Take a seat at the theatre

Pick a play (there are 23) and enjoy everything these festival towns have to offer.

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Published in Forever Young in July 2016

Trying to decide whether to head to the Stratford Festival or the Shaw Festival this season? If that is indeed the question, the answer is easy: get to both.

North America's two largest repertory theatre companies are situated a mere two hours apart and both present world class drama, are set in picturesque towns and offer getaways both edifying and enjoyable.

And with performances stretching to almost the end of October, there's plenty of time to pay homage to both Shaw, the Irish playwright whose views in some of his 60 plays are still considered controversial today, and The Bard, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language with 37 plays and 154 sonnets. (But, hey, who's counting?)

The play's the thing: Showcasing 23 shows between them, both festivals aim to please a broad range of theatrical tastes, from Shakespeare (Macbeth, As You Like It) to Shaw (Mrs. Warren's Profession), classic drama (All My Sons, Our Town), lighter fare (Shakespeare in Love, Engaged), musicals (A Chorus Line, Sweeny Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street) and family amusements (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland).

Food for thought: It was Shaw who wrote, "There is no sincerer love than the love of food" and Niagara-on-the-Lake has no shortage of restaurants that take that dictum very seriously - among them Escabèche at the Prince of Wales (its cherry amaretto crème brûlée dessert leaves you with a longing for more) and The Cannery at the Pillar and Post (where the prime rib is the Sunday night have).

Stratford has been experiencing a major restaurant revival over the past couple of years with new openings, owners and chefs. The stunning Revival House (formerly The Church Restaurant) features a menu worthy of holy praise with its local and seasonal Perth County ingredients (the charcuterie is a visual and sensual delight.)

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