenomenal!! Although personally I would've preferred it on a thrust stage rather than a proscenium. I think we are actually planning a return trip this season because we really want to see To Kill a Mockingbird!

  7. Thanks for commenting! We are heading back at the end of the month to see To Kill a Mockingbird!


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