Stratford, Ontario is a short distance from the familiar confines of the UW.
You may know it as the town that gave the world Justin Bieber, but Stratford residents and frequent tourists know it for the Stratford Shakespearean Festival that features on classic musicals, as well as modern and Shakespearean plays since the 1950s.
The theatre’s season is just beginning, so there’s plenty of time to make a trip there this summer.
A musical with a lot of buzz around it this season is Billy Elliot.
Based in the mid-1980s, the musical depicts an eleven-year old boy named Billy Elliot (played by Nolan Dubuc) who breaks free from his small village in England, his prescribed future in mining, and stereotypes of masculinity to pursue his talent for dance.
Billy Elliot will make you laugh, cry, and dance in your seat. When it is over, you will probably be left wondering how an eleven-year-old is way more talented than you are. Word travels by mouth in Stratford, and the word is that Billy Elliot is the best musical ever put on at the Stratford Festival.
This is with full knowledge that Rocky Horror was a massive success and that the cast and crew of Stratford’s 2011 production of Jesus Christ Superstar continued the show on Broadway in New York.
Billy Elliot has been showing since Apr. 16 and even before its official opening date on May 28, was extended to show on stage at the Stratford Festival Theatre until Nov. 3, 2019.
This musical features music from Elton John and was made into a feature film in 2000, but 19 years later, it has been reimagined by Stratford’s genius, superstar director-choreographer Donna Feore.
Feore has choreographed some of the Stratford Festival’s most successful musicals in her 25-year career there, including Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music, and most recently, The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2018 which was the longest running musical in the Festival’s history.
Donna Feore is also director-choreographer for Little Shop of Horrors this season.
The Stratford Festival offers $20-$40 tickets for anyone under the age of 29, all you need to do is sign up for free to become a Play On member.
Stratford is accessible by direct Festival bus, Via Rail, a short drive, or a long walk. Visit the Stratford Festival website to see what else is playing this season.