What to see at the Stratford Festival in 2023

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Counting down the days until the start of the 2023 season. Wondering what to see at the Stratford Festival this year? I got you. This year promises to be just as intriguing as past years at the festival, and Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino, did not disappoint.

Stratford, Ontario - Festival Theatre-Photo Credit: Krista-Dodson  What to see at the Stratford Festival in 2023
Stratford, Ontario – Festival Theatre-Photo Credit: Krista-Dodson

The offerings at the Stratford Festival this summer include classic Shakespeare – King Lear, Richard II, Much Ado About Nothing and Loves Labour Lost. As expected, there will be musicals, with Rent and Monty Python’s Spamalot starting strong at the beginning of the season and running until early fall. You will enjoy contemporary dramas: Casey and Diana, Wedding Band, Women of the Fur Trade and Frankestein Revived. Finally, there will be comedies, Grand Magic and Les Belle-Soeurs, and the family show A Wrinkle in Time.

Earlier in the year, I took full advantage of the generous Pay What You Want discount offer to purchase multiple sets of tickets to the Stratford Festival this summer. We begin boldly with Monty Python’s Spamalot in April and conclude the run with Frankenstein Revived in the fall. Tickets for these special performances are still available, but you must act fast as the particular performances sell out quickly. At the very least, subscribe to the Stratford Festival’s Facebook page or their newsletter to be notified of their ticket specials.

Throughout the years, we have taken advantage of the PWYW, 2-for-1 or last-minute discounted ticket specials. There is no shame in wanting to see excellent theatre production without the biting price. The tickets seem more expensive each year, but with world-class productions, it’s to be expected.

Here is what we are planning on seeing at the Stratford Festival this summer. Be sure an stay tuned to reviews throughout the season. I may add a few productions (Love’s Labour Lost and a Wrinkle in Time pique my curiosity).

Monty Python’s Spamalot

Jonathan Goad, Monty Python's Spamalot.  Photography by Ted Belton. - What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer.

My family much anticipates this production. Although a few have seen it here in London, most of us haven’t, and I look forward to this musical comedy at The Festival Theatre!

Monty Python’s Spamalot offers up a hefty share of irreverence in a hilarious spoof of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they go in search of the Holy Grail.

This outrageous musical comedy by John Du Prez and Eric Idle lets us look at our flaws and foibles and, in doing so, allows us to laugh at the things that make us human.

Jonathan Goad, Monty Python’s SpamalotPhotography by Ted Belton.

Grand Magic

A funny, thought-provoking and deeply moving play, presented in a new translation by John Murrell and Donato Santeramo. In this comedy, we find Otto Marvuglia, a once master illusionist, reduced to performing magic for money at a seaside resort.

When one of his tricks seems to go awry, a guest tumbles into a world of illusion as another escapes an unhappy reality.

Geraint Wyn Davies, Grand Magic. Stratford Festival. Photography by Ted Belton.

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer.  Geraint Wyn Davies, Grand Magic. Stratford Festival. Photography by Ted Belton.

Related Post: My Kingdom for a Horse – Richard III at The Stratford Festival

Much Ado About Nothing

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer. - Laura Condlln, Frankenstein Revived.  Photography by Ted Belton.

The story follows Beatrice and Benedick, two quick-witted and sarcastic individuals who are happily single but whose friends believe they would make a great romantic match.

Set in the Early Modern world, an era of ever-changing attitudes towards marriage and power, the play presents a society at once filled with progressive feminist impulses and countervailing forces rooted in traditional patriarchal values.

With his astonishing wit and insight, Shakespeare explores the complexities that underlie these growing social tensions.

Maev Beaty, Much Ado About Nothing. Photography by Ted Belton.

Richard II

In a revolutionary adaptation by Brad Fraser, this Richard is the story of a king who believes that God gives him the right to live above the rules and who ultimately suffers the consequences.

The story is embedded in a time of great freedom that is soon crushed – the late 1970s and early ’80s: when lives were lived at great volume against a suffocating strain of conservatism and fear. Fraser’s adaptation maintains Shakespeare’s text but draws on sources beyond Richard II.

Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Richard II. Stratford Festival. Photography by Ted Belton

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer. - Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Richard II. Stratford Festival. Photography by Ted Belton

Related Post: My Kingdom for a Horse – Richard III at The Stratford Festival

Rent

E. Peck, R.Markus, K.Stewart, N.LozanoJr. and A.Macaeseat, Rent. Stratford Festival. Photography Ted Belton - What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer.

Set in Manhattan in the 1990s and inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, this rock musical by Jonathan Larson follows a group of young East Village artists, performers and philosophers as they struggle through the hardships of poverty, societal discord and the AIDS epidemic in the search for life, love and art. With a song list that includes the iconic “Seasons of Love,” Rent tells a story as relevant today as when it took Broadway by storm more than 25 years ago.

BONUS: Listen to the Spotify playlist curated by Thom Allison.

E. Peck, R.Markus, K.Stewart, N.LozanoJr. and A.Macaeseat, Rent. Stratford Festival. Photography Ted Belton

Les Belles-Soeurs

After 32 years, Michel Tremblay’s masterpiece, which revolutionized Québécois theatre and is renowned the world over, returns to Stratford on the Festival Stage. Written in 1965, Les Belles-Soeurs portrays 15 Québécois women expressing their anger, desperation and frustration loudly, rudely and audaciously.

Germaine Lauzon has won a million stamps in a contest. She invites her family and neighbours into her kitchen to help paste them into booklets. Fighting for any power in their suffocating lives, the women yell, backstab, dream and steal in grand theatrical style.

Allison Edwards-Crewe, Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna, Les Belles-Soeurs. Photography by Ted Belton

Allison Edwards-Crewe, Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna, Les Belles-Soeurs. Photography by Ted Belton - What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer.

Related Post: Production Review of To Kill a mockingbird

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer. Stratford Festival 2023. What to see at the festival.

King Lear

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer. - Paul Gross, King Lear. Stratford Festival. Photography by David Ho

I expect a strong performance from Paul Gross as the poster boy he is what to see at the Stratford Festival this summer!

Perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, King Lear, is the story of an aging king, who, in demanding a show of devotion from his three daughters, leaves his kingdom divided, his family destroyed, the faithful banished, and the hateful left to wreak inhuman havoc in the realm.

Paul Gross, King Lear. Stratford Festival. Photography by David Hou

Frankenstein Revived

At just 18 years old, Mary Shelley wrote the most celebrated horror story in English literature. Based on the novel, this exuberant and passion-filled theatrical movement-based piece by Morris Panych with music by David Coulter explores the big question at the heart of Shelley’s work: what does it mean to be human?

Laura Condlln, Frankenstein Revived. Photography by Ted Belton.

What to see at the Stratford Festival this summer. - Laura Condlln, Frankenstein Revived. Photography by Ted Belton.

There is no question this will be an exciting year at The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. The spring promises those who love world-class theatre drama, comedy and a lot of Shakespeare just a short drive from London, Toronto, Waterloo or Hamilton. Hopefully, this has provided you with a guide to what to see at the Stratford Festival this summer.

See you soon!

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.